Step up to training and recruitment: The war for talent part two – winning the battle

Last part in this series.

This new inclusive approach involves a shift in the way companies view their workforce. McKinsey and Company suggests that it is useful to think of the workforce as ‘a collection of talent segments all engaged in creating value’. The challenge then is to attract and retain talented employees at all levels of the organisation. The question that needs to be asked is ‘why would a talented employee choose to work here?’ The answer will vary for different employee segments, each of which will hold different expectations, values and ambitions.

Successful companies adapt their employer brand to target and attract particular segments and offer them packages that appeal to their needs. UK retailers are among some of the leaders in this targeted approach. Tesco, the world’s third largest grocery retailer and employer of over 440,000 people in 13 countries, explicitly divides its potential frontline recruits into those joining straight from school, students seeking part time work and graduates. They have developed tailored recruiting materials and dedicated sections of their careers company website to each of these groups. Tesco states “Our success depends on recruiting, developing and retaining the best people. We believe that investing in our people is the right way to live our values and it brings sound business benefits.”

Engagement is also emerging as a leading indicator for high performance workplaces, improved employee productivity and subsequent turnover. David Foreman, Chief Learning Officer at The Human Capital Institute described talent engagement as “the extent to which the workforce identifies with the company, is committed to it and provides discretionary effort so that it can be successful.”

This is particularly significant to Generation Y employees who are more concerned about career flexibility, greater rewards, a better work life balance and often the corporate social responsibility of an organisation. Companies should explore ways in which they can have a stake in the local community; develop a workplace culture that is open; value its employees and develop a hiring process that is able to evaluate candidates to ensure that they are qualified & the right motivational fit for the organisation.

Research shows that motivational fit is the single biggest predictor of absenteeism, turnover and overall employee satisfaction. Select International, a global provider of selection and development solutions, state that ‘People whose beliefs and value systems are consistent with the organisation will feel connected to the company and vested in its success.’ It is well worth companies exploring opportunities to assist employees in attaining a positive work-life balance. Flexible work schedules- job-sharing; flexitime or telecommuting and scheduling options are all possibilities that will make companies more attractive to a wide range of talent such as those who are raising children, pursuing educational opportunities or preparing for retirement.

Keeping current employees happy is an effective marketing strategy, as employees spread the news that their company is an ‘employer of choice’. It is worth noting that the talk of unhappy employees can negatively affect the company’s hiring and retention. JobVent, a peer-networking website, enables job candidates to rate their experiences of working at a particular company. They have found that a number of companies with poor employment brands have suffered immense damage as a result of scathing remarks.

Finally, companies need to explore more opportunities for talent development and effective deployment. Studies show that 70 per cent of what we need to know to do our job, we learn on the job. Informal learning is often more powerful than formal learning and opportunities for job shadowing, coaching and mentoring, cross-training, job rotation and international secondments should be maximised. Providing such opportunities for learning and development will not only help develop superior talent from within but will assist with retention of all staff. Appropriate and timely deployment will have a positive impact on business and also serves to increase engagement as employees gain additional learning opportunities.

There is no single formula for effective talent management. It is perhaps more useful to think in terms of talent functions i.e. talent acquisition; talent engagement; talent development; talent deployment and talent retention, that offer opportunities for strategies to gain competitive advantage. These talent functions are interrelated and companies need to ensure that their overall approach addresses all areas and meets the specific needs of the organisation. There is little point in spending time and valuable resources on attracting the best talent if they are quickly disappointed by the lack of development opportunities and subsequently leave.

Evidence from companies leading the war for talent show that executives and HR must work together to integrate their long-term business and talent strategies. They need to instil a commitment to, and responsibility for talent throughout their organisation. Furthermore they need to explore ways in which their company can address each talent function to improve their ability to find and keep the best talent. What is absolutely clear is that in a turbulent global economy the effective and strategic management of talent is more, not less important.



Lindsey Gordon, Stepping Stones Training and Development Ltd