People leave jobs and move onto new opportunities. It happens all the time – it’s called a career ‘path’ for a reason. Chances are, many of your current employees are thinking about their next role right now. The problem employers face is finding and attracting top talent to fill vacant roles. This challenge isn’t new, but it is exacerbated by today’s talent scarce job market and the impact this is having on talent acquisition and retention.

How did we get here? It’s been a combination of factors that has led to a reduction in available labour. In order to get the people they need to run their business, companies are becoming more competitive, creative and in some cases ruthless in order to have an edge in attracting and retaining talent. Even for those employees who only occasionally think about switching jobs, there is a lot of opportunity out there at the moment, and this can be very enticing.

So, what to do? Our advice for creating a winning talent strategy is based around leveraging your employer brand – your company’s reputation as an employer of choice – to attract, motivate, grow and retain talent. We’re working on the assumption that your company has a fit for purpose business model and strategy, and operationally has the right processes and structure to deliver results. Here’s our take on what business and HR leaders should be focussing on.

Why are they leaving?

This question is absolutely fundamental to your talent strategy. None of the levers mentioned below will produce long term results if you don’t fully understand why employees are leaving in the first place. If you’re seeing patterns emerging or reasons for leaving that are within your control – like poor job satisfaction and pay, limited career opportunities, poor workplace culture, unfulfilling employee experience – then it is definitely time to take meaningful action.

It’s not just about uncovering “what’s wrong” with your business that is causing employees to leave. Chances are, your people are probably not running from you but rather taking advantage of attractive opportunities present in the job market. Gaining a better understanding of what’s important to your people and what drivers can motivate them to take on a new role, can be incredibly valuable. The reality is that today’s employees are expecting more from their job, and employers need to respond and make some big changes to how they value their people.

Why are they staying?

Not too dissimilar from above, what’s causing satisfied employees to stay? The typical approach is to consider these employees to be ‘safe’ with no threat that they are likely to leave. In fact, the opposite is true. Happy employees and in particular hard-to-source talent need to be a priority. We’ve blogged about stay interviews previously, as a tool for understanding what motivates your team and what improvements could be made.

It’s a common complaint within a business that management are not listening to their people nearly enough. Smart businesses involve their people in shaping planning and solutions. Again, the key here is action. Armed with this valuable information, how can you improve your work environment in order to retain great employees?

Create a magnetic workplace

We’re seeing a dramatic change in the way businesses value their human capital, it’s part of a massive mindset shift where companies no longer think of their employees as ‘labour’ but rather ‘talent’, and where there is a focus on becoming a company where employees love to work, and customers love to do business with.

There are so many factors that contribute to creating a​​ compelling employee value proposition, which might involve anything from competitive compensation and tailored benefits to career-development opportunities and a reputation for stellar leadership, through to meaningful work, a commitment to diversity and inclusivity, sense of purpose and values alignment.

While some non-transactional factors were once considered “nice to have” they are increasingly becoming key differentiators and the number one reason employees stay with a company. From an employee perspective, think purpose, impact and career growth.

Build talent within

We reached out to our LinkedIn audience recently with a poll that asked, “Right now, what would be the number one motivator for you to switch jobs?”. Not surprisingly, just over 40 percent of respondents indicated ‘career advancement’ as their key driver (followed by role with purpose 26%, better compensation/benefits 19%, improved work-life balance 11%).

We know that we are generally happier if we’re engaged in activities that exercise our skills and abilities. As well as fulfilment and purpose, we’re also motivated by growth. If we don’t see an opportunity for advancement in our current workplace, we will start looking elsewhere. Prioritising learning and development is a win-win – employers are building talent within their business and maintaining a talent pipeline, while your high potentials are kept motivated and provided opportunities to thrive as individuals.

Rethink recruiting

A recent study from research and advisory firm Gartner identified three trends that are rendering traditional recruitment tactics obsolete: in-demand skills have a short shelf life​; talent pools recruiters have routinely tapped are becoming outmoded; and candidates are increasingly selective about whom they work for. As well as creating the best employee experience possible, strengthening leadership capacity to build constructive cultures and creating a magnetic workplace that attracts talent, businesses are responding in other ways.

The first step in adjusting to the new landscape is to stop thinking about hiring as a matter of replacing specific employees. That means looking beyond the immediate needs of a business unit and considering what skills the larger organisation must acquire to succeed in the future. Instead of “Who do we need?” the better question is “What do we need?”. If what you need is hard to come by, this could mean hiring for potential, not experience. This approach to sourcing talent presents its own challenges, like designing assessments that reliably identify potential.

Another tactic is to look beyond traditional talent pools and target the total skills market – looking at in-house talent with adjacent skills, candidates whose skills are self-taught, and especially with the popularity of remote work, people in different geographic locations. Recruiting outside traditional talent clusters can also boost diversity; non-traditional pools tend to contain more women and people of colour than are found in the usual recruiting hot spots.

A note on compensation

StatsNZ figures highlight that wage inflation is at its highest level since 2009, with wage growth expected to continue. What was typically a fairly administrative step in the recruitment process, salary negotiation is becoming an intense and lengthy discussion with counteroffers and counter-counter offers becoming the norm. Even companies that are constrained by salary bands are finding creative ways to compete introducing for example, sign on bonuses or work-from-home allowances, through to long-term-incentives and enhanced wellness benefits.

Remuneration is a priority for most if not all employees and job candidates. What we’ve found however is that people are motivated by a higher salary, not necessarily the highest salary. Offering higher salaries is not a sustainable, long-term solution to talent shortages. It’s a total rewards strategy that will really make a difference.

A note on flexible working

We’ve gone from remote working being viewed as a perk, to working from home (WFH) becoming the norm – from hybrid working options through to enforced RTO (return to work) policies and now companies promoting working from anywhere (WFA) as part of their attraction strategy.

The vast majority of workers (who can perform their roles remotely), prefer a hybrid model, where you have the flexibility to work from home and then spend 2-3 days a week in the office. Committing to an all-remote or majority-remote organisation for knowledge-based work is a major step that will likely require a full-scale transformation of how an organisation works, including all of its communication, collaboration and productivity procedures and systems.

As a business, the questions you need to ask yourself about your chosen approach:​
Is this the way to attract and retain the best talent? ​
And importantly, how do our workers do their best work?

Need help?

The bar is being raised which is driving companies to create differentiation in their talent strategy. You could choose to maintain the status quo in your organisation but ultimately, you’ll be playing catch up in a candidate-centric market. Winning the war for talent requires a genuine commitment to having your people resource front and centre to informing your business strategy.

Need help attracting, retaining and engaging talented people? Let’s talk.

The Decipher Team

To stay on top of current recruitment trends and technologies follow Decipher Group on LinkedIn.

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