Talk to any recruiter, talent leader, or CEO, and you’ll hear the same thing: There’s a shortage of talent. There are many reasons for this shortage. To name a few, unemployment is the lowest it’s been in almost 50 years in the United States, people are no longer confined to a specific location or industry in their job search, and smart, talented people are choosing to go it alone in what’s often referred to as the “gig economy.”
This all makes competing for the best people increasingly harder than before. So, what does this mean for talent leaders, who are charged with attracting and retaining top talent?
It means that companies — and talent leaders in particular — need to think and act more strategically than ever before about the employee experience. To do this, organizations are dedicating resources to create and implement compelling Employee Value Propositions, and taking time to be more communicative about their commitment to their purpose and values. They also are investing more in learning and training, being more intentional about career paths, and shifting their focus from performance management to performance development.
Here’s what we’re hearing from talent leaders on how to create workplaces where employees can learn, grow, and thrive:
Align your talent work to your business goals and strategies.
Hiring doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Company culture, business strategy, values, and behaviors should all align — and be a key driver of the talent acquisition process. When HR programs and policies align to your culture, you are sending a clear message to prospective candidates, new hires, and current employees about company values, ways of working, mindsets, and behaviors that are critical to success.
Provide opportunities for hands-on learning.
Development happens every day, but often goes unnoticed because it’s embedded in the “work” employees are already doing. Make sure you offer employees tangible ways to keep growing their skills. This might be traditional learning and development methods (i.e., conferences, workshops, training) — or it might include stretch assignments, opportunities for job shadowing, and even rotational programs or assignments. These more hands-on methods are where the real learning happens.
Use storytelling to highlight career paths and opportunities.
Companies are increasingly looking for employees with a breadth of experience and skills. So it’s important to identify how employees might be able to grow and develop internally. One of the best ways is to do this is through storytelling — spotlight employees who have followed non-traditional career paths and employees who have taken advantage of internal opportunities to learn, grow, and advance their career.
Create a culture of regular feedback.
Cultures where people feel safe asking for and giving feedback, where coaching is the norm, and where managers focus on the whole person, not just the career development, enable employees to do — and want to do — their best work.
Help managers be better equipped.
Don’t presume that managers are automatically equipped with the skills necessary to grow and develop their people. Organizational performance requires meaningful ongoing conversation between managers and employees, and actively investing in people by coaching them regularly and providing them with ongoing feedback. This bottoms-up and top-down approach requires real commitment from senior leaders to “walk the talk” to get employees to lean in and be deeply involved.
High-performing companies require high-performing employees. It’s everyone’s responsibility — senior leaders, talent leaders, hiring managers, and the employees themselves — to make sure that employees continue to grow, deliver their best work, and are rewarded for their efforts.