Talent Management - Why You Need an Awesome Employee Experience

Paul PetersTalent Mgmt 1X B

There has probably never been a better time to get serious about talent management.

Why is that?

Right now happens to be one of the most difficult times ever for recruiting, and it's harder than ever to retain good employees. Recent reports show that there are more unfilled job openings in the U.S. than ever before.

U.S. job openings chart.

via Bloomberg

Talent management means having a recruiting strategy that keeps a steady pipeline of great employees coming in your door and creating an awesome employee experience that retains and develops them.

Interested? Let's take a look at the basics of talent management, starting with a definition.

What is Talent Management? The Importance of Employee Experience

First off, talent management shouldn't be confused with career management. 

Career management, or career development, is viewed from the employee perspective. It's about how an individual employee goes about planning and developing their career.

Talent management is a big picture view of HR, from the employer's perspective. It's about managing the experience of employees from end to end, much the same way we try to manage the customer experience. 

It's a process for recruiting, retaining and developing great employees, keeping them engaged, and making sure all of this aligns with the strategy and goals of a company or organization. 

A comprehensive approach to talent management looks at employee psychology, using the latest information on how recognition, compensation, a sense of purpose, and autonomy all affect the way employees perform. A lot of the psychology is counter-intuitive. For example, it's generally understood that recognition often trumps the power of compensation (money) as an effective motivator.

Many companies still don't go this broad or deep with their hiring. If you don't have a talent management process in place, your hiring is probably reactive, being done on an as-needed basis. 

It's understandable why you might have a reactive approach to hiring and HR. You're probably stressed enough about filling key positions, and wondering where you'd find the time to build a whole process around your hiring.

But these days, when it's taking an all-time high of 29 days to fill positions, you're going to have less stress and a lot more success if you plan ahead with a talent management program. 

Time to fill jobs at record high in the U.S.

via Bloomberg

Can you wait a month to bring on your next employee? If not, it's a good time to come up with a strategy that gives you steady access to great talent. It may cost you a bit of extra work in the short term, but long term, when you always know where your next hire is coming from, you'll be thankful.

How Talent Management Fits into Your Business Strategy

Talent management is a very comprehensive way of looking at human resources. 

It takes human resources and makes it the responsibility of the whole company, from the top down, rather than the job of a single person, department or contractor. 

In talent management everyone from the CEO to a front line employee is charged with looking out for the next great hire, making sure new leaders are being developed, and ensuring the company's culture inspires and attracts great people and retains them. In a company that manages talent, everyone is responsible for creating a great employee experience. 

It's especially important though, for HR and CEOs to connect on strategy. If HR has an understanding of the long term business strategy, they can start preparing now for the hires the company will need in the future.

CEOs are coming around to the idea that talent management is important. 

How CEOs rank talent management.

I wouldn't be surprised if we see those numbers swing even more in favor of talent management, given the current state of recruiting. 

How The Talent Management Process Is Evolving

Right now there are some big trends shaping the talent management process.

Employee retention is at a low point, with employees holding onto jobs for an average of just 4.4 years, and hiring, as we mentioned earlier, is taking longer than ever. This definitely shows in HR attitudes towards hiring.

HR says it's getting harder to hire.

As a result, talent management strategies are changing. There's more emphasis on improving both the speed and quality of hiring, getting new employees up to speed faster, and managing the employer brand to be more attractive.

Employee engagement is the another big factor in talent management now. In the U.S. engagement is currently at about 30 percent, and seems to decrease with each generation. Low engagement means low retention, productivity and profitability, along with higher accident rates.

We'll get more in-depth with engagement later in this article, with tips on how you can improve it.

While talent management is evolving, and both CEOs and HR seem aware of the value of talent management and the difficult hiring market we're in, it's interesting to note that 35 percent of companies are still stuck in "reactive" mode - just hiring as needed.

Just 13 percent are actively using a talent management approach that is strategically aligned with the business and prepared for future needs.

So clearly, it's not enough to understand what talent management is - companies and organizations need to put it in practice as a way to find, retain and develop talent.

How Talent Managers are Searching for the Best People

Finding talented employees with the right skills is harder than ever.

