Attracting and retaining skilled talent

Tom Stroud
Reading time:
11 mins
August 25, 2023

The lifeblood of any thriving organisation is its people. With the rise of remote working, flexible schedules, and the gig economy, "attracting and retaining skilled talent" was identified as the top challenge in Gartner's 2022 Functional Business Buyer Survey. 

The old paradigms are shifting, and senior HR and talent acquisition professionals are at the forefront of this transformation. If you belong to this elite group, this guide is for you.

Changing work dynamics

In just a few years, the world of work has undergone a radical transformation. Factors contributing to these shifts are numerous and interlinked, driving organisations to re-evaluate age-old norms and systems. Understanding these dynamics is paramount if you want to navigate the choppy waters of talent management successfully.

Rise of the digital workspace: The ubiquity of the internet and advancements in collaborative technology has paved the way for remote work and decentralised teams. This digital transformation is no longer a novelty; it's a necessity. The workplace isn't just confined to four walls; it's anywhere with a solid internet connection. This shift offers employees flexibility but also presents challenges in maintaining communication, team cohesion, and organisational culture.

Emphasis on work-life integration: Work-life balance has been a topic of discussion for years. But now, there's a growing emphasis on work-life integration. Employees, especially the younger generation, want jobs that blend seamlessly with their personal values, passions, and lifestyles. They're looking for roles that don't just pay the bills but also provide a sense of purpose and fulfilment.

The desire for autonomy: Top talent today values autonomy and the trust to manage their tasks without constant oversight. Micromanagement is a deterrent. Empowering employees to take ownership, make decisions, and craft their workflows boosts satisfaction and enhances productivity.

Need for continuous feedback: The days of annual reviews are fading. The modern workforce craves continuous feedback – both praise for a job well done and constructive feedback to help them grow. This ongoing dialogue helps in course correction, setting clear expectations, and ensuring alignment with organisational goals.

Evolving compensation models: It's not just about the salary anymore. Comprehensive benefits packages, perks like wellness programs, professional development budgets, and flexible work arrangements are increasingly pivotal in attracting and retaining talent.

Global talent pool 

The traditional boundaries of hiring have been redrawn by the digital revolution, ushering in an era where talent can be found across continents, cultures, and time zones. This expansion of the talent marketplace is both an opportunity and a challenge. Here's a closer look at the implications and strategies for navigating the global talent landscape.

Broadened horizons: Previously, organisations were limited by geography. They typically sourced talent from their city or region. Now, with tools enabling remote collaboration and communication, companies can hire the best fit for a role, regardless of location. This means access to diverse skills, perspectives, and experiences.

Intensified competition: The flip side of a borderless talent pool is the heightened competition. As you can hire from anywhere, talent can now work for anyone. This necessitates a sharper focus on employer branding, competitive compensation, and clear differentiation to stand out in the global marketplace.

Cultural nuances and integration: With a global team comes a blend of cultures, values, and work etiquette. Organisations must proactively foster a unified company culture that celebrates these differences. This might involve diversity and inclusion training, cultural exchange programs, or regular team-building exercises to bridge any gaps.

Time zone challenges: One of the practical challenges of a dispersed team is managing different time zones. Effective communication and collaboration require setting overlapping work hours, using asynchronous communication tools, or rotating meeting times to ensure no region always bears the brunt of odd-hour calls.

Compliance and legal considerations: Hiring globally means navigating the employment laws of multiple countries. This involves understanding contracts, benefits, taxation, data protection, and more for each region you hire from. Partnering with legal experts or using international PEO (Professional Employer Organisation) services can help manage these complexities.

Continuous learning and localisation: Training and development programs must be tailored for global teams. This might mean localising content, accommodating different learning styles prevalent in various cultures, or even considering regional holidays and norms when scheduling sessions.

Evolution of HR Tech: To manage a global talent pool, HR technologies have evolved. Tools now offer features like multilingual support, geo-specific compliance checks, and global payroll solutions, all designed to streamline the complexities of managing a dispersed workforce.

In essence, the global talent pool is reshaping the way businesses operate and grow. While it presents challenges in terms of management, cultural integration, and compliance, the rewards in terms of talent diversity, innovative perspectives, and organisational resilience are invaluable. For HR professionals, this global shift demands a blend of cultural sensitivity, strategic foresight, and the right technological tools.

Skills revolution

In an era defined by rapid technological progress, shifting global dynamics, and unpredictable disruptions, the skills that professionals need to thrive are perpetually evolving. This constant state of flux, often referred to as the "Skills Revolution," is reshaping industries, job roles, and the very nature of work itself. For senior HR and talent acquisition professionals, understanding and adapting to this revolution is not just beneficial—it's imperative. Let's delve deeper.

The accelerated pace of change: Just a couple of decades ago, a skillset could remain relevant for a lifetime. With advancements in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and sustainable energy, some skills can become obsolete within years, if not months. On the flip side, new roles that were inconceivable a short while ago are emerging.

