Talent acquisition pros say they’re caught between strategic planning and cost reduction

While talent acquisition teams are being asked to focus on finding skilled workers, they’re also expected to advise on saving costs, rather than participate in workforce planning, according to an April 24 report from The Josh Bersin Company and AMS.

In a sentiment-based research analysis, TA pros said they felt perceived as “order-takers” and that their contribution wasn’t recognized. Although 55% of companies said TA specialists were an integral part of the business, only 32% of TA leaders said they serve as a strategic partner.

“These findings further emphasize the need for closer alignment and integration of TA teams within broader organizational strategy discussions,” Josh Bersin, global industry analyst and CEO of The Josh Bersin Company, said in a statement. “TA’s lack of inclusion in strategic discussion and a seemingly widespread absence of a clear workforce plan are significant obstacles that prevent the TA team from aligning its efforts with long-term business plans.”

Skills shortages continue to be cited as the top issue, with 60% of TA leaders pointing to skills concerns as a main focus. After that, 58% said they face tremendous pressure to improve the efficiency of recruiting processes.

At the same time, there appears to be a lack of workforce planning. About 42% of companies said they don’t have a workforce plan, and 40% of HR leaders said their business isn’t ready to take a strategic approach to hiring.

TA leaders also struggle with recruiting skills, with 42% saying their recruiters need more training. However, 45% of HR leaders said they were told to prioritize cost-cutting over strategic talent acquisition, which poses a barrier to training.

In addition, leaders noted numerous organizational and operational challenges in transitioning to a more strategic position. The dynamic nature of business priorities likely poses the most prominent hurdle to strategic TA planning, according to the report.

With ongoing workforce changes, companies need to incorporate HR pros into the strategic workforce planning process, according to a report by The Conference Board. Integrating TA and retention teams is key, with approaches such as sharing workforce planning data and charging talent pros with handling the planning process, it recommended.

Talent leaders are also dealing with uncertainty around work design changes related to AI and schedule flexibility, according to a Mercer report. As more employees choose to stay at their companies, more focus will be placed on employee experience, the report found.