In fact, it appears that in U.S. history there has never been a larger mismatch between the skills employers are looking for and the skills employees have. 

If you take a talent manager's approach to finding your next hires, you'll be looking at the big picture to solve this problem. That includes everything from writing better job ads that get talent in the door to improving employer branding, building a better hiring process and increasing engagement of employees you already have.

By managing talent, not only are you enlisting everyone in the company to help you bring on talent, you're using every tool available to you.

How a Talent Management Plan Helps Retain Employees

As we mentioned before, employee retention is at a low point. In fact, the job-hopping frequency of recent grads has nearly doubled in recent years.

Luckily retention is one of the many areas where the big picture approach of talent management really pays off. 

Trying to solve your staffing issues by attracting more applicants, without taking a step back and looking at retention, is like trying to fill a bucket that has a hole in the bottom. All your efforts are just going to drip, drip, drip away.

So what can you do to keep your talent from leaking out? Great talent managers know that a key aspect to better retention is employee engagement. Employees who are engaged in their jobs are 87 percent more likely to be retained. 

The basic definition of engagement is employees who are absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work. People also think of it as an employee desire to use discretionary effort at work. This is effort that goes past the minimum necessary to create satisfactory work - it's literally going above and beyond.

Interestingly, studies show that top paying companies often do poorly on retention. 

So what can you do to improve engagement, and therefore retention?

  • Give recognition. When employees go above and beyond, even in a small way, give them some form of recognition, and encourage their colleagues to do the same.
  • Allow for autonomy. Whenever possible, give employees the chance to make their own choices, whether that's how they tackle a project, where they work from, or the hours they work.
  • Give a sense of purpose. Help employees understand how the work they are doing fits into the big picture, and why it's important. 

Interestingly, another tool for both helping companies improve retention and deal with high turnover is better training and development. Let's take a closer look at this part of talent management.

Growing Your Own Talent with Training and Development Programs

There's another aspect to keeping your talent pipeline filled that can come in handy when you're in a hiring market that's short on skilled workers and has low retention rates.

That's training up new staff quickly so they have the skills you need, and keeping your positions filled from the inside with development programs. 

Google has a really high turnover rate - employees last just one year there. So how do they manage to keep the gears of one of the world's top companies from grinding to a halt? For one, they're awesome at training and development. 

In fact, they've gone beyond just "training" and adopted a very talent management oriented approach to the problem - they've fostered a culture of learning at their company, in which employees are not just encouraged to train for their jobs, but to learn more from each other about any topics that interest them, whether that be design and programing, or parenting and yoga. 

The overall point of training and development, from a talent management perspective, is that it needs to be strategic. Look to build training programs that can quickly create workers with the skills you need. 

Also, consider what positions would be the hardest to hire for if they did come open, and see if you can create a mentorship or development program to start creating the next person for that position. 

Metrics to Help You Measure Talent Management and Performance

At the end of the day, how do you know if your focus on talent management is actually improving your company's performance?

You've got to measure it. A few performance indicators that should be obvious from reading this article so far are time to hire, retention rate and employee engagement. 

Other metrics to consider are internal vs. external hiring (as a way to see if mentoring/training programs are working), and candidate reactions to your hiring process.

Of course, it's one thing to talk about measuring talent and performance, another thing to get it done and put it into action. Luckily there are several software tools available to help you both measure your efforts and put talent management principles into practice. 

Here are four useful software applications, in no particular order.

  • Halogen Software - Helps you measure and manage performance, development, recruiting and onboarding efforts. 
  • Talentsoft - Offers several features to help with talent management, including HR analytics. 
  • TalentGuard - Talent management software to help with engaging, managing and developing your people.
  • HighGround - Helps you measure and improve employee performance and engagement.

If you're starting from zero on a talent management program, these software services should help you get off the ground a bit more quickly.

Go Find Your People with a Solid Talent Management Strategy

That should give you the information you need to get started on building a talent management program, and help you understand how employee experience is essential to improving recruitment, retention and performance at your company or organization.

The first step is getting new talent in the door. Try posting a job with Betterteam today and see how we can help you get the word out.

Paul Peters
Paul Peters
Wordsmith for Betterteam.