Hanging on to your elephant's tail?
Maximising Employee Engagement through Employee Ownership

Talent Management versus Employee Engagement

Do you sometimes wonder if HR has a split personality?

It certainly seems that way at times. For instance take the following 2 statements taken from the same talk by Vance Kearney, Oracle EMEA HR Director.

Statement 1:

“Talent is less available and the only way you can recruit talented staff is if their current employer has made a mistake with them [and they want to leave].”

Statement 2:

“Engagement is a good thing, but we are often ignoring skills and talent. If you engage poor talent in your organisation, you are not going to get the outputs you want.”

There are any number of points that you can take issue with, not least the perpetuation of the prevalent HR tendency to separate talent and people. Is there really less talent today than there was 5 or 10 or 20 years ago? Have people really become less talented? The fact that there are no longer 30 pages of recruiting in the Sunday Times is surely more indicative of the changing nature of the recruitment market than anything else.  

However, you can see the inherent contradiction here, can’t you? If there are truly less people on the market today than there were previously, and people only leave because “their current employer has made a mistake with them” is this not de facto evidence that employee engagement efforts are becoming more effective? Of course that would seem to be the logical conclusion. However, it is not borne out by the latest Gallup survey results which indicate that only 11% of employees are engaged – or to put it another way 89% are disengaged. Nor is the UK, where Kearney is based, excluded from this as this recent report also shows.

It would therefore seem that Kearney’s stark warning that “talent management should take precedence over engagement” is totally misdirected. Not only is the science questionable, but:-

  • Talent comes in the guise of people;
  • People are more engaged when they are fulfilled and their talent is recognised and appreciated.

Infinity ring 000010184406XSmallThus it should be obvious to any manager worth his salt – especially an HR manager – that developing talent and engaging people are one and the same thing! HR will never get it right until they realise this, and headlines like "Internal talent is best - and better than engagement" certainly won't help!  


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