By Deborah Kops and Janet Ramey
It’s time to dust off our crystal balls again. How much difference a year made!
Looking back, last year Sourcing Change called several things right: hard process and management skills were very much in demand, the use of gig workers did remain fully aspirational, and though automation investments continue, it did not displace the strong focus on talent and human capital. Through the year, we found that the pool of MVP talent did not expand dramatically, outsourcing did not go away, and the requirement for service management skills increased.
But in the height of operating in COVID, we missed a few: namely, the acceptance of work from anywhere (it did prevail), the reduction of middle management (it’s still very much around), and the persistence of organizational silos (still a challenge in multi-functional GBS).
A new year means a new start and a clean slate of prognostications. Here’s what Sourcing Change believes the market will portend this year.
- The “great retirement” will thin the ranks of senior leaders
We’d argue that one of the biggest talent market challenges isn’t resignation, it’s retirement. Arguably, the GBS and shared services industry started 20 years ago and hit its stride in the last decade. The initial crop of leaders — then in their early forties — now have pension balances, weekend homes, decent golf handicaps and even grandchildren. Our worry for the market? The wise men and women who have shaped the industry are off to other pursuits, taking their insights and wisdom with them. That’s a loss for the industry. What’s the fix? New engagement paradigms—interims, advisory roles, part-time—to retain critical experience are required.
- Talent will become increasingly restless
Was the Great Resignation a reality for the enterprise business services industry? We’re not convinced. A few days into 2022, talent is looking elsewhere—to other companies, to new opportunities. What we see is candidates seeking meaningful work. Even “lifers” – those with 20+ years growth in a single company – are sounding out the market. What this talent demands now: an opportunity to build, apply well-developed skills, re-energize, and gain broader experiences. GBS leaders will have to rethink capabilities, career passporting and career paths to retain their teams.
- Loyalists will go back into the business
For the past five years, the backbone of GBS leadership has been the loyalist—the corporate “safe pair of hands” who was tapped to stabilize and embed the model into the enterprise. Their tours of duty are about to end, either by retirement or transfer into other enterprise roles, opening opportunities in leadership teams for advancement. However, fewer GBS organizations than you’d think have comprehensive succession plans. 2022 is a great time to future-proof.
- The drawbridge will stay up: cross-border recruitment will be the exception rather than the norm
Headquarters location will continue to drive search parameters, especially in post-Brexit UK and the US. Whether real or perceived, the hassle of securing visas, the optics of international recruitment, or the parochialism of hiring “one of us” will make cross-border hiring a rare exception.Thinking about talent globally-as opposed to locally or regionally-will require a mindset change, not only on the part of GBS leaders, but also the enterprise’s HR department.
- Resistance to relocation will remain high
After almost two years of remote working, willingness to move will remain low, even for plum roles. Candidates will continue to challenge the need to relocate, even if proximity to stakeholders is mission-critical, often withdrawing if the requirement is non-negotiable. Employers who demand relocation will find their talent pools diminished. GBS leaders need to balance access to the right talent against the benefits of managing by walking around. Asking whether a relocation is really business critical for all roles (sometimes they are) is the right exercise.
- New ways of working will be top of the agenda
To combat attrition, alienation, and burnout, GBS and shared services leaders will be compelled to develop new ways of working that go beyond the quizzes, meet-ups and buddy systems that characterized talent engagement in the COVID era. Managing burnout and meeting fatigue will continue to be a focus for organizations. Moving to more effective ways to engage employees while managing workload is key to maintaining productivity and well-being into the new year and beyond.
- Hyper-personalization of GBS roles will become a vital talent management tool
As attracting and retaining the right talent becomes increasingly business critical, tailoring working conditions and even compensation is expected to become the norm, not the exception. We are seeing the start of the trend in hot markets such as India. Expect to see savvy GBS leaders get creative by identifying personas and shaping packages to allow flexibility that talent is demanding.
- Demand for technical skills will increase
Global product owners (GPOs) will continue be to in demand, but across the board, the focus will be on candidates who can grow beyond the task to focus on continuous improvement, process mining, analysis, and incubation. Skills such as LEAN, Kaizen and Six Sigma continue to be desirable – more so when candidates can show results and outcomes versus certification. Smart GBS organizations will develop interventions to go back to basics and ensure that sufficient left-brain skills are readily available.
- Candidates at all levels will be expected to demonstrate emotional intelligence (EQ)
With the increased complexity of remote working, employers will prioritize candidates with the ability to influence (often without authority), manage diverse stakeholders, and deliver durable change. These requirements won’t just apply to top management roles; they’ll be in demand throughout the ranks of a high-functioning GBS. Identifying the capabilities that support EQ and ensuring that the organization in its entirety – not just a few client-facing roles – demonstrate them should be on every leader’s agenda this year.
- Operators will be golden
Over the past few years, process, automation, and analytics skills have been on every GBS leader’s top 10 list. 2022 will be the year of the operator: a professional with a track record of taking organizations from concept to execution, from transformation to transition, from PowerPoint to process. Smart GBS and shared services leaders will prioritize operational acumen in their organizational development.
And surprise: enterprises will retrench. Last year, tinkering with a business services platform that was successfully delivering quarter close, collections, onboarding and payments was unthinkable, giving GBS management some sense of legitimacy and stability. By the end of 2021, however, we started to see model retrenchment as well as expansion. “Transformations” that seemed the right thing to do in the dark days of COVID were subject to a rethink; as price tags, ERP implementation headaches, and time to value realization came into focus, some enterprises started backing down from big plans. As a result, the leaders who were brought in to lead the charge are out on the streets or reading the tea leaves. Retrenchment will present a great opportunity for GBS organizations to pick up some seasoned talent.
Will our predictions in 2022 hold true? Follow us on LinkedIn as the year unfolds.