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How to Compete for Top Talent in a Time of Talent Scarcity

How to Compete for Top Talent in a Time of Talent Scarcity

June 13, 2019

The current employment environment has HR professionals searching for answers to the challenges of recruiting and retaining top talent. Finding and holding onto high-performing employees touches almost every aspect of the talent mobility continuum: talent discovery and attraction; inclusion and diversity; career development, reskilling and upskilling, soft skills development, employee engagement, redeployment, delivering five-star employee experiences, and promoting the employer brand. And, it’s precisely the question that Randstad Sourceright sought to answer in its recent Q2 Talent Trends Survey.

Answering the talent attraction question requires first understanding what drives top talent, and the areas of alignment and disconnect between employees and employers. The digitalization of business, new definitions of work, and the perspective of millennials—who comprise the largest part of today’s workforce—are driving the rapid evolution of work. What became clear in the survey is that everyone’s expectations are rising: 61 percent of employees and 83 percent of human capital and C-suite leaders expect more from each other and more than 76 percent of employers say talent scarcity is a top concern. Success now, and in the future, requires employers and employees to anticipate the future and respond with agility.

Randstad Sourceright’s survey identified six key steps to understand and get ahead of talent expectations to attract, develop, and retain the best and brightest:

  1. Create your employer brand with the real motivators of talent in mind
  2. Avoid the pitfalls of a poor talent experience
  3. Engage job seekers with the right combination of tech and human touch
  4. Reskill your workforce to get fit for the future
  5. Harness diverse perspectives to provide an inclusive workplace
  6. Manage the risks of AI and automation to create opportunities

Step 1: Create your employer brand with the real motivators of talent in mind

Employers and employees differ about what matters most to employees when it comes to being an employer of choice. When asked to respond to the top five aspects employees care about most when considering their ideal employer, job seekers view attractive salary and benefits at the top of the list (40 percent), while employers ranked it 13th.

Financial health of the organization, along with job security and work-life balance, were roughly equally important for job seekers, coming in second at 35 percent. By contrast, nearly half of employers thought job security was important, and 35 percent believed financial health and work-life balance mattered to prospective employees.

Career progression opportunities made the top five, but only 31 percent of job seekers said it was a top consideration, putting it in fifth place, while half of employers thought prospective employees cared most about this aspect.

This last figure represents a sizeable disconnect and may explain why 87 percent of workers are disengaged. Employee burnout due to rapid workplace changes may be the culprit. Almost half of the talent surveyed (44 percent) stated that it was difficult to keep up with work, while 46 percent are worried about having skills needed for the future. Yet, two-thirds of working professionals expect their employers will provide training in the next year, and nearly half of those anticipate the courses will be suited specifically to their roles. The downside: More than half of employees don’t believe the training will be tailored to their needs.

About 60 percent of employees think they’d have a better chance to move to new roles within their organizations if they had better digital and tech skills, and about the same percentage wished their companies were more transparent about opportunities.

Insights for HR

Talent mobility is a mindset and a continual employee experience that defines the employment life cycle. It is inclusive and immersive—flowing from an organization’s culture to encompass employee acquisition, development, and transition. Having this mindset will enhance the employer brand, making it easier for your company to attract top talent in a time of scarcity.

Related content: The Intersection Between Talent Mobility and the Employer Brand

Such an approach means that at any time during an employee’s tenure, he or she may seek out opportunities to grow skills in the current role, stretch via a project assignment, or permanently shift roles—and not always due to organizational change. An internal talent mobility program can identify opportunities for employees, help them create professional brand stories, and allow them to achieve career success so that your company retains the best and brightest.

Career development coaching and resources are a component of talent mobility, and can help employees better understand the skills they need to strengthen or acquire based on their career development goals and the needs of the organization.

Benefits of an effective career mobility program include:

  • Creating more satisfied employees
  • Nurturing top talent, identifying/promoting future leaders
  • Providing meaningful growth and development
  • Developing a five-star employee experience
  • Driving engagement, retention, and productivity

Step 2: Avoid the Pitfalls of a Poor Talent Experience

For prospective and current employees, candidate experience affects the perception of the company. In the survey, 77 percent of employers rated their company’s experience as very good or excellent, while 84 percent of working professionals have had a bad experience while looking for a job.

Prospects and employers, alike, consider the company website, LinkedIn, job boards (e.g., Glassdoor, Indeed) and Facebook among their top five most trusted channels for learning about an organization during a job search. Candidates listed “talking with current employees” in their top five, while employers listed “advertising” as a trustworthy source for conveying employer brand.

According to the survey, 54 percent of employers are spending more this year on employer branding. Recommendations from that study include investing in the channels that candidates are using to learn about your company, providing the best tools to help employees succeed, and communicating your use of technology to future talent—20 percent say their “ideal employer” uses the latest technology.

Insights for HR:

Strengthening your employer brand begins with improving talent experiences at every stage of their employment.

Related content: Building an Employee-First Culture

Doing right by your employees will bolster your social media profiles and extend your investments in LinkedIn, Facebook, Glassdoor, Indeed, and other external sites. Providing opportunities for career development, redeployment alternatives, internal gig projects, cross-functional dedicated project teams, lifelong learning, creative retirement, and transition resources to employees during a restructuring or reduction in force, helps organizations build a reputation as an employer of choice from the inside out. These efforts will naturally reflect outwardly, generating praise from current and former employees in social media and face-to-face conversations.

