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The Roadmap to Futureproof Talent Management

One size fits all is no longer a reality when it comes to HR. Today, employers must be aware of their company's reality, maturity, and culture. For example, there's no point in giving your employees a lot of autonomy if they are not ready for it.

Put yourself in the position of the employee, look for the right opportunities and embrace them. Telenet found this opportunity in the talent platform huapii.

We continue surfing the wave of hybrid working in our interview and enter a hybrid discussion with Tim De Troch, CEO of huapii, Jan Laurijssen, Senior Researcher at SD Worx and Joke van Gestel, People Partner Expert Talent and Leadership at Telenet who joins digital. We’re sure of at least one thing they have in common: the mission to make HR futureproof.

What’s in a name: huapii sounds pretty exotic. Why this name?

Tim: We get that question quite often. Huapii is a combination of human and happy. On top of that, Huapi is a lake in Patagonia. It is an ecosystem where everything interacts and it is a very oxygen-rich area. That resonates with our mission.

I can imagine that at Telenet you already had all kinds of tools in house to maximize talent management. Why did you switch to huapii?

Joke: We had too many tools that were not very user-friendly. People only logged in when they really had to and that didn’t give you any qualitative data. Huapii is much more intuitive and does not require much effort from employees, which makes them more likely to use it.

Tim: We also notice this in other organisations. The available tools have an administrative focus, even for talent processes. Telenet wants data and you only get that when people use your platform frequently. Huapii is a user-friendly platform and you immediately see a return. As an employee, you get immediate benefits from using the system: for instance you know what your colleagues are good at and you know what their priorities are. It’s not a tool for HR, it’s a tool for the business. That’s because originally it was tailor-made for Solvay and employees from all echelons were involved in the cocreation of the platform.

Jan, day in and day out you are busy studying the labour market and its shifts. The working landscape has changed a lot in recent years…

Jan: It is important to recognize that there is talent scarcity and immobility in the labour market. That has put a lot of pressure on organisations like Telenet to meet the talent demand in their organisations and to support sustainable growth. Consequently, the need for internal mobility grows because there is not enough talent supply. Additionally, the need for and development of the so-called ‘kills for the future’ presents an equally big challenge. Keeping up with changing talent needs was a nuisance for many talent managers even before corona because tools were no longer keeping up with the changing demand for skills.
And thirdly, lets’ not forget that next to the need for flexibility at the employer level, employees are taking their careers into their own hands as the job-for-life does no longer exists. Huapii remarkably manages to bring together the employer and employee perspective on talent management. That is what huapii does in an interesting way.

Joke, how do you respond to those needs at Telenet?

Joke: Telenet focusses a lot on trust and encourages autonomy. We support our employees in finding their own way. With a skills marketplace like huapii, you can make that happen. The tool combines all necessary information in one platform and makes it more intuitive to look at your own growth.

People plan their own careers and ask themselves whether their next job will be that of people leader, the great expert , something completely different or just doing what they are doing. It allows them to think about how to focus on their strengths. This is not to say that the entire organisation will become mobile, but it does mean that those with ambition will be able to achieve it more easily. As an organisation, with this kind of data, you can help them take action.

To what extent is it the task of the employer to steer the employee and how far do you go in giving autonomy to the employee? After all, you also have to sense whether the employee is proactive and assertive enough to handle these data correctly.

Joke: This takes time because it is a cultural change. You cannot just implement a tool, you have to create a mindset that makes them talk openly about their ambitions.

We started with a small pilot where we found that people found it difficult to be explicit about their own strengths and ambitions. Some because they were too modest and others because they kept focusing on gaps and weaknesses. Our company culture is very open compared to other companies and yet we still got those kinds of questions.

We support our employees in finding their own way. With a skills marketplace like huapii, you can make that happen.

Joke van Gestel

Jan: Sensibilization is certainly needed. A marketplace is the tool that you can use to work on career policy and practices to support talent mobility like career coaching, development centres, etc. It is worthwhile to reflect on some key questions of the career coach: “Who are you? What gives you energy? Where do you want to go?”.

Does that mean the employer’s perspective must also change?

Jan: Certainly. Talent on demand was advocated by Peter Cappelli more than a decade ago as the new talent management paradigm. The employer’s perspective did not change for a long time because we could rest on our laurels. There were enough people to be found on the labour market. According to the OECD, 14% of all jobs will simply be digitised within the next two years. We need to evolve. And not the supply and demand of people, but the supply and demand of talent. We need to plan well so that we can find the specific talent we need within five years. This is where marketplace really helps.

Does huapii respond to this?

Tim: Our labour market is not very mobile, with people stuck in a golden cage. Some of their jobs are going to disappear. It is important that, as an employer, you do not discard these people but see in time what they are good at. A tool like huapii maps this out and lets people indicate what they like to do, what they are good at… The manager must see that his own people can grow in this way.

Why is it essential to put the employee at the centre of this and put them in charge of their own career?

Joke: In the professional context, people might be interested in developing certain competencies but because of how the organisation is structured they often refrain from taking the initiative. Approval flows and hierarchy inhibit people to take ownership of their own development. If you want to learn something at home, you simply google or ask an experienced person and get to work. This is behaviour based on motivation and passion. This is what we want on the work floor too.

Jan: It is also the only way to look into the minds of the employees. HR can organise and set up all sorts of things, but ultimately it has to come from the employee. If you don’t know where the talent is to be found, we can set many processes in motion, but the top-down approach will either be partial or wrong.

What can change within companies?

Joke: It makes us challenge typical HR thinking. Realizing we don’t have all the right answers but trust your people to make the right choices. Maybe not being in control of everything they do but supporting them in what they say they need to be able to do a good job.

Do you see new trends arise?

Tim: Artificial intelligence will become smarter and smarter, and so will our tools. For example, it will no longer be a surprise when someone resigns. And based on the way you write your feedback, the system will detect that your motivation has changed. There are still many opportunities.