Why your recruitment and talent management strategies need to change

"Talent" - probably the most overused and misused word in the modern labour market

For those involved with the hiring, development and retention of key employees, there are challenging times ahead. Talent analyst Mervyn Dinnen examines the changing landscape for talent acquisition and management and provides four key areas where HR’s approach needs to change.

Senior leaders regularly voice concerns over their future senior pipeline, but now the combination of demographic change, new technologies, shifting skill demands, and the evolving preferences and expectations of employees and customers, are creating new challenges for talent professionals.

Digital skills can be lacking. Nearly 90% of all new jobs require digital skills, yet this year alone the UK has a potential shortfall of 745,000 workers that possess them. They are important, as technology is involved in nearly everything our employees do. In fact, 92% of employees say their satisfaction at work depends on having the technology necessary to do their job efficiently.

exceptional-talent-bookExceptional talent: How to attract, acquire and retain the very best employees by Mervyn Dinnen and Matt Alder is published by Kogan Page. Get 20% off and free P&P with this code: PHRET20.

Around one-third would quit a job if the technology they were using was outdated or inefficient. HR needs to understand the digital needs of the business and be part of the conversation around digitisation.

Employees also want to be heard. Ultimate Software found that 75% are more likely to stay with a company longer if they felt their concerns were being heard and addressed; a higher proportion than those looking for recognition for their ideas. Meanwhile 71% rate open communication with their managers as a significant contributor to job fulfilment.

The opportunity for growth and development at work is now a major differentiator. Employees look for personal and professional development, and whilst we are embracing more ways to support them in learning, it is the opportunity to stretch and develop their skills and take on new challenges that is important.

Internal mobility, for so long an afterthought in companies who default to external hiring for every new position, is now a major contributor to competitive advantage.

With jobs evolving quickly, requiring skills we might have hired or developed before, this restlessness among employees for progression can be a positive. Cultures of innovation require people with agility, curiosity and flexibility, who can build on their competencies and capabilities.

This is important, as the most successful hires will often step in to a role that will stretch them and help them grow and realise potential. The challenge for recruiters is to understand the type of people you need, and finding the right way to attract and select them.

These changes all point to a new approach for recruitment and talent management. People need to be found, developed and retained differently. Employees now have more choice over how and where they work and will look for organisations that can help them grow, develop and achieve their potential.

Recruiting to a detailed job description listing historical experience and achievements, and using it as an interview checklist, no longer delivers the best results”

The way that businesses bring this offering to life, and embed it in their culture and vision, will help determine future success. Everyone has talent. It is finding the people right for the business and the role, irrespective of background and work trajectory, that organisations need to focus on.

I spent the best part of a year with my co-author Matt Alder researching these trends and how companies are responding to them for our book “Exceptional talent”. So how can HR start changing its talent approaches and help the businesses to compete?

1. Attraction and selection

Firstly, businesses need to look at the way they attract and select candidates. Recruiting to a detailed job description listing historical experience and achievements, and using it as an interview checklist, no longer delivers the best results.

We need to hire for potential and culture fit. Jobseekers now know far more about a business before they apply. We can use digital marketing approaches to create content that will reach our target candidate pool and engage them; not by creating “digital white noise”, but by understanding their concerns and aspirations and showing how our organisation can help them achieve.

Rather than design an assault-course-style selection process, look at ways to find out they can fit in and develop. Creating gladiatorial rounds of interviews may help hiring managers find reasons for rejection, but unless that they represent what your culture is really like, they will give a poor impression.

2. Redefine “talent”

The second change is to redefine what we mean by “talent”. It is probably the most misused and overused word in the modern labour market, usually implying someone who appears high skilled has high potential.

Often it also means someone who can step into a new role that replicates one they have done before and perform immediately. That’s wrong. In a recruitment market where new jobs often require skills that have not been hired before it fails to take into account the many ways in which employees can develop, use their initiative and capabilities to meet business challenges and spot opportunities.

Create an approach that will help people show what they can do, irrespective of their previous experience and achievements. Recruit for the future, not because of the past.

3. Improve onboarding

Having found the people we need, the third change is to improve our approach to onboarding. This is arguably the most important HR process, linking recruitment to development.

Korn Ferry research showed 90% of executives saying that new hire retention was a problem in their organisation, with up to a quarter of new hires leaving within the first six months. The reason? That the role is different from what they expected it would be from the hiring process. Clearly, onboarding needs to set clear expectations on role, responsibilities, timescales and objectives.

It should start during the interview stage and continue well beyond the first few weeks. A new employee should be pre-boarded, arriving with all their paperwork complete and already have an insight into their new colleagues, managers and environment.

All of this can now be done digitally, and through a mobile device, helping to increase productivity, retention and satisfaction. Rather than a probation period to be reviewed, view the first few weeks as a time of integration, taking real-time feedback on how the new hire is settling in.

4. Real-time feedback

Regular, real-time feedback is becoming a key part of the new talent processes. The fourth change is to use this as part of a people-centric employee experience. Listening to employees, understanding and acting on what you hear is important. The employee experience, particularly the way that they are integrated, developed and retained, is becoming a key differentiator.

Employees want to be listened to. They want opportunities to stretch their skills and grow. They want to know how they are progressing in real time, not at the end of six or 12 months. Goals should be agile, responding to trading circumstances, not fixed in advance.

The importance of technology, communication and internal networks to employee retention can never be overstated, and culture, purpose and recognition play key parts. It is the effectiveness of the way that we attract, hire, retain and develop our employees that will not only be the organisation’s competitive advantage, but also the yardstick by which successful HR teams will be measured.

Mervyn Dinnen

About Mervyn Dinnen

Mervyn Dinnen is a talent analyst, advising recruitment and HR technology businesses on the emerging trends impacting hiring, retention and engagement. He is a writer and international speaker on recruitment and HR trends, and an award-winning recruitment blogger. He spent 20 years working with UK companies on recruitment and HR strategies.

3 Responses to Why your recruitment and talent management strategies need to change

  1. Avatar
    Dorothy Dalton 6 May 2017 at 9:22 am #

    Hi Mervyn -very relevant post. I would add one comment. Hiring for cultural fit means meeting the biases of the dominant culture. We need to start reengineering our thinking on how we identify and process talent through the recruitment process. If we fail to create bias conscious cultures we get what we’ve always got!

  2. Avatar
    June Summers Shaw 10 May 2017 at 2:35 pm #

    Hi Mervyn

    Some very valid points but you have identified a key problem that I see often. Namely;

    “The reason? That the role is different from what they expected it would be from the hiring process.”

    I would say that the lack of clarity as to the role and the organisational expectations for the short , medium and long term in respect of their competency and development is so important. I think by the time you get to on- boarding, it is too late.

    Kind regards



  3. Avatar
    Gene Weill 10 May 2017 at 8:52 pm #

    Mervyn, great Article.Not that I am all knowing, but I have seen up close, that, as a Recruiter, and a manager, you have to know, and more importantly FEEL, the type of position you are filling.Knowledge, is not understanding..BEING, is understanding.This nailed it for me when you said, “The challenge for recruiters is to understand the type of people you need”. And to Dorothy’s point..If ya do, what you’ve always Done…You’ll get what ya always got.

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