Winning the War for Talent

Group of People In Dress Suits

To create and maintain a high-performing company, it’s imperative to get the right people at the top. But it’s a tight market for top talent – especially senior leaders. How do you attract and retain the best?

  1. Prioritize Employee Growth

At their core, people want to make a difference – and they want to work for a company that feels the same. To be their best and have the greatest impact, they know they need to continuously develop, explore new ideas, learn new skills, and grow as a person and a leader. They want a company that is committed to investing in their future.

Companies that attract and retain top-performing candidates have processes and initiatives in place that support professional development, growth, and fulfillment. With that in mind, what steps can you take?

  • Reprioritize Professional Development

When the pandemic hit, most companies cut back on professional development efforts. As the crisis continues to subside, the need to provide opportunities for learning and growth is increasing. Professional and personal fulfillment is near the top of the list for job searchers. They are prioritizing their health and wellbeing, and 80% see career growth as a major contributor to their overall satisfaction.

Current quit rates may show that companies are failing to provide the growth opportunities the talent market demands. The retail sector is experiencing the highest rates, but the professional and business services industries are also experiencing significant rates. Microsoft found that as many as 41% of their employees were considering leaving their job or switching professions this year. Investment in employee growth results in a more satisfied and loyal workforce, helping them feel they can expand their skills and succeed within a company.

  • Emphasize Growth Tracks and Develop the People at the Top

Identifying the competencies of top leaders and putting them in roles where they can be most successful can amplify their satisfaction and loyalty. To do this, first pinpoint the skills and more importantly, the behaviors needed to be successful in your company, then break that down for each role and growth track. Follow this with 360° evaluations that identify skill and behavioral gaps and blind spots. Provide developmental coaching and skills training to fill in these gaps. On a continuous basis, clearly developing your senior team’s competencies, as well as those of up-and-coming employees who show potential for higher leadership, will pay dividends to your company’s growth and help retain a top talent bench.

  1. Create a Standout Recruitment Process

70% of workers report that they’ll stay with a company for more than three years if their application experience was a positive one. With a tight labor market, job seekers get to choose among many companies vying for their attention. They are more likely to apply to those that create and promote a good experience during the application and interview processes. And they are more likely to recommend the company to their contacts.

About 34% of HR recruiters (twice as many as last year) say they plan to decrease their budgets. The danger is that companies could fall back on old, less-effective hiring tactics in a time when it’s critical to improve their processes. In this difficult situation, it’s important to make every action count and to focus on what is most effective, such as the following:

  • Have an “always looking for talent” mindset, rather than a “replacing departures” approach. Starting from a positive place positions a company to create a positive experience.
  • Respond quickly. Fast turnaround time makes applicants feel valued—even if they don’t get the job.
  • Promote your application and hiring process on LinkedIn and other outreach channels. Describe how the process ensures a good experience for applicants. The expectation of a positive experience makes potential applicants more apt to spend time applying and makes your company more appealing from the outset.
  • Hire to the Culture You Want to Build

In the job market, companies are known for the cultures they create. When they clearly define their vision, they can hire strategically to support that aspiration. This helps focus hiring efforts, attracts the best-fit candidates, and can improve overall company performance. In a Deloitte survey, 79% of respondents said that a sense of belonging in the workforce was important to their organization’s success over the following 12–18 months. 93% felt that a sense of belonging drives organizational performance. Additionally, a 2019 Deloitte study indicated that a feeling of belonging at work can improve job performance by 56%, reduce turnover risk by 50%, and decrease sick days by 75%. How do you create an outstanding company culture?

  • Prioritize DEI
    Diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical aspects of creating a culture of belonging that will attract top candidates. Companies that prioritize DEI foster workplaces in which every individual feels respected and treated fairly, regardless of their racial or ethnic identities. The promise of safety, respect, equitable pay, and opportunity for all will promote the cause of justice, bring in a diversity of candidates, and tap into a talent pool that has been historically undervalued. Incorporating different perspectives also fosters innovation, and research shows that within an inclusive environment, 83% of millennials are found to be actively engaged in their work.
  • Ask Better Questions

To determine whether a candidate is capable of contributing positively to the kind of culture you want to create, ask questions about how they learn. This can help those doing the hiring understand their potential for growth and ability to contribute to the company’s aspirations for their culture. Return to this issue throughout the hiring process to get a full picture of the candidate’s potential to grow beyond their current capabilities.

  • Look in the Right Places
    Tap into either company alumni associations or past employees who left on good terms to find potential applicants. Many companies have large alumni associations that current employees are enrolled in. (Booz Allen Hamilton is perhaps the best-in-class at this). Upon departure, they become great ambassadors for the company, and can then be tapped to see if there is now a role of interest to them. Use LinkedIn to set up these connections.

In the current job landscape, hiring and retaining high-performing employees is a genuine challenge. But if you put your focus in the right places, your hiring efforts will be more efficient, and you’ll be rewarded with top-notch employees who are loyal and active contributors to company success.

About the Author: Karen Brown, Founder and CEO of Velocity Leadership Consulting.

Drawing on 30 years of success as a corporate executive, over 30,000 hours of senior executive coaching experience, and certification as a Master Neurolinguistics Programming Practitioner, Karen Brown understands the complex challenges CEOs and their senior teams face. A thought leader in leadership and professional performance, Karen leads expert coaches who use the scientific Velocity Power Pathway™ process to elevate the performance and impact of senior executives.

About Velocity’s Leadership Development Program

Velocity’s Leadership Development Program includes behavioral assessments (leaders’ actual behavior and how they are experienced by others), online skill education, team dynamic work, team project alignment and tracking, one-on-one coaching, accountability tools, and use of leadership competencies for role and performance management. Developing leaders simultaneously through this program guarantees the ability to move forward and achieve initiatives. It will also enable early recognition of leaders that may be falling behind, and the opportunity to quickly adjust to keep leadership teams on track.