The War for Talent

The War for Talent

How can forward-thinking companies recruit and retain top talent? Talent management experts weigh in.

Three Takeaways from the “War for Talent” Session

As the workforce continues to change, companies of all sizes are faced with how to develop and acquire the right talent. With the Baby Boomer generation transitioning into retirement and the rise of Millennials in a competitive marketplace, the labor force is experiencing a seismic shift in filling a significant skills gap across various industries.

The “War for Talent” session—the first leadership panel of its kind to be featured at TravelConnect—answered some of the talent industry’s most burning questions about how smart companies can implement new ways to build a flexible, diverse and thriving workforce.

This panel was moderated by Eric Barger, ARC’s vice president and chief human resources officer, and included top talent management experts Ann Reiling, managing partner of human resources, Lucas Group; David Ascione, senior director of human resources, McCormick & Company; Alexis Dowell, relationship director of CEB, now Gartner; and Mike Koffler, relationship manager of LinkedIn.

Together, they had an in-depth discussion about various trends that are shaping the future U.S. workforce and how businesses can foster leadership development in the workplace. Other key takeaways from this lively conversation included:

The “War for Talent” is On

In this day and age, finding the right talent goes far beyond what’s stated on a person’s resume or LinkedIn profile. Recruiters are redefining the talent acquisition process by taking a more forward-thinking approach to engage with prospective candidates online. “Candidates receive multiple offers and multiple counter offers [every day],” said Ann Reiling, managing partner of human resources of Lucas Group.

Other talent management experts shared the same sentiments in addressing these challenges to stay at the top of people’s minds. “We are fighting for the same talent and [in the] same positions. In 2016, I looked at 9,000 job posts and 39% of them were the same [job],” said Alexis Dowell, relationship director of CEB, now Garter.

Experts agree this won’t be an easy battle to win, but there are things companies can do now to change the narrative of this process. “It’s a great time to be a candidate. [Companies] have to have processes set and ready to go. Remaining flexible and agile is [key]. Also, it’s important to sell your culture,” said David Asicone, senior director of human resources of McCormick & Company.

Companies must take bolder strides to show distinction between competitors—it’s more about selling up company values, flexibility, and diversity; it’s less about relying on traditional methods to attract talent.

Advocating the Use of Social Media in the Workplace

Many companies see digital technology as the driving force behind workplace transformations. As a result, companies are turning to big data to support new talent recruitment methods, as well as social media platforms to better engage with candidates. Mike Koffler, relationship manager of LinkedIn said, “Social media is so important. When [candidates] are researching companies, the easiest way [to learn about a company] is on social.”

Coupled with these social platforms, career-seekers have more power than ever at their fingertips to help guide their decision on where to start a career—and Reiling agrees. “Now, people can comment and respond [to posts about your company]—[candidates] are getting a whole look at [a] company now. [Candidates can] quickly research and look at places like Glassdoor to help make [or break] a [job] decision. The challenge that companies face today is online perception. “You can control what you put out there, but you can’t control what’s out there or what people see,” she said.

A great way to help elevate a company’s brand and promote its corporate values online is to rely on its greatest assets—current employees. “Ask people internally to get involved, it’s the easiest way,” said Koffler. Advocating the use of social media to promote positive messages about your workplace can help attract prospective talent and can help control the narrative (and perception) of your company’s online reputation.

Invest in Your Talent

Investing in your talent takes more than just money to attribute to a long-term career—time is also a key factor. It’s sometimes a misconception that development is mostly an external process. “People used to think development happened outside of the office, but it doesn’t really prepare people to take on the next role [within your organization],” said Ascione.

Whether it is partnering with outside organizations to bring education in-house or adopting more online learning opportunities, companies are compelled to create effective internal training and education programs. Additionally, adding leadership development opportunities can also yield a major return of investment for any company’s long-term growth goals.

Ascione shared insights on how companies should incorporate professional development programs that empower employees to solve real-life scenarios that can deliver solutions within the organization. “It’s like having an internal consulting shop to help solve internal problems. [Plus,] it’s become an expectation within our company that you participate in this program to be considered for leadership roles [in the future],” he said.

The “Jungle Gym” Approach

Gone are the days of keeping an up-and/or-out linear career. Companies are increasingly adopting the “jungle gym approach” (a combination of both lateral and vertical movement) when it comes to illustrating the possibilities in one’s career journey. “The number one reason people are leaving jobs is for other opportunities. No one cares more about your career than you do. If that message isn’t being conveyed, then we can start having those conversations today. It’s not just linear careers; it’s a jungle gym now. ‘In-role’ development is [needed] because it’s not just about a title or upward mobility [anymore],” said Dowell.

With more options in the market, it’s imperative that talent managers are taking proactive measures to keep employees engaged. According to Koffler, various data supports that most people tend to evaluate their careers around the two- to three-year mark; it’s when most people decide if they will stay or leave a job.

One of the best ways to stay ahead of the game is ensuring conversations about career paths are happening the first day on the job. Talent managers benefit by establishing a meaningful relationship with new employees early—if talent leaders illustrate various career paths early, then it can help alleviate some of the business risk of losing talent in the future. “Talk about careers on day one. [Employees] should have a five-year, 10-year plan in mind—building that trust and really keep that promise,” he said.

Arika Lawrence

About the author

Arika Lawrence is the marketing programs specialist at ARC. In her role, she creates eye-catching emails and supports marketing initiatives for ARC’s various products and services. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering in her community, traveling the world and trying new cuisines.