Winning Today’s Talent War
Including, Engaging and Inspiring Today’s Workforce
Where have all the talented employees gone? To the organizations that value them and show it! In today’s extraordinarily tight labor market, how can your organization build and keep a stellar, competitive workforce? Read on!
With the U.S. unemployment rate holding at 3.9 percent – the lowest in five decades – American employers continue to expand their payrolls. Opportunities abound for job-seekers while companies are forced to look harder for employees – especially those with the skills they need to meet increasing demand in industries ranging from manufacturing to construction to health care. Economic experts consistently note that finding and keeping talent in a tight job market is among the toughest challenges a human resources manager faces.
Haven’t we seen this movie before? Back in the intensely competitive, low-unemployment dot-com boom, companies tried to attract applicants with a series of perks: concierge services to pick up employees’ laundry and carry out other domestic chores, free food at the office, casual dress codes. But those strategies had mixed results – people wanted something bigger, more meaningful. So what can leaders do?
- Focus on inclusion
Inclusion is not just a buzz word. According to the Centre for Global Inclusion, “it’s a dynamic state of operating in which diversity is leveraged to create a fair, healthy, and high performing organization or community. An inclusive environment ensures equitable access to resources and opportunities for all. It also enables individuals and groups to feel safe, respected, engaged, motivated, and valued, for who they are and for their contributions toward organizational and societal goals.” Review your individual and organizational practices and be intentional about creating and sustaining an inclusive work environment for all employees.
- Cultivate and engage the talent you already have
Engage your talent now! It is becoming increasingly clear that your most talented employees will be pursued aggressively by your business competitors. Organizations must have a solid talent management system and an engagement plan that connects valued employees with in-house opportunities, career development and mentorship. In other words, give people a reason to want to stay with you and contribute to the growth of your company.
Many people rate educational and training opportunities as “just as important” as the money they make. In a study by Linkage, Inc., more than 40 percent of respondents said they would consider leaving their present employer for another job with the same benefits if that job provided better career development and greater challenges. 
- Build your “talent bench”
What do you need to build your organization into the future? Identify future needs and build the “talent bench” that will meet them. Studies show that investing in training and development of current employees is far cheaper than “buying” talent from the outside. And most current employees already fit the company culture. Forbes notes that external hires cost 18 percent more on average than promoting someone internally. Development Dimensions International indicates that employees promoted internally have a significantly lower failure rate than external hires.
Check out these examples of employer initiatives to engage and retain employees and fill identified gaps in future needs.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP launched a “digital boot camp” to teach hundreds of its employees about artificial intelligence, data and analytics and other tech-related subjects. They aim to equip the PwC workforce with the new skills the professional services giant believes it needs to thrive, while giving workers an opportunity to advance their careers. The program is designed for employees of all levels, from associates to partners. “It’s a commitment by the firm to the future of our people who are already here…” said Scott Evoy, a Boston-based PwC banking and digital partner.
Sony Corporation fosters the exchange of ideas within departments by sponsoring an annual ideas exposition, during which scientists and engineers display projects and ideas they are working on. Open only to Sony employees, the exposition creates a healthy climate of innovation and engages all those who participate.
Deloitte created Deloitte Career Connections, an intranet-based development and career coaching program for all employees. It provides new job and mentoring opportunities along with a host of career development tools such as self-assessment, resume development, and articles on various job-seeking strategies within the company. During the first week of implementation over 2,000 employees participated in the program.
- A great brand helps!
Publicize your brand. Outperform your competitors and tell the world about it. Everyone wants to be with a winner. Companies that can offer workers identification with a winning brand and bragging rights for holding a job there are a step ahead.
- Identify the right candidates and meet their needs.
As noted earlier, if you want people to stay for the long term, you have to offer them compelling opportunities for advancing internally. In addition, figure out what you can give people that your competitors might not offer. Maybe it’s location, opportunities to acquire experience or flexibility to work remotely.
- Take a generational approach.
For the first time in U.S. history, there are four generations in the workplace… or almost in the workplace as our oldest Generation Z’s turn 18 this year. Leaders must plan now to inspire younger workers. Each generation brings its own set of characteristics, experiences and expectations. Organizations must tailor employment branding, recruitment and retention practices to the unique playbook of each group:
Generation Z – 0-18 years – “also called ‘digital natives’, creative and motivated”
Millennials – 19-32 years-old – “risk-taking, intellectually curious, care about social, environmental issues, team players, digitally connected”
Generation X -38-57 years-old – “competitive, collaborative”
Baby Boomers – 58-72 years-old – “idealistic, socially confident”
- Mission, Purpose, Creative Thinking, Problem-solving
Today’s valued employees want to understand the company’s mission and purpose and why their work matters. Regardless of their duties, they want to know that the company engages in and values creative thinking. In addition, the opportunity to solve problems for the company and its customers is a big attraction for new talent.
- Giving Back
Millennials – fast becoming the backbone of our digital-age workforce – as well as other generations in the lens of your talent search – want to know that a company cares about things other than revenue and profit and supports causes bigger than itself. Also, getting employees involved in charitable causes is great for teambuilding.
Leadership that attracts and keeps talent
Candidates picking and choosing between positions in several thriving companies look for leaders who display and generate:
- Enthusiasm as brand ambassadors
- Flexible and adaptable styles
- Openness to new and different ways of working
- Effectiveness at developing a culture of diversity and inclusion
- Ability as change agents
- Innovative approaches to problem-solving and building workplace success
- Networking capability (internally and externally)
As the job market continues to heat up, leaders are challenged to use the most effective, creative methods possible to include, engage and inspire top talent. Start now to enhance your talent management strategies to strengthen your current employees and develop the best and brightest of future workforces. In a competitive environment, your organization must arm all talent with the skills and tools to be effective brand ambassadors. Are you ready?
Juliette Mayers is President & CEO of Inspiration Zone LLC, a firm specializing in Diversity & Inclusion, Brand Management and Thought Leadership. Follow @juliettemayers and visit www.inspirationzoneLLC.com and www.juliettemayers.com