Winning the war on talent

Winning the war on talent 150 150 Cypher

Winning the war on talent

I’ve had a number of meetings with clients, all of whom tell me how hard it is hire people at the moment. Simply put there aren’t enough quality candidates to fit all the roles available. There is a talent shortage and everyone wants the best available. This blog is about winning the war on talent.

The lack of quality candidates is represented on a national scale as according to the Office for National Statistics, job vacancies have hit a record high of 953,000 in the three months to July. The unemployment rate meanwhile fell to 4.7% in the three months to June, while the annual growth in average pay was 7.4%. Despite this overall increase in optimism, finding – and keeping -the right talent is a challenge.

Every business owner wants the best people. But, as the ONS stats show, it’s a candidate-led market and the abundance of jobs available, means the cream can pick and choose who they sell their skills to. You need to create a culture that’s conducive to attracting talent, enabling it to grow before you can reap the benefits as the best people stay and attract more talent.

The new hybrid or remote working models have provided a further challenge to creating this culture; while remote working offers more flexibility and demonstrates more trust, when people aren’t all together in a physical space there is a potential loss of team dynamic, of collaboration, or of idea creation.

Two types of leader
For me hybrid working has developed two types of leader; there’s the ones who, despite not doing this before the pandemic, are now clock-watching to check productivity, they are micro-managing their staff and stressing about how to monitor their work because they can’t physically see them. Then there is another group that has embraced remote working, provided the tech and the systems for their staff to work autonomously – with support- who are now five steps ahead of the competition and frankly killing it in the war for the best talent.

Put yourself in your candidate’s shoes
We work with a lot of recruiters and their feedback is that to attract your talent, like you would any potential customer, you need to wow them before they even step through the door –or join the Zoom call. When they’re checking your website and they’re looking at all the other little touch points within your business, or speaking to colleagues or contacts about what it’s like to work there, you  need to wow them because – like any consumer – they’ve got a number of alternative choices.

You have to put yourself in their shoes. Think, if you were a candidate now, what else would you look for in addition to the brand name and the name of the person interviewing you? There’s the history of the business, Google reviews showing who the customers are and what they say- are they good brands themselves? Will it excite someone to work with those businesses? What’s the full package you offer? Is it flexible, hybrid or office-based what sort of hours do you work, what hardware or software is there to support them and this model?

What’s your Employee USP?
If you want the best people, there needs to be a reason why they want to join you. What is your unfair advantage? Usually it’s who you are being are as a leader, the quality of the conversation you have with them, as well as your purpose and your legacy.

Don’t forget throughout the pandemic a lot of energy, ideas, motivation and passion have gone into creating new start-ups as workers have decided to go it alone, so now you have to convince candidates that working for you is better than working for themselves.

It’s not all about the money
The majority of clients and recruiters reinforce this point consistently; it isn’t always about the money. The candidates that are still in a role, or juggling more than one opportunity will receive a counter offer to attract or retain them. If that offer blows yours out of the water, the chances are you will lose out, but that business may then have to offer similar raises across its workforce whicj will eat into its margins. Or, if the candidate is out of the door enough to be looking for – and taking- interviews there is a good chance that something else has motivated them to leave.

Alan talked on the Podcast about a recent signing for his team, Glasgow Rangers. The player had offers from clubs in England and France that would undoubtedly have offered him more money. The deciding factor for him was a conversation with the manager Steven Gerrard. Many of you will know of Gerrard’s exploits on the pitch for Liverpool and England, but off it, his pledge to make the new signing a better player – ultimately enhancing his career -was what sold it. Can you offer your candidates the chance to simply be better at what you do?

Marketing to candidates
Most businesses are really good at understanding who their ideal clients or customers are and marketing to them. You need to use this same strategy in any recruitment drive. Identify who your ideal candidate might be in terms of skill set, personality and cultural fit and then market to them as if you’re trying to attract customers. Think about all of the energy, resource and creativity that goes into attracting potential customers into your sales funnel and replicate that. Create your talent strategy to win the war.

Communication and role clarification
We talked a lot about bringing people in, but you also need to keep what you’ve got. Start by reviewing and clarifying your team’s roles and the positive difference they make to your company and to your customers. Be transparent about what a good job looks like, what a great job looks like and if someone wants a pay increase what sort of contribution they need to make to get it, so then you can start to talk about career progression and development within their role.

The second thing is your internal communication; how often do you talk to your teams and not at them? What tone do you use, what subjects are discussed, are you motivational and inspiring, is it a two-way conversation and how much do you- or do they think you care about their lives and situations away from work?

These two things have a massive impact on culture – and then make it more authentic when you talk it up at interview.

Right person, wrong role
Separating the person from the role, looking at all the skills you have in your business versus the jobs you need doing can be another way of getting the right person into the right job. Businesses can learn to move things around and create the right role for the right person. Allowing your people to grow, move up or change what they’re doing will create different roles underneath.

Talent pipeline
Ill use the example of a manufacturing client; their work is specialised requiring a specific skills set. Historically, these skills were widely available in the market place, now they are in short supply. To support their talent pipeline they recruit an apprentice every year. Now in my school days – the 90’s- apprenticeships, and particularly trade apprenticeships, were reserved for the kids that weren’t particularly academic. These kids were pushed towards trades and 30 years on are all doing very well. But in the 2020’s, while apprenticeships are growing in popularity, are the same levels of apprentices in these traditional trades coming through? The manufacturing business owner has decided to push the boat out and recruit three or four to safeguard his business for the next 10 years or so.

It is important to ask yourself where your talent comes from and if the pipeline is still strong! If not, do something about it.

There is a war on talent. The game has changed. If we thought people were becoming more demanding pre pandemic, post pandemic it’s going off the scale. Unless you want to be at the back of the queue, you really do need to have a strategy for winning talent, developing your people and putting the best possible team out there.

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