This is part 2 of our Talent series. In it, we focus on this essential resource for all modern businesses and take a look at the concept from various perspectives. The goal? To better understand talent and how it affects the workplace, how we can foster it, and how we can make the most out of it.
You can read part 1 of the Talent Series here.
If you own a business or work in a managerial role in any company, you don’t need to be reminded of how difficult it is to get the right talent to form a solid team. You already see why, according to a PwC survey, 77% of CEOs see the lack of people with the right skills as the biggest threat to their business.
In recent years, getting the perfect people to fill out specific roles was a challenging task. A tight job market (especially in tech-related industries), a very competitive landscape, and a cultural shift on job seeking all played a part in making the hiring process even more difficult. But even in good circumstances, finding the best talent around is a complicated issue.
Some people are saying that given the business impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’ll be easier to find certain kinds of professionals. And while that might have some truth to it, there are some fundamental problems that go beyond the candidates’ availability and willingness. In fact, a good hiring process isn’t tied to contextual aspects – not that tied, anyway. That means that offering a coffee machine or a good salary doesn’t necessarily translate into hiring good candidates.
To get the true talent it’s highly important to look at some underlying things that we’ve taken for granted. Here are some things to keep in mind.
The Hiring Shift
One of the things that are painfully evident today is that the era of lifetime employment is gone. That was the world of our fathers, where you could land a job in your 20s and keep it until you retired. That’s unthinkable now, as both the nature of the jobs and the motivation behind the workforce has drastically changed.
That has had an impact on how we can hire the best talent and what we can do to keep it. This has led companies to increasingly look for candidates at all times, a phenomenon marked by the rise of the passive candidates.
This, in turn, has stirred the staff across companies, since candidates are open to hearing new offers from other businesses and might leave at any time, creating vacancies that need to be filled. The whole process is boosted by new generational attitudes towards work outlooks and expectations for the mid and long term.
That, of course, gets companies trapped in a loop where they are constantly looking for talent, poaching it from other companies, and getting poached in the process, with a varied turnover rate. To a point, it feels like there’s no other way to get candidates, especially those that are among the best at what they do. However, that doesn’t have to be the case.
There are several strategies that you can use to cope with the new job paradigm and get you out of the hiring loop we’ve grown so accustomed to. From considering your internal talent and enhancing the hiring process, to measuring the effectiveness of the diverse hiring practices, there’s plenty you can do to access more talent – and keep it around for longer. Some of that include:
- Be Realistic about what You’re Looking for: as a quick Google search can show you, people are tired of unrealistic job requirements. The “have-the-cake-and-eat-it-too” mentality of a lot of businesses is driving them to put out job ads where they are being unreasonable.Naturally, talented people stay the hell away from those job postings – and their companies. The reasons are pretty obvious: no one wants to work for a company that offers perks instead of salaries or that refuses to acknowledge that the employee has a private life. Companies don’t have to go that far to scare talented people away. It’s becoming sadly common for businesses to look for candidates with an unreasonable amount of experience in vastly different skills and fields.So, if you don’t want to make those mistakes, be realistic about what you’re looking for in your job postings. That means that you don’t have to describe an ideal candidate you know won’t exist. Instead, try to look for candidates that have the core competencies you have and be flexible about them. You can list a couple of desired requirements, but make sure to communicate they aren’t dealbreakers. And keep your requirement list short. Remember, they are must-haves, not a wish list.
- Use Referrals Wisely: trusting your employees to refer you to talented people is a great way to find good candidates. We know so because BairesDev has a successful referral program that has gotten us in touch with some amazing professionals. However, using a referral program has some limitations that you need to understand for it to work properly.First and foremost, having a good referral program doesn’t mean you can do without other hiring channels. Your network can take you so far, and you’ll need to get out of it to scour for different candidates (especially those in new fields or with other backgrounds). A referral program can lead to a homogeneous workforce because people most often refer to friends and family. It’s not that this is a terrible problem, but you should keep that in mind if you want to have a diverse team (which you totally should).
And then it’s the instrumentation of the program itself. It naturally implies a reward for the referrer but it also should take into account the onboarding process of the new hire. Research suggests that referrals can work out better than other hires, mainly because referrers take into themselves to onboard them. Though this might happen informally, you should make it a part of the strategy – and reward the referrer for the onboarding as well.