Lifelong learning as a norm: In this dynamic landscape, continuous learning isn't a luxury—it's a necessity. Organisations and employees must foster a culture of perpetual upskilling and reskilling. This emphasises not just the acquisition of new knowledge but the unlearning and relearning of concepts and practices.

Hybrid skills are king: The modern professional isn't just expected to be a specialist. There's a growing demand for hybrid skills—combinations like tech-savviness with project management or data analysis with storytelling. This intertwining of hard and soft skills creates professionals who can navigate complex interdisciplinary landscapes.

The organisational role: Companies can no longer rely solely on hiring new talent to fill skills gaps. Internal training programs, partnerships with educational institutions, and incentives for self-directed learning are strategies that proactive organisations are adopting.

Recognising skills over credentials: While degrees and certifications remain relevant, there's a shift towards skill-based hiring. Portfolios, project demonstrations, internships, and real-world problem-solving scenarios are becoming invaluable in the recruitment process.

Embracing a growth mindset: A mindset shift is at the heart of the skills revolution. Organisations and individuals need to adopt a growth mindset, believing that dedication and hard work can develop abilities and intelligence. This fosters resilience, adaptability, and a love for learning.

Crafting a strategy for success

Understand what talent wants 

The narrative surrounding talent acquisition and retention has dramatically evolved in the contemporary corporate landscape. It's essential to realise that the modern workforce, armed with information and options, is discerning and well aware of its value. To successfully attract and retain top-tier talent, HR professionals need to understand the nuances of their expectations. Let's delve deeper into these intricacies.

Holistic well-being: Beyond the traditional benefits, your employees now expect you to prioritise their overall well-being. This encompasses physical health, mental wellness, financial stability, and even social interactions. Initiatives like mental health days, financial planning assistance, and company-sponsored team-building or community activities can speak volumes about an employer's commitment.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion: Candidates are no longer just interested in the job role but are equally curious about the company culture. They want to work for an organisation that champions diversity, ensures equity and practices genuine inclusion. It's not just about the optics but about creating a space where varied perspectives are welcomed and everyone feels a true sense of belonging.

Long-term vision alignment: Professionals want to understand how their career trajectory aligns with your organisation's long-term vision. They're not looking for just a job but a journey where they can evolve and contribute to the company's evolution.

Technological integration: The modern talent pool is tech-savvy and values organisations that leverage technology in operations and employee experiences. This might mean having state-of-the-art collaboration tools, offering virtual reality onboarding experiences, or utilising AI-driven feedback mechanisms.

Environmental and social responsibility: There's a rising consciousness about the planet and social well-being. Professionals are increasingly drawn to organisations with strong environmental policies, sustainable practices, and a commitment to giving back to the community.

Personal growth opportunities: Beyond professional development, individuals are looking for employers that support their personal growth. This might manifest in supporting further education, offering soft skills workshops, or even hosting sessions on topics like mindfulness or personal finance.

Transparent communication: In an era where information is abundant, employees value transparency. They appreciate being in the loop about organisational changes, challenges, and future plans. A culture of open dialogue fosters trust and boosts morale.

A voice in decision making: Top talent wants to be something other than a cog in the machine; they're looking to be a part of the decision-making process. Even if it's not feasible for every decision, creating avenues where employees can voice opinions, offer suggestions, and genuinely feel heard can be a game-changer.

Employer branding

In a world where branding dictates choices, whether a simple purchase or a life-altering career decision, employer branding emerges as a non-negotiable for companies aiming to attract and retain top-tier talent. At its core, employer branding encapsulates how current and potential employees perceive a company. Understanding and actively shaping this perception can be a game-changer. Let's delve deeper into its facets.

Beyond logos and taglines: While visuals and catchy phrases might be a part of employer branding, it delves deeper into employees' lived experiences. It's about the culture, the growth opportunities, the work-life balance, and every intangible that defines the work environment.

Storytelling is key: Humans resonate with stories. Instead of merely listing the benefits or features of working at a company, weave a compelling narrative. Highlight success stories, showcase transformations, or share behind-the-scenes glimpses of company events.

Employee advocacy: Your employees are your best brand ambassadors. Encourage them to share their experiences on platforms like Glassdoor, LinkedIn or even through informal conversations. Authentic testimonials resonate more than crafted corporate messages.

Consistency across channels: Maintaining consistency in your employer brand message is crucial, whether it's a job posting, a company tweet, or an official press release. Mixed signals can lead to scepticism and doubt.

Addressing negative feedback: In the age of digital transparency, negative reviews or feedback are inevitable. Instead of dismissing them, address them proactively. This demonstrates a company's commitment to growth and improvement.

Leveraging digital media: Utilise platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and even TikTok to showcase company culture, highlight achievements and announce opportunities. Regular updates, interactive sessions, and employee spotlights can create an engaging online presence.

Staying updated: What was attractive to a candidate five years ago might be different today. Gather feedback, monitor industry trends, and adjust your employer branding strategy accordingly.

Inclusion and diversity: An inclusive employer brand is not only attractive to a diverse set of candidates but also indicative of a forward-thinking, progressive company. Showcase diversity in promotional materials and ensure that branding messages are free from biases.

