2018 Round-up: Our Top 10 Reads This Year

By Plum

Blog Home

A lot has happened in 2018. Remember when we had the Olympics in February? Seems forever ago, doesn’t it?

A lot has happened in the world of talent this year, too. HR teams and organizational leadership have become increasingly aware of what many are calling the “fourth industrial revolution” — a new wave of automation that will wipe out 75 million jobs, but at the same time, create 133 million human jobs. Enterprise organizations are preparing to face unprecedented upskilling and workforce planning challenges, and as a result, the status quo of talent management has come under scrutiny. Will the way we’ve always done things in the past sustain a mass migration of talent from dying jobs to net new roles? Probably not. Thankfully, many of the world’s top thought leaders are already having the conversation — how can we prepare our talent practices for the future of work?

As we reflect on 2018, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite articles from this year that address the new world of talent and how you, as a talent expert, can adopt future-ready practices in the new year. Start 2019 strong by familiarizing yourself with our top reads from this past year.

1. “Are You Overlooking Your Greatest Source of Talent?” Deloitte

"Internal mobility—how that happens—is not just a way to retain talent. It also helps to create a powerful magnet for people outside your organization who seek professional growth. The result? The talent market can see your organization as one that champions ambition and performance in everything it does."

Internal mobility is often overlooked as a talent source. The business opportunity is pretty clear-cut: not only does it help reduce costs incurred when people leave your organization, but it also provides a great employee experience, giving your talent diverse work experiences across the organization and propelling their career path. But in most organizations, it still feels a little “civil war-ish” to snag talent from another business unit or team within your own organization. This article addresses that mindset as a top barrier to why internal mobility gets such a bad rap. If you need a an introductory guide to creating a culture of internal mobility at your organization, we highly recommend this article.

2. “On Becoming a Scientific HR Function — Learning from Amazon and Google.” TLNT

"Technology and AI have finally begun to drive HR. Our leaders must now start to realize that no HR department will ever be able to make the transition into a digital, AI and technology driven HR function until they first commit to make all HR decision-making as precise and scientific as engineering decisions."

Did you know that at Amazon and Google, “becoming scientific” is a top strategic goal shared by both of their HR functions? Surprised? For some reason, even though every other business function has already shifted to the scientific model, it’s still hard to picture a “scientific” HR function. If you want to learn more about the differences between “traditional HR” and “scientific HR,” and why a scientific approach is critical to preparing for the future, read on.

3. “Companies are on the Hook if Their Hiring Algorithms are Biased.” Quartz

“There’s a whole body of predictive science out there that tells us what predicts a top performer and what doesn’t, but yet 98% of the world is using poor quality, crap data that does not predict that, and only introduces a boatload of bias."

Speaking of Amazon...did you know that this year, Amazon tried to build an algorithmic system to analyze resumes and suggest the best hires? It tanked the word “women,” like in women’s sports, would cause the algorithm to specifically rank applicants lower. If you’re worried your organization may be on the hook for the social and legal implications of AI that you use in your organization, and you want to learn more about what you can do about it, you should check out this article.

4. “What is Your Super Power at Work?” Forbes

"If you take the time to identify the super powers of your people, you will not only discover hidden talent, but you will inspire everyone to bring their personal best to work." 

We often have a tangible reference point for our employees’ skills and knowledge — after all, those are the kinds of things we’d find on a resume or performance review. We don’t so often have the same quantification of a person’s super power — what this article describes as their “particular genius: the specific, unique and specialized skill that they bring to the workplace.” We love this article because it provides such a powerful argument for quantifying that “secret sauce” — what we at Plum call “talents” — to engage your employees by making it front of mind for them that what they are contributing to the organization is unique and impactful. You can read the article here.

5. “Why Talented People Don’t Use Their Strengths.” Harvard Business Review

“Experts have long encouraged people to ‘play to their strengths.’ And why wouldn’t we want to flex our strongest muscle? But based on my observations, this is easier said than done. Not because it’s hard to identify what we’re good at. But because we often undervalue what we inherently do well.”

Speaking of super powers...why do so many people neglect to operate within their super powers at work? Probably because our super powers are things we do effortlessly, so many individuals don’t value their innate talents as much as they do the skills that have been hard-won. After you’ve read article #4 to learn how to start identifying your employees’ super powers, we highly recommend this article by the Harvard Business Review to learn how to convince your people that you value their talents, and begin building a team of employees that bring their super powers to work.