Step 3: Engage job seekers with the right combination of tech and human touch

The right balance of technology and positive human interaction is essential to engaging job seekers, according to the survey. The continued popularity of mobile device usage will continue to influence job search behaviors and expectations.

Job candidates search and apply for jobs primarily via mobile apps and LinkedIn (about 25 percent each), according to the survey. Ease of use is the reason. Talent leaders have responded by using a variety of technologies to enhance recruitment outcomes. These include AI-powered chatbots, CRM and ATS systems that optimize mobile, recruitment marketing platforms, and social engagement platforms. For organizations, the technologies that have the greatest positive impact on the recruitment and talent experience are HR and talent analytics tools (35 percent).

What’s most interesting is that for working professionals, it’s the human touch that seems to have the most impact once they’ve applied.

The following five areas were identified with equal importance among job candidates:

  1. Transparency about the role
  2. Feedback on why they were or were not selected
  3. An expedient process
  4. Communication about progress
  5. The ability to address questions

The survey also noted that 36 percent of working professionals say a constructive interview creates a positive candidate experience—more than any other tool.

Insights for HR:

The story remains the same along all points in the employee life cycle. Whether your organization is recruiting, hiring, engaging in career development, redeploying, or transitioning employees out of the company, the right blend of tech and human touch is critical. The approach should always be human-centered and tech enabled. Partner with third party vendors who embrace this concept and provide products and services that put people at the center of their solutions.

Step 4: Reskill your workforce to get fit for the future

Investing in recruiting the best talent requires engaging current employees. Reskilling and upskilling are top of mind in HR as talent leaders steer into a future that will require them to train people for jobs that are still on the horizon or not yet defined. Given the digitalization of the workplace—and the human and organizational agility that will be required in the near future—employers believe their workers must possess basic digital and technical competencies. The survey found that 18 percent of employers wish they could invest more in reskilling their employees, which was surpassed only by investing in a total talent management model (25 percent) and technology to improve the client experience (19 percent).

On the employee side, reskilling carries tremendous importance, with two-thirds reporting they will seek training on their own to maintain or advance their careers, and the same percentage agreeing that employer-provided training closely adheres to their personal desires. The type of training desired is no surprise: 43 percent seek to improve their technical skills and 41 percent want soft skills training, which has been identified as a major force in retaining competitive advantage.

Insights for HR:   

Yogi Berra once said, “If you do not know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” Before your employees reskill, it would be wise to explore the bigger picture of what’s happening in your industry, assess the skills required, and find the overlap between you’re your employees desire and what the business requires.

Related content: How to Move Your Talent Development Strategy to the Fast Lane

Career development coaching and resources can help employees identify the skills needed to increase their performance based on their career goals. This, in turn, will strengthen retention and boost engagement, ensure that reskilling aligns wants with needs, and optimizes investments in training.

Step 5: Harness diverse perspectives to provide an inclusive workplace

Companies continue to struggle with diversity, particularly within leadership teams. A majority of business leaders (86 percent) and working professionals (72 percent) view inclusion as critical to the workplace environment. Where employers and employees differ is whether or not diversity is personally beneficial. For example, 58 percent of leaders say a more inclusive perspective—one that incorporates a variety of voices—accelerates work, whereas 42 percent of employees feel a diversity and inclusion policy helps with organizational growth. A diverse workplace has a positive effect on employee culture, with 44 percent of working professionals saying such an environment makes them feel like their company is focused on people.

Insights for HR

Attracting workers from a variety of backgrounds and experiences is not only socially desirable and the right thing to do, but also a factor in business performance. Employees “understand that diversity of thought and ideas, a culture of inclusion, and equal opportunity for advancement benefit both their companies as well as their own development and careers,” says Audra Jenkins, Randstad US chief diversity and inclusion officer.

Developing a talent mobility mindset and culture requires total inclusiveness and will lead to higher levels of engagement and productivity—while also projecting a positive employer brand.

Step 6: Manage the risks of AI and automation to create opportunities

Despite the uncertainties posed by technology advancements, most working professionals view AI and automation as empowering for work, but problematic for future jobs searches. About 60 percent of employees believe AI will help with productivity and efficiency, as well as create a more positive work experience. When it comes to job search, however, 56 percent expect their experience to be less personal and 44 percent are worried they may lose future jobs to AI.

Employers tend to be much more enthusiastic overall, with about 80 percent believing that AI will expand opportunities for employees. Nonetheless, about two-thirds of talent leaders are concerned about the impact of AI on job loss and how technology may render the recruitment process impersonal.

Insights for HR:

To retain loyal employees, build a roadmap that aligns skills with evolving business needs—especially digital competencies as transformation accelerates. To make wise investments in training, think first about career development. Include in your roadmap a plan for helping employees think through their career development aspirations. This will enable the organization and employees to align around shared goals and needs, including your employees’ desired sense of autonomy. People seek meaningful careers. Helping them find a path requires a human-centric experience that is made seamless thanks to technology.

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