Collaboration with marketing: While employer branding is within the remit of HR, collaborating with the marketing team can lead to synergies. Marketing professionals can bring their strategy, design, and analytics expertise to the table.

Measure, analyse, optimise: Just like any other branding exercise, metrics matter. Monitor key performance indicators such as application, acceptance, and employee retention rates. Analysing these metrics can offer insights into the effectiveness of your employer branding efforts and areas of improvement.

Perception is critical. Position your organisation as a desirable place to work. Share success stories, growth opportunities, workplace culture, and benefits clearly and compellingly.

Offer flexibility

The traditional work environment, characterised by fixed hours and a designated workspace, is undergoing a seismic shift. Flexibility in the workplace is no longer a perk; it's rapidly becoming a standard expectation, especially among the younger generations entering the workforce. In a world defined by digital transformation and a global talent pool, understanding the nuances of flexibility and integrating them can significantly boost an organisation's attractiveness. Let's delve deeper into the facets of workplace flexibility.

Defining flexibility: At its core, flexibility empowers employees with choices, allowing them to craft a work-life synergy that enhances productivity, well-being, and job satisfaction. This could mean flexible hours, choice of workspace, or even flexibility in roles and tasks.

Flexitime: Flexitime allows employees to customise their work hours instead of adhering to a strict 9-to-5 schedule. Flexitime acknowledges that productivity isn't time-bound, whether it's to accommodate family commitments, avoid peak commuting hours, or synchronise with a client in a different time zone.

Remote work and hybrid models: The COVID-19 pandemic fast-tracked the adoption of remote work, proving that many roles can be performed effectively outside the traditional office setup. A hybrid model, blending in-office and remote work, offers a balanced approach that many organisations are now adopting.

Job sharing: Job sharing allows two employees to share the responsibilities of a single full-time position, splitting hours and tasks. It's particularly beneficial for those looking to work part-time while ensuring that the role's responsibilities are fully met.

Compressed workweeks: This model enables employees to work longer hours on some days in exchange for shorter days or an additional day off in the week. For example, four 10-hour days followed by a three-day weekend.

Task-based flexibility: Instead of rigid job roles, some organisations offer flexibility in task assignments. Employees can choose projects or tasks aligned with their strengths, interests, and developmental goals.

Flexibility in benefits: Offering a 'benefits menu' from which employees can pick and choose allows them to opt for perks most relevant to their current life stage or situation. This could range from health insurance types to vacation days or professional development opportunities.

Encouraging boundaries: While flexibility offers freedom, organisations need to encourage employees to set boundaries. This ensures they don't overwork and maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life.

Technology as an enabler: The rise of cloud computing, collaboration tools, and secure remote access technologies has made flexibility feasible. Investing in the right tools ensures that employees can work efficiently, regardless of location.

Trust and communication:The bedrock of a thriving flexible work environment is trust. Managers must trust their team members to deliver without constant supervision. Regular check-ins, clear communication of expectations, and feedback loops are essential components.

Actionable changes to enhance talent attraction and retention

Revamp your recruitment process

Job descriptions: Make them precise and engaging. Highlight growth opportunities, the impact of roles, and the unique value proposition of your organisation.

Tech integration: Use the latest HR Tech, artificial intelligence and analytics to streamline the application process, match candidates to roles, and enhance candidate experience.

Onboarding with care

Mentorship programs: Pair new hires with mentors to facilitate their integration and understand the organisational culture.

Feedback loop: Schedule regular check-ins during the initial months to address any concerns and gather feedback.

Encourage open communication

Open-door policy: Foster an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing feedback, concerns, and ideas.

Regular check-ins: Instead of waiting for yearly reviews, engage in monthly or quarterly one-on-ones to discuss performance, aspirations, and challenges.

Offer benefits that matter

Wellness programs: In today's high-stress world, wellness programs, both physical and mental, can make a substantial difference.

Financial incentives: Revisit your compensation packages. Ensure they're competitive and include bonuses, stock options, or profit-sharing, where applicable.

Foster a strong organisational culture

Inclusivity: Embrace diversity and foster an inclusive environment. Diverse teams bring varied perspectives, fostering innovation.

Team building: Engage in regular team-building activities to strengthen team cohesion and build trust.

Career pathing

Provide clear pathways for growth. When employees can visualise their future within an organisation, they're more likely to stay.

Recognise and reward

Acknowledge accomplishments, whether big or small. From Employee of the Month to shout-outs in team meetings, make recognition a part of your culture.

In conclusion

The modern talent landscape is complex and dynamic. The organisations that will thrive are those that are proactive, adaptive, and genuinely committed to the well-being and growth of their talent. As senior HR and talent acquisition professionals, the baton is in your hand to guide your organisation through this evolution. Remember, at the heart of any strategy or action lies a simple truth: value your people, and they will appreciate your organisation. In this symbiotic relationship, both will flourish.

For more information on how Tazio can help your organisation create an effective recruitment process that attracts, engages and retains top talent, contact our team today.

Tom Stroud

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