Management guru Jim Collins once remarked, "The single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people."
To know this fact is one thing; succeeding at talent acquisition and employee retention is another. Great talent is scarce, and sourcing top performers and identifying potential within your workforce are challenging. In down economies and markets with talent shortages, these issues become even tougher.
Consider the Correlation Between Business Performance and Talent Quality
According to McKinsey's research, the influence of talent on success grows stronger with job complexity. Talented employees are more productive, which decreases project completion times and increases success rates. However, McKinsey reports that 82% of companies don't believe they recruit highly talented people. For those that do, only 7% think they can retain it, and only 23% of leaders believe their current acquisition and retention strategies work.
The following are fundamental and effective strategies for talent acquisition and retention. Employers must take advantage of these human resources mandates in order to come out ahead and compete for scarce talent — both locally and internationally.
Talent Attraction Strategies
- Promote a compelling employee value proposition (EVP)
Your EVP reflects talent market research in your hiring area and surveys of current employees, so your findings must be accurate. As a human resources (HR) professional, you can influence many factors make up an EVP — including benefits and compensation — and can also influence long-term factors, including company reputation and workplace location.
In their EVP, employers must seek superior leaders, an attractive company culture, community involvement, work-life balance, opportunities for growth and advancement and a meaningful sense of one's role and recognition for good work. Of course, competitive wages, benefits and perks remain as important as ever. But members of the Millennial and Gen Y generations, who comprise the bulk of today's workforce, typically have an emotional resonance with many difference-making factors.
Targeted propositions that appeal to your organization's most important positions matter. Know which positions are crucial to your company's bottom line and determine which factors are decisive in compelling them to join your organization. You may have to persuade top management to up the ante, but this could be the most important work you do.
- Improve the hiring process
The most talented employees can pick employers, and many companies lose top talent with easily correctible mistakes. Top performers balk at unnecessarily long online applications, multiple interviews, ambiguous job descriptions and poor communication during the hiring process.
To improve your hiring process, consider planting supremely qualified test applicants to report back. You should also conduct post-employment surveys of new employees to understand their impressions and what can be improved. Finally, follow through with a strong onboarding process. For example, in a Bamboo HR survey of employees who quit shortly after being hired, 23% revealed that their decision might have been different if they had received clearer direction around their role.
- Strengthen the appeal of your company culture
For younger generations, the appeal of work is largely a function of life in the organization. That includes the meaningfulness of the work, how employees relate to one another, the contributions the company makes to its local community and the individuals' fit with the culture. According to Jobvite, 32% of workers would agree to a 10% salary reduction if the appeal of the company culture was strong enough.
Employee Retention Strategies
- Institute varied forms of recognition
Humans are hardwired to respond well to recognition, but older generations were usually willing to work hard without much acknowledgment. However, employees today — especially the most talented — must feel that their contributions are seen and valued in order to find a purpose. Professional validation includes feedback from managers and leaders, awards and accolades, raises and bonuses, increased paid time off and work-life balance benefits.
- Focus on professional development, continued learning and planned advancement
When top performers feel stagnant, they leave their employers. They need to know learning and advancement opportunities are built into the company they work for. HR professionals should create varied learning opportunities, including classroom-style training, online resources, mentoring and industry workshops. Work as a team with managers and top performers to develop career arcs with specific but flexible future promotion options. Build skill development plans so employees know how they will acquire and develop skills necessary to advance according to plan.
- Avoid hiring job hoppers and bad culture fits
This strategy is one you will use during the employment process, but it is one of the most important ways to boost retention. If you hire candidates with a track record of staying with previous employers, you will find see high retention rates and build a stronger company culture. Also, identify cultural fits during the hiring process and resist the temptation to hire strong talent when the fit is not right.
The impact of a strong HR department has never been more vital to the success of organizations. Talent acquisition and retention is its most important role, and the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) is committed to developing leaders who can retain the best talent.
Learn more about UNCW's online MBA with a Specialization in Human Resources program.
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