Addressing the talent shortage

Recruitment and retention of talent will always be high up on HR’s list of priorities, but given the current recruitment landscape – lowest levels of unemployment since 1974, a growing skills gap and ongoing talent shortage – the need to have a clear strategy in place for recruiting and retaining the right talent into the business is becoming more acute.

This was the focus of our recent London HR Leaders Forum which set out to address this business critical issue; paying particular attention to how organisations can continue to effectively recruit and retain the right employees with the skills needed to meet the demands of the highly competitive, changing and uncertain market as well as discussing specific strategies organisations could put into practice to proactively manage the talent shortage.

Being an employer of choice: All that glitters isn’t gold

A key theme that ran throughout the session and a concern expressed by many attendees was how to become an employer of choice.

Scrolling through LinkedIn you’ll see many articles containing the ‘key’ to becoming the sought after employer, often these highlight some new and quirky way to help you attract top talent, but what happens if you’re not an organisation that can replace your stairs with a slide? Or set up a ping pong table in the kitchen? Or ‘nap’ rooms. What if you’re not developing or dealing with the latest technologies or have a roster of award winning clients? Or are an award winning business yourself? These concerns expressed by a large number of our attendees demonstrated the lengths some organisations are going to whilst driving a ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ mentality for others.

The good news is that in today’s market, employees are not easily swayed by slides and ping pong. In fact they are more discerning. They’re on the lookout for organisations with strong values and culture, a purpose they can connect with, career development opportunities and inspirational leadership to make them want to join, and stay, with a business.

So what steps can organisations take to help them become an employer of choice and a ‘magnet’ for talent.

Career development – know what employees want

Employees want to feel supported on their career path. They want to be secure in knowing there are plans in place that will help them evolve and develop within whichever organisation they choose to work for.

How can you do this? Through having clear career development, mentoring and coaching programmes in place.

Companies that do this are automatically seen as more attractive to potential employees. Moreover, such development programmes enable you to leverage your high performers’ desire for professional growth. They also drive engagement and improve the agility of your employees to look for ways to continually evolve their skills so that they remain relevant to the changing needs of the business. And let’s not forget, these types of development programmes provide in-depth information on employees that aides succession planning.

If you already have development programmes in place great. However they need to be continually reviewed and adapted to ensure they remain relevant, both to employees and business needs. Speak with current employees to engage them and really understand what they expect from development programmes in conjunction with business leaders to find ways to improve them.

The right leaders with the right skills

Leaders lay the foundations for a business and are often responsible for setting ongoing expectations for company behaviours, attitudes and performance. Therefore, having the right leaders with the right skills is vital in becoming an employer of choice.

Employees and potential employees want to feel confident that leaders within the organisation they have chosen or are considering have the capability to drive business performance and develop strong, shared business goals.

To achieve this, coach your leaders to unlock their potential and improve their performance, ensuring they are conveying the right messages both verbally and non-verbally.

Strong positive leadership impacts all aspects of business: helping employees to feel connected, improving loyalty and performance. Alongside brand, leadership is a core ingredient in talent attraction as candidates will be drawn to businesses that have a strong ethical leadership culture as well. So if you haven’t already, it may be time to look at how your leaders are rated on Glassdoor.

The importance of culture and values

Organisational culture and values can often be the make or break when attracting new candidates to your business.

When roles are in abundance candidates are even more selective when it comes to who they are willing to work for. This is where culture and values come to the forefront. This again is down to leadership.

A great example of this? US manufacturing organisation ‘Interface’ – not necessarily seen as industry leaders, well known or in an industry that viewed as particularly exciting, however, when leader Ray Anderson stated that the company would produce zero waste, zero emissions and take nothing from the earth by the year 2020, he unlocked a great recruitment and retention tool.

By focussing on social responsibility and developing strong organisational values, Interface were able to attract top talent from across the world. When candidates were asked why they wanted to work for Interface (as opposed to global brands such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft) they reported that it was because they were doing something that was ‘good for human kind’ and felt their work was making a difference.

Reducing the impact of business change

Change is constant, we know that. But nothing unsettles employees more, and at times it can be a major driver for employees deciding it is time to leave. Often, it’s those employees an organisation cannot afford to lose who go first.

During any change management programme it’s important to consider the direct impact on employee engagement, retention and attraction. Candidates are less likely to want to work for a company who may be known for dealing with change badly.

Consider how you can protect employees and your brand, during times of change. If going through a large change programme and redundancy is unavoidable ensure your employees have the right support in place. If it’s a merger or acquisition be aware of how this impacts your top performers, are they seen as top talent in the new business structure? Or have they been lost in the change, which may lead to a drop in engagement and make them more likely to move on?

Employee expectations

It’s not always about the slide, the ping pong table or lunchtime HiiT classes. Employees want and expect more from their employers or potential employers. Why? Because they currently have options and can be very selective when it comes to choosing the organisation that they work for.

Employers must recognise this and develop their organisations internally so that employees feel supported to reach their career goals and that leaders have the skills needed to create strong culture and values, in turn helping your organisation to become the employer of choice and reduce the impact of the talent shortage.

INTOO HR Leaders Forum

Our HR Leaders forum provides an excellent opportunity to informally discuss topical people issues that are affecting businesses, whilst learning, sharing and networking with senior HR colleagues from various sectors.

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