When considering the concept of responsibility, I’m reminded of a football dressing room fracas involving a goal shy striker and an irritated Chairman (shareholder).

Following many attempts by the team manager to educate his centre forward on the logic that ‘goals win games’ the desired turnaround in the number of points scored (value) was not forthcoming. The Chairman decided to confront this issue during the middle of a half-time team talk while we were 3-0 down:

“When will you stand up and be counted for the success of this club by scoring some goals”… blasted the Chairman

“When you stick your hand in your pocket and pay me a lot more than the idiot letting them in”… retorted the striker.

And there, in that liniment air-filled moment, I realised that accountability is as much about what you’re not prepared to take ownership for as it is the things that you will. In the world of football performance, or at this club at least, it seemed that the linkage between the accumulation of goals and generating value for shareholders was a difficult one to make.

So why is this relevant to HR? Well, let me take you back to a personnel department of the 1970s. A new role has opened up within the business … an advertisement has been placed in the classified section of the local newspaper and the team are busy searching through their archive of hardcopy resumes for qualified applicants. The role of a ‘recruiter’ would be predominantly administrative and highly manual. The notion therefore of holding recruitment accountable for the ultimate success of the business would never have crossed anyone’s mind. They simply didn’t possess the tools to do the job to a level where it became a differentiator.

Fast-forward to the Talent Acquisition functions of today and we find the role of the recruiter has changed. Sophisticated cloud technologies accomplish many traditional responsibilities faster, cheaper and better than before. with operational efficiency and effectiveness becoming table stakes. The demands of the candidates have changed too. Millennials now make up the majority of the workforce, and they make career decisions differently. Over 50% of employed job seekers see their current roles as placeholders. Millennials are also twice as likely to leave a job after just three years (Job Vite 2015). Yet over the next 20 years they are set to make the difference between great performing organisations and those facing mediocrity or even financial relegation to the lower leagues.

And what about the workforce of the future? Given the rise and rise of contingent labour, how would we anticipate the recruitment function, to look? Surely they’ll stand up and be counted as the talent goal scorers of their HR generation. Because by then analytics would have proven that undeniable fact that the greater the proportion of talented people they acquire, either on contingent or permanent basis, then the more chance their business has of topping the league of corporate value. That’s going to make them a focal point for any shareholder.

So if this future recruitment function were to stand up and be counted then what would it do?

Well it would probably want to better align supply and business demand, whether it be for its permanent or contingent workforce. Recruitment channels would need to be adopted for different talent targets, for example, we are seeing the dramatic growth of the ‘gig economy’ with websites such as seeing growth of around 600% since 2011. connects freelancers with those looking for their services, with freelancers offering their services starting at $5. Websites such as or an Uber-style app may be the job boards of the future; connecting contractors with future roles, allowing past firms to provide reviews of their services and vice versa.

The function would also want to use the best technology to simplify its processes. Mobile applications are making it ever easier for hiring managers to review candidates on the go; with the introduction of a ‘Google-like’ rating system screening decisions could be made even simpler. Integrations will be used between social media such as LinkedIn and an organisation’s HR system, simplifying applying and on-boarding and not even beginning to think about simplifying payment via ApplePay or Bitcoins!

Selection decisions will drive an improvement in the Human Capital assets in an organisation, and so our future recruiters will need to take note. Leading professional service firms are moving away from using degrees or A-Levels as a screening measure; indeed Deloitte and Clifford Chance have both announced they will introduce a ‘CV-blind’ approach with reviewers no longer able to see where applicants went to University or School to avoid unconscious bias. Deloitte has turned to gamification to select 200 apprentices and if successful will roll out this approach more widely.

Given a recent article in HRZone quoted the cost of a ‘bad-hire’ as conservatively four times annual salary, our future function will also need to adopt clear governance and manage risk in talent adoption to protect Human Capital value. Its Line Managers must acquire the capability to select the right talent for their organisation.

If ever there was a group in HR that needed a shake it is the centre forwards in resourcing; the function is not responding adequately to the talent challenges, disruption opportunity or the strategic responsibility bestowed upon it by shareholders.

It also needs to be more accountable for results so let’s start by measuring it on improving the value of the Human Capital asset portfolio and see how the function then innovates and evolves.

In case you’re wondering, following the resultant relegation at the end of the season, the Manager was fired, but the striker remained. It’s a funny old game.

Mark Bowden0020SIZED

Mark Bowden - HR & Technology Advisory Lead

Mark leads the HR & Technology Advisory Practice at Deloitte in the UK. Mark spent ten years as an HR professional working in industry before taking on a consulting role focused on developing High Impact HR functions.

Mark’s experience is of focusing HR resources on the value they create for an organisation through the services they provide and as a result of that determining the operating model, technology and capabilities required to deliver those services.

The approach that Mark and his team bring to HR transformation is based on an insight led analysis and the use of tools developed by the People Workforce Analytics team within Human Capital.

Mark is a recent winner of the MCA HR Consultant of the Year and was a co-author of the Deloitte High Impact Operating Model.


Laurence Collins0086SIZED

Laurence Collins - HR & Workforce Analytics Lead

Laurence is the leader of the HR & Workforce Analytics Practice at Deloitte in the UK. During a career that has spanned consulting, outsourcing and technology roles he has focused on creating world-class HR solutions through an analytic lens.

His direct experience of building insight-driven HR capability is being harnessed by clients who are seeking to embrace analytic as a source of competitive advantage.  

From the adoption of predictive technologies to manage workforce risks, through to simulations of process improvements, these approaches are being applied across all aspects of HR. Laurence is also working on how best to track the value of this capability and link the resultant business impacts back to HR performance improvement.

He is a regular speaker at industry events and also a media commentator on the transformation challenges facing HR today.



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