Wednesday 10 May 2017

The Talent Crisis – What is a Business to Do?

Posted by at 12:29 PM

The words “talent crisis” definitely evoke meaning – five or ten years ago no one would know what you meant if you put those two words together, but today many businesses say this is the number-one challenge they face. 

In fact, the lack of available talent in some industries is literally prohibiting businesses from growing.  How can a business address this crisis?  There are some things to consider.

Be an attractive organization

Simply stated, be a company that people want to work for.  That can mean different things to different businesses and people, but understand what makes the people you are interested in recruiting tick, see how that matches up to your company, and let that part of your business shine.

Is your company perceived as innovative?  Is there longevity among your employees?  Does your company care about its community and environment?  These are just some of the things that people today are interested in.  Do some soul-searching in your company on this topic, and see where you can make improvements.

Retain your employees

Keeping the employees you have is perhaps the easiest way to limit your exposure to the talent crisis.  It has been my experience that the thing our employees value most are the core values and culture of our company.  Not only do we print our core values on paper but we live them.  We talk about them daily, and they are ingrained in our DNA.   

Value your employees.  Our employees know they are the heart beat and life blood of our company.  We empower and trust them to do the jobs we have hired them to do.  We invest in them with training and run towards industry advancements rather than run away.  Employees that truly love to come to work for your company can be your best defense against the talent crisis.

Look inside your company

Even if your retention rate is stellar, if you are growing you will still need to hire people.  One of the most effective ways to hire great people is to look to your great employees for referrals.  Good people know good people, so establish an employee referral program that rewards current employees for making referrals that turn into filled jobs.   

It is also important to know if your salary and benefit offerings are in line with your marketplace.  It is worth doing market and job comparison studies to know where you land and then make adjustments where necessary. 

Develop your people

Some of the hardest and trickiest positions to fill are entry and mid-level management.  Too often companies promote their top non-management employees into leadership roles only to find they are not wired for those roles.  Those heartaches can be avoided by using assessments to identify employee’s strengths and then developing the right employees for leadership roles. 

Promoting from within is always an excellent strategy, but positioning those people for success in the new role by specifically developing the necessary skills will go a long way to ensure their and your success.

Look outside to your community

The educational institutions in your community can be a great ally in developing a talent pool.  For example, colleges and technical colleges could be a partner in developing specific curriculum to produce graduates ready for open technical jobs.  These institutions are also a good source for interns.  My company has had very good luck in having interns turn into full-time employees upon graduation.    

In some communities working with K-12 education has produced programs intended to generate interest among young people in staying and working in their communities after graduation.  Additionally, Chamber of Commerce organizations and many youth-focused non-profits are getting very active in cultivating a talent pool across many industrial sectors of their communities.  It is a good idea for business leaders to become active in such efforts.

Why now

So what is so different about this time now than before when there wasn’t such a competitive hiring environment?  I believe it has to do with mobility – people and jobs are more mobile than ever before. 

There was a time in my company when we had a stack of applicants we kept on file.  People weren’t as mobile as they are now and stayed in the towns they were raised in.  People knew our company, valued working for an employer through retirement, and wanted to work for us.  They literally “knocked on our door.”    

Now it is common for many young people to attend college and do that away from home.  And once they leave most often they aren’t interested in coming back.  People are physically scattered and aren’t “knocking on our door” like they used to.

The rise in technical positions in all businesses makes recruiting and hiring these people a competitive and challenging endeavor.  My company probably fares better in our recruiting efforts because we really pay attention to the points I have shared above.  Still, the talent crisis is a big challenge and one that we will face well into the future.