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Hay Group: Engagement Creates Talent Challenge

Oliver Rueth, U.S. Market Leader for the Employee Engagement practice of Hay Group, says business is good, almost too good.  “Our No. 1 problem right now is not how to expand our business, structure our organization to handle the new marketplace, or develop a plan. Today, our challenge is finding the talent we need to manage the new requirements of our clients." 

Rueth’s group is one of the world’s largest providers of engagement survey and assessment services and as a result has been at the forefront of the engagement movement. He says that the great potential for Hay Group and its customers is not only to conduct effective surveys, but to create true client impact and actionable plans based on the outcomes.  “It’s not just about interpreting the data and telling companies their engagement is up or down, or that such and such should be done. Clients today want an action plan with measurable results, and we see our role as providing a complete end-to-end solution that helps turn human resources into a profit center."

To Rueth, that means having high level business consultants who can work at the C-suite level “to not just analyze survey results in the context of employee opinions or how they feel, but to understand the results in the context of what the organization is trying to achieve; it’s current business climate and challenges, its brand standing, financial situation, etc. and to help organizations create solutions with a clear return-on-investment. Our great challenge today is finding the people who not only have extensive business experience but who can come at engagement from the perspective of an organization’s needs, and not from the standpoint of an expert in one area or another of engagement."

Needed:  People Who Can Create Solutions That Drive Measurable Positive change

Rueth says that almost every professional services practice has experts in different areas of people management, “but what the client needs is someone in the end who can provide solutions that impact the client’s business, not someone who will come up with a clever reason to use what the company is trying to sell.” This new type of consultant, he says, has to not only understand the framework of engagement and all of the audiences, strategies, and tactics involved, but “has to really understand a client’s business."

Too many organizations, Rueth believes, are not getting the ROI from their engagement surveys and as a result often stop conducting them after a few years. The problem boils down, he says, “to the simple inability of the typical professional services firms to provide an enterprise engagement solution in the way they can implement other established processes.” He agreed with the views of Bret Starr, founder of The Starr Conspiracy, who was quoted recently on ESM saying that the professional services firms have not yet developed a practical business model for an engagement practice.

To do so, says Rueth, requires not only an engagement framework and implementation process. “That exists,” he said. The real challenge is developing business impact and finding the new type of consultants who can look at an organization’s business objectives, brand, marketplace, financial situation, and use of current engagement tactics, to develop the best possible solution.  “There are very few if any people trained in precisely the type of expertise organizations need today at the very highest levels,” said Rueth.

Engagement, he said, provides human resources departments with an almost unprecedented opportunity to provide true value to the organization, but need help to not only make the case but to design and implement effective new strategies and “see them through.”  While growth is not his problem today, Rueth says it is just as important for Hay Group to find business development experts who can apply the consultative approach needed to succeed, as “we always have to be prepared for tomorrow. We need business development experts who can work with human resources to help make the financial case for engagement with the chief executive officer, the chief financial officer, chief marketing officer, chief human resources officer, or corporate communications management.

Says Rueth, “We at Hay Group believe we have the expertise, combination of services, and intelligence to help our clients turn their assessment tools into strategies that achieve key objectives in a measurable way. Given our growth, we continue to need people who can help us meet the market demand.” Rueth said the need was so great for these types of professionals he is willing to invite qualified candidates to email him directly at

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