Seeking Talent, One Employee at a Time

Today’s workers want more from their jobs than just money to pay the bills. A new report from Execu|Search Group shows employers how to engage their talent at every step of the employment life cycle.

January 18, 2018 –  These are better days for jobs in America. Hiring is up. And the unemployment rate remains at a stellar 4.1 percent. That’s good news all the way around. For employers, however, many challenges remain: Competition for talent is high. Finding individuals with the right skills remains tough. Transitioning to a Millennial workforce can be a puzzle. And it’s never easy to stay on top of the trends that affect one’s industry.

As a result, employers must double their efforts to keep talent engaged at every stage of the employment life cycle, from hiring and onboarding to succession planning, according to a new report by Execu|Search Group, “2018 Hiring Outlook: The Impact of the Growing Skills Shortage On the Employer-Employee Relationship.”

Today, professionals still care about compensation and traditional benefits, but they expect their work to provide personal fulfillment and meaning. If they dislike what they are doing, cannot see their impact, are not learning new skills or feel undervalued by their employer, they will move on.

“In search of purpose, personalization, and professional development, today’s professionals are changing the way they look at their careers,” said Edward Fleischman, chairman and CEO of Execu|Search Group. “Employers who do not adapt to this new relationship risk missing out on top talent and losing their best employees.”

An Evolving Relationship

To help employers navigate the evolving employer-employee relationship, the report offers insights and recommendations for engaging with talent in today’s market.

Of central concern, of course, is the skills shortage, which can affect a company’s ability to grow. Indeed, the problem takes many forms: “On one hand, it could be a generational shift where Baby Boomers are retiring and taking their skills out of the workforce,” said the report. “In another case, it could be the significant creation of new jobs; jobs that demand an entirely new set of skills.”

One of four employers have failed to make an effort to address the skills shortage at their company, according to the report, which in the end is a formula for trouble. By not facing the issue, the skills gap will only worsen. So it is that employers must redefine their definition of talent and rethink some of their hiring strategies to adapt to this candidate-driven market, said Execu|Search.

“Rather than seeking professionals who check off a list of pre-set expectations, employers should be open to investing in training to help new staff and current employees develop the skills needed for success in their roles,” said the report.

Related: Failure to Develop, Engage and Retain Talent Is Growing

To combat the skills shortage through the hiring process, the Execu|Search Group suggested a multi-pronged approach:

  • Hire for Potential – Many organizations make the mistake of overlooking applicants who do not possess the “required” experience and set of industry-specific skills,” said the report. “Instead, keep an open mind about professionals who possess the personal attributes as well as the transferable skills that will allow them to be successful in the role.”
  • Be Open to Temporary Employees – Last year, only 28 percent of employers planned to increase their hiring of temporary staff, the study found. In 2018, the number rose to 36 percent. “Allowing a position to go unfilled due to a lack of candidates can lead to lost profits and over-worked employees,” said the report. “This is where a temporary employee, contractor, or consultant can step in. Armed with the industry skills and experience needed to hit the ground running, they can be especially valuable during periods of high demand, project implementations, or to cover positions that will eventually be filled with full-time employees.”

Engaging Employees

Perhaps the best way to get the most out of an employee is to make sure they are engaged in their respective jobs. Employee engagement forms the foundation of many talent acquisition leaders’ approach to human capital. Engagement binds employees to an organization’s core values and its purpose. And it is engagement that puts people first, front and center, as an integral part of corporate business strategy ….. Here’s some further reading from Hunt Scanlon Media.

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  • Facilitate a Positive Candidate Experience – A positive candidate experience starts with an employer portraying a strong brand, said the report. A company’s digital presence matters a great deal. Whatever the platform, an enterprise’s online presentation can help to build a connection with a prospective hire and help them learn more about the group, what it does and why it’s a good place to work.

Beyond the brand, the Execu|Search Group also recommended that employers emphasize their company’s culture by providing prospects with an authentic, well-rounded view of what it’s like to work for the organization, said the report. Making faster, more competitive offers also goes a long way in boosting a candidate’s impressions of an organization.

Related: Why Business Leaders Haven’t Come Around to Employee Engagement

But the challenge of engaging employees runs even deeper. The Execu|Search report also encouraged employers to redefine job security for their workers, starting with the company’s perception of professional development. “While it has traditionally come in the form of a promotion and/or raise, this isn’t always a possibility for every employee who deserves it,” said the report. “Considering the finding that 51 percent of working professionals do not even understand what they need to accomplish in order to earn a promotion, this trend is becoming increasingly common.”

