Thinking Differently About Talent

Written by: Matt Alder
Published on: 24 May 2017

The recruitment and retention of the best talent is a growing issue for many companies. Skill shortages are increasing in a number of sectors and the pace of change, driven by key business trends such as digital transformation, means that many companies are hiring for roles that have never had to fill before.

To complicate matters further, the expectations of potential hires are increasing as they demand more transparency in the recruitment process and gravitate towards those companies which understand that offering a compelling employee experience provides a competitive advantage in a difficult marketplace.

A new book, called “Exceptional Talent”, argues that the way for employers to face these challenges is to look at the process of attracting, hiring and engaging talent as an ongoing “talent journey”. This new talent journey has six key stages:

Attention - How companies stand out from a cacophony of digital noise and distraction to connect and build employer brand awareness with the talent they need.

Attraction –Recruitment marketing activity that drives interest into working for the business and then converts this interest into applications

Acquisition – An effective interview and selection process that eliminates bias and focuses on assessing the skills, capability and potential the business needs

On-boarding - Seamless integration of new hires into the business and its culture, with expectations set, and regular feedback given

Development – How the business supports employees in their development, sets goals, reviews performance and offers career opportunities

Retention – Creating a compelling employee experience in order to be a place where people want to work and to ensure that they become advocates for the business.

Historically, these were a series of separate events that HR organised for people at set times, but we now see them as one ongoing journey with each stage blending in with the next. For example, on-boarding now starts during the interview phase and people arrive on their first day with all formalities completed and a full understanding of the role, deliverables and their support network. Reviews aren’t done at the end of a probationary period but instead managers check-in on a regular basis to see how new hires are settling in and progressing, and these check-ins then continue into a different, more real-time approach to performance management.

The journey technically has no end, because when someone leaves, assuming they have been exited well, there is still potential for an ongoing relationship as they remain an advocate for the business, potentially referring in customers, clients or new employees. They could even return in some capacity in the future. The talent journey is effectively attention to retention and beyond.

After many years of specialisation, recruitment and HR departments have become siloed in their approach to the talent lifecycle, meaning change for many will be difficult. However with so much at stake this is a challenge they must overcome if they are attract and retain exceptional talent for their companies.

Matt Alder

Matt Alder is a talent acquisition consultant.  “Exceptional Talent” was published by Kogan Page in May 2017. More details available here.