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From Identification to Retention: Winning Over Today's Top Talent

By Jordan Lindsay, Strategic Accounts Executive, Kforce

Jordan Lindsay, Strategic Accounts Executive, Kforce

Talent management assumes four key functions: talent identification, attraction, acquisition and retention. McKinsey’s research and book, The War for Talent, is a true reflection of the challenges within the employment landscape today. Each of the activities within the talent management process should be top of mind for employers and are key to ensure the success of an organization. The mentality of a job seeker is no longer focused on building longevity within a company, but how the role will fulfill the individual personally. If an employee is not happy in the work place, they are more likely to leave for the next best thing.

"Employers are scratching their heads, wondering how to acquire the right people. The answer is an effective brand strategy that equally conveys individual opportunity as well as culture"

The talent management lifecycle begins with talent identification: who are the potential employees a company seeks to target? Employers need to establish a technical and cultural match for the organization to ensure the right players join the team. Defined characteristics for key players should include qualifications of required skills, in addition to behavioral and personality traits. The good news is technology can help! Talent assessment tools provide representation of an individual, insight on how they will perform in the environment and the qualities that will expose their long-term position within the company. An effective talent assessment strategy and tool will help identify and align potential employees and essentially minimize the time spent on talent acquisition.

Brand strategy is imperative for organizations, now more than ever. Our world operates on a digital platform and job seekers are looking to virtually connect with potential employers. It is a candidate driven marketplace and the mindset falls heavily on the desire to love where you work, hence the imperative of candidate attraction, as it relates to talent management.

Employers are scratching their heads, wondering how to acquire the right people. The answer is an effective brand strategy that equally conveys individual opportunity as well as culture. Millennials currently makeup the largest generation in the U.S. and are rapidly consuming the workforce. This generation’s professionals are characterized by “job hopping,” and seeking instant gratification. If a company does not adequately convey the “what’s in it for me” concept through digital branding, talent attraction will prove to be a challenge. Companies should leverage all digital channels, social media and interactive mediums to convey a day in the life at their company. A company website, LinkedIn profile, Instagram page and Twitter feed are the common tools, as these are the platforms job seekers use to gain a thorough understanding of potential employers.

Once the carrot has been dangled, will they bite? Branding serves as the stick holding the carrot, but now it’s up to the employer to acquire the talent. We’ve all experienced horrible interviews and they’re hard to forget. In the digital age, many companies are leveraging technology to perform the initial steps of the acquisition process, but there’s something to be said for sitting in front of a potential employer and establishing a connection.

Talent acquisition is where the human element comes into effect during the life cycle of talent management. Companies must have a defined interview process to yield optimal talent acquisition. A poorly managed interview process is not only a waste of time for all players involved but can lead to negative press of the employer. Considerations of effective talent acquisition should include a tool to monitor the individual at each step of the process and identify who is responsible for the next. The old sales mantra of “time kills all deals” applies in the progression of hiring people as well. Speed and transparency are imperative to keep candidates engaged throughout the process.

Not to pick on Millennials, I am one of them, but this generation of employees has a desire to feel what it would be like to be part of a company before they sign an offer letter. The days of interviewing in a cold room, behind closed doors, is archaic and non-eventful. Including on-the-job experiences and interactions during the interview process will not only further a candidate’s understanding of the position, but also convey to the employer whether the person is the right fit. A best practice would be to include multiple team members for additional perspective, opinion and ultimately buy-in. This tactic plays in favor of the employer, understanding that if the whole team is in favor of the candidate joining the company, they are more likely to help them succeed. Top talent will have multiple offers to choose from and studies show that the majority will select the role where they “felt” the best.

Transparency and investment are key components of talent retention. People are born with a desire to be successful regardless of what that is. Retention starts with the first day of employment. Clearly defined expectations and onboarding parameters will aid in the ramp up and development of new team members. eLearning modules in addition to hands-on practical application (technology and human synergies) produce the fastest outcome of new hires. Companies should strive to build an electronic roadmap towards new hire development, where the individual can learn and hold themselves accountable to become a contributing member of the team.

Successful companies operate with an open-door policy where the voice of the employee is heard and implemented. Again, this generation is yearning to be creative and make a difference. Employers should seek to create an environment that allows for individual ideation and accountability, which can both be a balancing act at times. Clearly defined career paths that convey leadership investment and allow the individual to be part of something bigger than the day to day is what this talent population is seeking and will ultimately establish loyalty to their employer.

Time is valuable. Acquiring and retaining people is time-consuming. Employers should focus on each activity within the talent management process to ensure their organization is best suited to be the employer of choice.

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