How to Win the War for Talent

How to Win the War for Talent


It is widely reported that there is a new war for talent, as well as an overall skills shortage – from train guards and nurses to aeronautical engineers, construction workers, and general technical experts across many functions and industry sectors.  According to the ONS there has actually been an increase in the number of full-time employees, but a decrease in part-time and self-employed work, which in part accounts for UK unemployment rising at the fastest rate in almost five years.  However, employment is still over 30 million and at the highest level for decades with many key vacancies remaining unfilled.

With ongoing major change in the work place – from globalization, consumerism and galloping advances in technology – leaders and managers need to find innovative ways to be more flexible and agile in order to deliver the business results.  Sourcing, developing and keeping top talent has become even more important to business success and ever more challenging in Brexit-obsessed Britain.

So how can your organization win the current war for talent?  Here are 10 recommendations:

  1. Look at your internal talent before advertising externally

If your line managers are holding regular 1:1s and having frequent career conversations, they should be able to identify internal candidates who could step up.

  1. Invest in a robust Talent Management Process

Use effective Talent Assessment, which can be based on business results, projects, 360 FeedbackCompetency and Situational Based Questioning and Leadership and Management Competencies to identify key strengths and development areas.  This objective process will evaluate an individual’s performance in their current role and their potential to grow into more senior management or leadership roles.  The nine box talent grid is still highly effective and works well for Succession Planning.

  1. Always conduct an Exit Interview when a team member resigns

You can then establish if the resignation was due to personal circumstances, or down to one of the most common reasons individuals move on, such as low salary, boring work, problems with their boss, not being challenged or promoted, or simply being over-worked.  Then address these key issues and review your employer brand:  What does it say about your organization, its’ people, culture, aims and values?  Successful companies align a clear and well-communicated vision, strategy and values with associated competencies, skills and behaviours as a solid base for recruitment, learning and development and performance management.

  1. Re-visit your recruitment and selection strategy to avoid the poor hires.

Examine your job descriptions, salary, struture and interviewing process.  Traditional JDs are becoming somewhat defunct in the increasingly complex and fast-moving workplace and gig economy, so you may need to be more innovative.  AI is already being used by some organizations to write job descriptions, which are more appealing to men or women; for example, an Amercian company called Textio has developed software to write gender specific adverts and speed up the recruitment process; their platform has been used successfully by Vodafone to fill vacancies 17% more swiftly and hire 7% more female workers.

  1. Don’t try to emulate or compete with the bigger brands in your vicinity if you haven’t got the budget

Be more creative, like many start ups in Dublin, which are benefiting from opportunities offered to them by some of the tech giants, who ask local start-ups to pitch their ideas on a regular basis.

  1. Invest in professional Assessment Methods and Assessment Centres to obtain ROI of up to five fold

With up to 80% of hires now being sourced through social media and referrals, the temptation is to recruit swiftly as specialist roles often stay vacant for 3 – 6 months.  However, fast-tracking applicants can have a dire financial impact on the organization if pre-screening candidates, using assessment methods, and references are not  utilised.  Top talent expects a robust assessment and selection process.

  1. Don’t just target Millennials

The target for recruitment adverts is often the Millennials as they are set to constitute over 50% of the workforce after 2020.  However,  with the press advising that we may all need to work in to our 70s, targeting the retiring Baby Boomers is already proving lucrative in the US.  Millennials tend to move on after 3 years, whereas older workers are apparently more likely to be loyal, autonomous and less family-centric.

  1. Ensure your Company Culture rewards discretionary effort

Increasingly global organizations are investing in more initiatives in order to attract employees to work in their offices, as they try to compete with the allure of remote, flexible and home working.  Top talent is likely to join a company, not for the number of games machines it has, but for its dynamic, innovative and caring culture, where employees feel valued, poor performance is dealt with quickly, and where there are opportunities for challenging work, progression, and open, honest and lively debate with like-minded team members.

  1. Offer regular, tailored Learning and Development

According to Gallup, only 1 in 10 managers has the natural talent to be a great manager so ensure you offer regular Management and Leadership Training, and Coaching and MentoringTraining should also involve adhering to the company values, reputation management and overcoming unconscious bias, in order to avoid spectacular falls from grace, as witnessed recently with some of the British charities.

  1. Offer creative and attractive Comp and Benefits packages                                                    These may include an array of options from the following: a sign on bonus, relocation expenses, competitive salary, discretionary bonus and performance related team/individual bonus, incentive schemes, occupational sick pay, car allowance/company car, Smartphone, private health and medical insurance, dental cover, pension, access to social media, flexible benefits, enhanced maternity/adoption/paternity pay, gym membership, free fruit, eye tests, flu jab, health screening, sabbaticals, EAP, creche, discounted online shopping/gift vouchers, loyalty cards.

Next time we’ll look at how to retain talent.

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