6. “It’s No Longer About Getting a Seat at the Table. Tomorrow’s CHROs Need to Lead Business Change.” TLNT

"The CHRO’s role for today has expanded well beyond administering payroll and benefits. Effective CHROs need an entrepreneurial mindset to drive and impact key business outcomes, especially around crucial customer and employee behaviors."

With all the incoming (and already instigated) disruption happening among the global workforce, the role of the CHRO is facing a similar disruption. This article compares it to the changes happening in marketing leadership over the past decade; emerging technologies have provided access to data and tools that help marketing leaders take a much more data-driven, ROI-focused approach to their work, and now marketing is a key business leader. Why can’t it be the same for HR? This article lists 3 behaviors of the strategic CHRO, which we highly recommend you familiarize yourself with before heading into 2019. Read on.

7. “The Corporate Challenge of Fitting the Future of Work with the Workforce of Today.” Forbes

"For every dollar invested in technology upgrades or disruptive services, companies must recognize the value of matching that investment in retraining their people. They not only require the technical skills for today but the mindset to remain agile and reinvent themselves with every innovation, transformation or new environment."

The “future of work” and the “fourth industrial revolution” have definitely been some buzzwords in 2018, and we only see the conversation around robots replacing human jobs becoming more ubiquitous in 2019. But let’s be honest, some of the talk can feel a little “doomsday-ish” — we may see the stats of how many jobs will be replaced by machines in the next decade and almost immediately picture a Blade Runner-esque scene. What we like about this Forbes article is its much-needed reminder that the future of work will demand a whole new breed of human jobs, from space tourism, drone delivery pilots, and digital managers for remote teams. And these new jobs will require very human skills, like agile thinking. Take a look at the full article here.

8. “Tech’s Obsession with Cultural Fit Feeds Its Diversity Problem.” The Globe and Mail

“Managers who are willing to sacrifice diversity for the sake of harmony are making a bad business decision.”

“Culture fit,” for a lot of tech companies especially, is often used as a determining factor whether someone is (or is not) hired or promoted. And we can pretty easily justify the use of “culture fit” as a hiring or promotion criteria. Isn’t it just more efficient to hire or promote someone who will immediately mesh with the team? This article makes a very convincing case for why “culture fit” is only perpetuating bias — after all, the idea is all about prioritizing harmony over differences. You can read the full article here; plus, we wrote a deep dive blog post about “culture fit” and why it’s different than “job fit,” which you can take a look at here.

9. “The Future of Recruiting Will Combine Hiring Machines With Psychology.” ERE

“For hire-bots to be able to do their job as well or better than humans they are going to have to understand individual differences the same way that humans do. In other words, to be truly game changing, hiring assessment AIs are going to have to think like psychologists.”

This article presents a very convincing argument as to why training AI with psychology can solve a lot of problems with current recruiting AI (remember the Amazon example?). Essentially, AI struggles to understand individual differences in humans — they are not suited to complex judgements required to infer meaning from a pile of data. Individual differences, however, are exactly what psychologists measure, through methods like psychometrics and expert judgement. Getting AI to think like psychologists may be the key to predicting job success and mitigating bias. Read the full article here.

10. “Want to Debias Hiring? Change What Hiring Managers Focus On.” Behavioral Scientist

“Take bias out of the decision-making process rather than the decision-maker.”

Speaking of psychology, as a talent expert, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the research going on in the field that will optimize your talent processes in the new year. Research across seven experiments revealed that how we think about and evaluate people is not immutable; it depends on the context in which we’re evaluating them, specifically in the context of other people. The conclusion — take bias out of the decision-making process rather than the decision-maker. Dig deeper into the research here.

2018 was a huge stepping stone for innovation and thought leadership in the talent world, with topics spanning AI, the future of work, leveraging your employees’ super powers in your organization, diversity, and more. We’re confident that 2019 will only be more exciting and innovative, and that more and more talent experts will be finding themselves in seats at the table, contributing to data-driven decisions that drive your organization forward.

From all of us here at Plum, we wish you all the best in 2019, and we hope that it’s a year filled with exceeding your talent acquisition and talent management goals!