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Why companies should consider talent management as a competitive advantage

There is a restaurant sign that has recently gone viral and is adopted by more and more businesses. It read “Please be nice to the employees, they are a lot harder to find than customers”. Apart from its obvious humor, there is a lot of truth in it as well.

It’s getting increasingly difficult to find people to hire. It’s even more challenging to find people that fit perfectly into the job. Here are the main figures of a report created by Indeed on employer outlook:

  • 61% of businesses expect to hire more in 2018 than they did last year
  • 42% worry they won’t be able to find the talent they need
  • 33% of companies are concerned about hiring middle management
  • 25% report challenges with senior management and
  • 20% pointed to executive level positions as their most difficult hires.

This being the case, companies have to figure out ways to stay competitive as employers. A good talent management has the capacity to provide the kind of competitive advantage required to attract and retain the right people.

Human capital is the most important asset of a company

It all starts with the acknowledgement that human capital is the most important in an organization. Employees bring their knowledge, expertise and their personal goals to the table. All these have a bearing in whether the business will be successful or not.

Offering good pay, benefits, flexible hours, a pleasant work environment are all important regardless of the generation the workers are part of. Baby boomers stay loyal as long as they feel their position in the company is secure and they can provide for their families, while Millennials seek autonomy and challenge.

Feeling secure is not as important to them, they prefer the opportunity to constantly move towards more complex and demanding jobs. They want to work for companies where they know they can move up to more complicated positions. If they feel stuck, they leave and HR departments face more and more often the difficult task of replacing top performers who decide to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Talent management ensures that the needs and aspirations of these top performers are met within the organisation.

Talent management starts with the hiring interview

The starting point of a good talent management program is recruitment. Hiring competent and motivated employees who are right for the company and resonate with its culture is the key to success. It’s not about employing a person to do a job but about finding the individual who is most likely to perform and stick it out when things become difficult.

An effective way to make sure that new-hires will be what the organisation needs them to be is to create job descriptions based on the already existing top performers. Drawing-up the portrait of the ideal candidate for a certain position based on experience ensures that the new employee has the best chances to succeed. This doesn’t mean that HR professionals should built a restrictive mold but rather have some guidelines when beginning to seek for the right person to fill a position.

Another very important aspect is not having the organization’s core values in mind. Skills and competencies matter but not as much as personal beliefs and goals – these are the ones that generate engagement.

Existing employees need attention and nurture

Existing employees are just as important (if not more so) than newly hired ones. It’s a common mistake of organisations to take their existing staff for granted. Failing to know what their expectations and career goals are will lead to poor performance and big turnover rates.

Managers should take the time to have one on one meetings with their team members in order to find what they feel about their own development. Starting from there, they can figure out a career path.

Having a clear image of both existing competencies and future goals allows companies to sustain a highly skilled internal talent pool. It’s a lot easier to fill a position internally than recruiting from outside the organisation. A person who is already familiar with the company culture and has put in some time and effort towards it is more likely to feel engaged and succeed.

Constantly offering opportunities to existing employees is a good practice for retaining top-performing Millennial employees.

Learning should be constantly available and adaptable

Career mobility means more than moving up. People want to diversify their skills and often look for opportunities to move to jobs that are not necessarily a continuation of the ones they started in.

Read more: How HR and L&D departments can stay on top of career mobility

It’s also good for the organisation to have people shift from one department to another as they come with a fresh approach and a different set of skills. However, in order for people to master the skills they need for various positions, it is important to be provided with continuous learning opportunities.

Having a large and varied e-learning library, accessible to everyone on a number of devices is paramount to achieving efficient mobility within the company. People need to feel encouraged to learn and grow.

Employees who show the greatest potential can even be offered more complex, formal educational opportunities such as MA or MBA programs. These may be more costly but the results in competency growth and employee engagement will surely be worth it.

Closing thoughts

It’s challenging to find talented people and even more so to keep. Developing a comprehensive talent management program and adapting it to the ever changing needs and demands of the workforce is the only way to go in today’s business world.

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