Talent management is, without a doubt, one of the greatest challenges facing HR professionals all over the world. As I travel back and forth across the nation connecting with SHRM chapters and members, I hear that putting the right people into the right positions has become even more difficult in the past year. Talent is top of mind for everyone, and they all want know:
How do I make my recruiting practices more effective?
How do I retain top performers?
How do I more effectively engage employees?
Hank Jackson, SHRM President and CEO, calls talent the great differentiator in business today, and I agree with him. This week in Chicago, I had the opportunity to share my thoughts on these three questions with almost 1,500 talent management professionals at the SHRM 2017 Talent Management Conference and Exposition.
As a former recruiter, I know that their unwavering goal is to bring the best employees possible into the organization by drawing out the right talent wherever it is in the world. It’s not easy, but there are some things we can do to make our organizations more attractive to potential employees.
One way is to adopt flexible workplace practices. We need to make it easier for employees to meet both personal and professional demands. For example, many companies have begun updating their paid leave policies to include paternal and adoption leave. The popularity of these policies point us to what employees need and appreciate from employers.
We should also explore emerging trends in staffing that can help meet our talent management needs—for example, hiring contractors or tapping into the gig economy. We should also be open to considering alternative talent pools. With some broader thinking, we may find great employees among candidates with criminal records. And many applicants without direct experience in the role or the “right” job title can adapt quickly to serve the needs of the organization.
Once you find and hire the right talent, it can be challenging to retain them in this competitive market. Organizations that embrace workplace flexibility have a greater chance of keeping top performers, and so do corporate cultures that encourage long-term professional development. All employees should have the opportunity to continue learning in traditional settings and from one another. They should also be able to work in diverse teams that encourage collaboration. Research has proven that hiring individuals from different backgrounds and different walks of life betters our workforce and the bottom line. It makes the workplace community stronger and promotes idea-sharing to bring about new innovative solutions.
In this kind of environment, engaging with employees becomes easier, but knowing them is key. We must remember what values and ideals brought them into the organization, because those same principles, if continued and supported, will keep them actively engaged.
Finally, employees should feel that their thoughts and contributions are important and respected. Not only does this build a dedicated workforce, but it increases productivity and employee performance.
I believe that if we focus on recruiting, retention and engagement by taking a people-first approach to our practices and policies, we can prepare our organizations for the 21st century workplace.