Organisations all over Ireland are currently developing or finalising budgets and operating plans designed to achieve their 2018 and beyond objectives. Smart firms are already tuned in to the key decisions and actions, around talent management and investment, necessary to ensure they address the “people” component of achieving these goals. Competitive firms are bedding in talent acquisition and retention initiatives and growing relationships with talent partners, designed to ensure gaps do not arise and hinder results being achieved. They understand 2018 will be the most competitive year for talent at all levels in over a decade.
Many of our own clients are amongst these organisations. They know two fundamentals; firstly, you cannot achieve worthy goals by paying 100% competitive salaries for 70% of your skill needs and secondly, that if you want different talent, you need different and innovative acquisition strategies. From our work with these organisations in the last two quarters of 2017, we share here three initiatives these firms have implemented. Individually, none of these are especially complex but when all are applied consistently, great results can be achieved.
To reiterate, this will be the most competitive year in a decade for great talent at all levels. There will be no vacuum, your organisation will either acquire from or donate to, the professional labour market in 2018. Your leadership team may well find this their greatest challenge next year.
1. Get ahead of the hiring curve
Accurate headcount planning can be a black art, more so today than ever before. Business and population expansion are now dependent on a wide range of unknown and unpredictable external factors. While attrition volume can be forecast with some degree of accuracy, too often it occurs in an unexpected or particularly painful function or skill area.
Get ahead of any planned or unexpected needs by building higher-level awareness of your most important skill communities or talent pools. Aside from your detailed headcount plan, develop a simple skills matrix, that broadly projects “the importance of the skill to business objectives and continuity” on one axis and “the difficulty in sourcing the skill” on the other. Concentrate employee marketing/branding exercises towards the skills in the top right box. Generate marketing assets for your website, for social media promotion and every available channel to promote a unique awareness of your organisation to that community. Engage with your recruitment partner for these skill areas to develop a flow of market data that keeps you informed on availability risks. Conduct ongoing external analysis of talent pools for these skills or engage a partner in developing a talent map that pulls together potential candidates. We work with many organisations at this level, investigating and qualifying the likely availability of such talent to help build a confident picture of potential supply.
2. Choose your recruitment channels
Many companies make the simple error of assuming all roles can be filled through just one channel and inevitably it breaks down, to huge opportunity cost. Whether it’s online advertising, referral and network, career fairs, broadcast media or recruitment and search firms, you need a smart combination of some or all of these to address your total talent needs. Roles under €30K PA should be filled by online media platforms and where the volume warrants it, through broadcast media advertising. Positions in the €30K to €70K can often be filled by internal referrals and networks or contingency recruitment firms, unless you have a very specialised skill or regional need. Beyond this, professional search and executive search organisations are the channel for highly specialised or leadership appointments. These roles are too important to trust to contingency chance. Develop your organisation’s “story”. The purpose, culture, people and future of your firm that positions it as a true employer of choice. Communicate your story through these channels, shaped by the target audience.
Before we ever begin a search, we ask all our clients to truly evaluate the most important channel of all, that of internal promotion. While new executives and professionals are often necessary to achieve changed climate, performance or culture, internal promotion sends extremely powerful messages, particularly where the succession has been planned and validated.
3. Make hiring / line managers true ambassadors
Remarkably, employee communication and engagement rarely feature as KPIs for line managers. It may be a hackneyed phrase, but it remains true in most searches, people leave leaders not organisations. When we engage with target executives during a search for a client, too often the motivation to consider a move comes back to a desire to change their current line leader. Ample evidence also indicates that during the hiring process, the line leader is often the draw to a firm or the reason a candidate declines to proceed.
Set your hiring managers up for success by ensuring they communicate early in hiring processes, how they show respect for their reports, how they engage their team, how they draw on their input and recognise their contributions. If your hiring manager will not engage consistently on these issues, you may have a talent blocker and source of turnover. Candidates are drawn to leaders who articulate clearly what has to be achieved, how this will happen and the value the new hire will bring to that process.
Throughout 2018, your organisation will experience greatly increased competition for talent and hard to find skills. We know quality candidates are doing well at their current organisations and engaged in more interesting work than at any recent time. Attracting and recruiting great people is extremely challenging and anyone who tells you differently does not do it on a regular or consistent basis.
Activate continuous branding towards your most important skill, build market intelligence ahead of the need. Recognise that no one channel will bring quality solutions to all recruiting challenges. Build high demand partnerships with suppliers, get your recruitment partner into the middle of your challenge and not sitting on the periphery. Ensure that your internal TA people are truly engaging with suppliers to maximise the data flow value from those relationships. Review your interview processes to ensure they promote your organisation and culture in a manner that relates better to target talent than your competitors.
True competitive edge begins by being able to attract and retain the best there is, not just the best that is easily available.
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