- Consider Internal Talent for New Openings: a couple of decades ago, it was a frequent and somewhat expected mechanism for most companies. Whenever an opening turned up, management would look into their staff to see who they could promote to fill it. That’s not the case anymore, as only 28% of talent acquisition managers say that internal candidates are an important source of talent.That doesn’t have to be the case, though. There isn’t evidence that an experienced outsider will perform better than an insider. In fact, there are times where it’d be beneficial to have an individual familiar with the company’s culture and inner workings as a candidate. There’s no onboarding process nor acclimatization time.And if what’s keeping you from considering internal talent is the lack of specific skills, maybe you should start an upskilling and reskilling process. These training programs can provide valuable employees with new tools to take on bigger roles and new tasks. They also contribute to a higher level of brand engagement and talent retention, in addition to being a great source for professionals when the need arises.
- Don’t Concentrate Efforts on Passive Candidates: When looking for a specific role with a certain amount of expertise, most companies go the sneaky way – poaching people from other companies. The logic behind that is simple. Talented people are scarce, especially those with experience, so they are most likely employed. That means that to fill that vacancy, the only way is to sift through candidates in LinkedIn and such and make the best prospects an offer they can’t refuse.As tempting as that may sound, you should think a little more about it. There’s no guarantee that the efforts you’re making to bring that individual into the fold will pay off. What’s more, nothing ensures that those passive candidates won’t leave for a better monetary offer in the future, forcing you into the loop once again.Instead, try to see what active candidates can provide you. Maybe they aren’t as experienced as passive candidates, or perhaps they don’t have one or two of the skills you aspire them to have. But chances are that their motivations to change jobs isn’t money but rather a career growth and better work environment. At the very least, someone that’s employed but it’s actively seeking a job shows some drive and ambition that could work well in your business.
Talent Retention Starts With Recruiting
This article has focused mostly on hiring talent and not so much on retaining it. There’s a reason for that: choosing the right candidates during the recruiting process improves your chances of keeping them for the long run. That selection process doesn’t just have to do with technical skills or ambition. It involves looking for the right fit for your company’s culture and vision, a balance of hard and soft skills, and an individual that can work strategically as you move towards your goals, advancing as you go.
It makes sense. Talented people want to work for talented companies that make the best use of their skills while providing them with challenges and opportunities. In that way, you have to think of this as a long game, so engaging with the right people from the get-go is essential for your company’s success.
Of course, there are other things you can do to retain the top talent, including the upskilling and reskilling programs mentioned above. Investing in your staff shows your employees how committed you are to them, which has proven effects on productivity and engagement. Additionally, those programs are often-neglected perks that candidates highly value.
Perks are some of the most obvious ways to retain talent and rightly so, as long as you don’t blow them out of proportion. No pool table nor home-office Fridays make up for asking your staff for extra hours on a weekly basis. In other words, perks are necessary to make talent stay but they need to be accompanied by a sound approach to work and a human-centric culture.
Finally, there’s another great way to keep retention rates high that we at BairesDev know so well – having feedback instances for employees to chime in the company’s way of doing business. This can include a wide spectrum of possibilities, from regular meetings of managers with their staff, anonymous surveys, horizontal strategy planning, and more. The central idea is for your staff to feel like they belong like they can influence where the company is headed – because they do and they can!
You can use all the information you gather in those instances to make more informed decisions and accommodate pressing needs that can bring down your turnover rate. You can use AI-based tools to get the most out of this data and assess insights more thoroughly. The important thing is that you actually act on those feedback instances, as no one likes to be tricked into thinking that their opinions are valuable only for them to go largely ignored.
The Talent Challenge
Getting the right talent for your company and keeping it around is a challenging task. That’s especially true given the flawed standard of talent selection that most companies adopt today. Redefining the entire hiring process is a necessary first step towards a talent revolution in your workforce.
Some of the things we’ve considered here will help you but you don’t have to stop there. In fact, you should develop a series of metrics to measure the cost-effectiveness of new hires to understand how well you’re doing and how much you can improve.
Of course, you should also combine that with internal efforts to retain talent. Changes to the company’s culture and workflow, training programs, increased transparency, and new perks are some of the roads you can take to enhance your retention rate.
However, you should keep in mind an undeniable truth of business – you’ll always have some level of turnover. People will come and go regardless of what you do, so you should focus on limiting that turnover rate to the minimum and developing a robust hiring process that can come to the rescue when people leave.