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How Will you Win the Talent War?

Attracting and retaining top notch employees


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Now that there are more job openings than people to fill them, 2019 is the time to get serious about being the best company you can possibly be. This year we see the rise of the individual, where top talent has the upper hand—able to pick where they want to work rather than wait for you to pick them. This leaves you no choice: You have to put significant resources into winning great people in order to grow.

The first step is understanding the major trends affecting recruitment and retention this year and resolving to make the changes you need to become a first-pick company. We see six key areas to focus on: strategic HR, culture and brand, engagement, technology, recruiting imperatives and social enterprise. It’s helpful to evaluate where you are in each area. Doing a gap analysis will deepen your insight.

Make HR a strategic priority.

HR has taken a back seat far too long. Every company should have a talented CHRO (Chief Human Resources Officer) on its leadership team to ensure a competitive edge in winning and retaining the best people. If you don’t already have a CHRO, it will be critical that you find one in 2019 or elevate the right person into this strategic leadership role. Having the right people on board is the cornerstone for successful sales and marketing, operations, financial management and customer service. Do you have a trusted CHRO on your team who competently and strategically handles the people side in a way that supports growth and profitability?

Enhance experience through culture and brand

You are in the people business. Increasingly, companies need to be aware of how people experience them, whether they are the customer, candidate or employee. Your purpose, values, culture and brand are all intertwined and should be thoughtfully and strategically aligned and managed. More specifically, design your culture to reflect your values and purpose, and don’t leave it to evolve in ways that do not serve you well. Employee expectations are continually changing, unlike in the past, and a single individual with an unhappy experience can have an immediate impact on your reputation through social media. Do you have processes in place to meet new workplace expectations and manage your employment brand? 

Earn a great ROI on engagement.

Although engagement levels have continued to rise over the past few years, Gallup finds that 53 percent of workers are still not engaged and are willing to change jobs at any time. This is costly you in terms of both lower productivity from unengaged employees and in the hiring and training to replace them. Two new ways to engage will become more common in 2019: re-recruitment, where you apply external recruiting strategies to current employees; and stay interviews, short conversations between managers and employees that build trust and understanding of what’s working and what’s not. What can you do to go beyond surveys and exit interviews to measure engagement before employees decide to leave?

Invest in new era technologies.

Middle market companies will no longer play catch-up to large corporations in terms of technology solutions for recruiting and retention. There are many innovative systems that bring new efficiencies and cost savings to companies of every size. A few of them trending in 2019 are: the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), analytics, virtual reality, and natural language processing (NLP). How are you using these kinds of new technologies to inform your hiring decisions?

Adopt the new recruiting paradigm.

The talent scarcity is putting more pressure on HR to become smarter, faster and more strategic—reaching a tipping point in recruiting imperatives this year. The new paradigm involves treating candidates like customers and using technology to get insight into the things that don’t fit neatly on a resume. Recruiters will be expected to become adept marketers and reach beyond and outside of traditional practices to meet diverse candidates where they are. They’ll prioritize the candidate experience at every step, from reaching out to hiring. What creative ideas are you incorporating to attract diverse candidates and individualize their experience in your recruiting process?

Become a more responsible corporate citizen.

“Social enterprise,” or prioritizing social goals alongside financial returns, is a major trend that no company can ignore. Organizations are assessed not only by the quality of their products or services and financial performance, they’re also judged on their reputations, relationships and engagement in their communities. This is becoming more important as younger generations, who value purpose, enter the workforce. Have you awakened to this new reality, and in what tangible ways are you engaging as a corporate citizen?

It has never been harder to find and keep the right people. Companies that understand what people want, what the competition is doing and what’s trending can address their challenges and resolve their issues to become the top choice of the top talent in the year ahead. We are now living the future of work—step in.

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Kathleen Quinn Votaw

Kathleen Quinn Votaw is CEO of TalenTrust. Her first book, Solve the People Puzzle; How High-Growth Companies Attract and Retain Top Talent, debuted in February 2016. Her firm has achieved several awards, including recognition from Inc.5000 in 2015 and 2016. She speaks frequently and advises CEOs on trends in talent and how to be strategic in developing a people strategy. Kathleen has served on several nonprofit boards including Colorado Companies to Watch and ACG-Denver. Reach Kathleen at kvotaw@talentrust.com or 303-838-3334.

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