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Getting People Right: 3 Talent Themes for 2014

This month’s 2014 Oracle HCM conference was inspirational and reassuring.

The inspiration came from learning about innovative practices related to attracting, developing and retaining talent; boosting employee productivity and employee engagement; and addressing the talent crunch that affects all of us – tax executives, HR executives and just about every other company leader.

And it was encouraging to hear some of the world’s top business leaders frame talent management as one of the most formidable challenges CEOs in all industries will need to address in the next few years.

“We need quality people – and lots of them,” Oracle President Mark Hurd said in his keynote address. “That’s a challenge that keeps you up at night.” Hurd said he expected his company to evaluate a half a million resumes this year and then interview more than 60,000 of those applicants with the intention of hiring roughly 20,000 new employees.

Those are staggering numbers, but companies of all sizes face stiff competition when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. This is especially the case for certain types of skills, including tax and technology. As we’ve mentioned before, finance and accounting staff positions (including tax) continue to rate as one of the world’s most difficult jobs to fill, according to Manpower’s global talent-shortage research.

A recent TaxTalent survey of corporate in-house tax departments and public accounting firms revealed that almost half of manager-level and below employees believe their career goals are not understood by management, or that management is not committed to helping them achieve their goals. This data is troubling from a staff-development perspective, as well as a retention standpoint: This particular group of employees, rising managers, are the highest in demand and therefore the most vulnerable to turnover.

As tax professionals grapple with these challenges, cultivating existing tax resources takes on growing importance. The conference was packed with insights that can help tax managers and their human resources colleagues fortify their talent management approaches; these ideas fell into three broad themes:

  • People trump technology: Even as breakthroughs deliver better data analytics and more automation, people are becoming more important to companies and their bottom lines. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison – who amassed his vast fortune by selling technology – said that he, like every other CEO he knows, is increasing his focus on talent because it is a crucial competitive differentiator.
  • The talent supply is rapidly transforming: One of the most startling figures presented at the event were these nuggets from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: 10,000 people per day reach retirement age of 65; and 43 percent of the current workforce will retire in the next 10 years. The “emerging workforce” – including the “digital-native” Millennials – will be markedly different than the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers we’ve grown accustomed to recruiting, hiring, developing and retaining. These differences will require different talent management approaches.
  • HCM is comprehensive -- and cultural: The presentations and offline discussions at the conference made it clear that an effective human capital management capability should be rooted in an organizational culture’s core values and attentive to different needs and issues that arise throughout the entire employee lifecycle.

Hearing HCM framed this way was particularly reassuring because it echoes our approach to managing talent at Vertex. I’ll write more about our Advantage Vertex Organizational Model in future posts.

Please remember that the Tax Matters provides information for educational purposes, not specific tax or legal advice. Always consult a qualified tax or legal advisor before taking any action based on this information.


About this Contributor

Colleen Kirk Headshot
Colleen Kirk
Director Organizational Development

Colleen Kirk is Director of Organizational Development at Vertex where she is responsible for enabling cross functional teams to successfully manage change. She has over 20 years of professional experience in organizational development and change management, and supports the Talent Management efforts within Vertex. Colleen has a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Behavior Studies from Immaculata University and will complete her master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from St. Joseph’s University in May of 2014.

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