“By taking a professional’s desire for skills development into account, there are other ways to offer your staff meaningful professional development opportunities. This investment in your employees’ careers will soon become a business necessity. Reskilling your staff for future opportunities will not only help the company remain agile in times of change, but also entice top performers to stay with the organization and attract future talent.”

Some of the keys for employers to offer their employees greater career security, according to Execu|Search, include:

  • Provide Strong Initial Training – More than half of the Millennials who responded to Execu|Search’s survey said they felt their manager provided them with insufficient training and resources when they started their current position. “Since first impressions often become lasting ones, employers, too, must ensure an employee’s initial weeks and months at the company set them up for success,” said the report. “This is a practice that many are not following – much to their detriment.”

Related: Employee Engagement Must Run Deep to Thrive

  • Offer Continuous Skills Development – Employees who are given consistent training and development opportunities are not only happier in their roles, but have a brighter outlook on their future with the company. To effectively help employees visualize their path towards career advancement, however, employers need to give their staff tangible opportunities to gain new responsibilities, expand their skillsets, and make an impact on the company.
  • Implement Succession Planning and Leadership Development Initiatives – Creating an environment that gives employees a clear path to leadership positions is also a great way to motivate them to work harder and stay with the organization for the long haul, said the report. For organizations that want to orchestrate a smooth transition into a millennial-dominated workforce, these efforts will only become more important in the years ahead.

In addition to providing training and support for professional development, it is also crucial that employers facilitate an environment where employees can learn from each other. Too often, employers fall short in providing meaningful opportunities for their staff, many of whom are seeking a collaborative environment.

Yahoo! HR Leader Examines the ‘Gravitational Pull’ of Employee Engagement
Employee engagement forms the foundation of many talent acquisition leaders’ approach to human capital. Engagement binds employees to an organization’s core values and its purpose. 

The Execu|Search Group offered the following suggestions to help employers improve company culture:

  • Participate in the Culture – When leadership doesn’t participate in the company’s culture, it tells other employees that participating is not important. This means that leadership should be present at company events, be excited about new initiatives, and live by the company’s mission and values.
  • Ask for Feedback – A two-way line of communication is crucial – employees must know that their opinions are heard and valued by management.
  • Be Transparent – When making decisions, be sure to keep your employees in the loop and explain your decisions. This not only keeps everyone on the same page, but it allows for discussion and learning opportunities for everyone.

Related: Why Talent Engagement Is More Important Than Ever

  • Encourage other Leaders – One leader within an organization cannot change the culture alone – it requires a concerted effort from everyone for the positive culture to ripple throughout the organization.

To engage with talent, the role of wellness in the workplace, meanwhile, should not be overlooked. An employee who is not physically or mentally well is not doing their best work. While employers have long promoted physical health through gym incentives or healthy eating, mental health has risen to prominence in recent years as well.

“To truly value the well-being of employees, companies must practice increased flexibility when a professional has specific needs,” said the report. “To do so, this also means placing more trust in your employees to finish their work and do the right thing. Offering employees the option to work remotely is a simple and effective way to show that their employer cares about their life and well-being…. When employees are denied their ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance, they will not hesitate to find an opportunity where they feel more valued.”

The Execu|Search Group provided the following suggestions for employers to promote health and flexibility in the workplace:

  • Lead by Example – For employers who are implementing new initiatives, leadership participation shows others that it’s okay to take care of yourself. If a manager, for example, starts a lunch-hour walking group, he or she should attend the walk regularly and encourage others to join. This shows employees that it is okay to take a break to focus on their health.
  • Talk about Mental Health – While this may feel daunting, beginning to place emphasis on mental health can start with a simple conversation. By being open about mental health, employees will learn that their well-being is valued, and they’ll take more steps to keep a healthy state of mind when they know that they’re supported.
  • Implement Incentives – Some wellness initiatives are implemented with a penalty for not participating instead of encouraging participation with an incentive. To be sure that employees don’t feel that their wellness is a chore, offer rewards for employees who are engaged in wellness programs.

Related: Failure to Develop, Engage and Retain Talent Is Growing

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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