How strong is your talent management approach?

True or false? Human resource management (HRM) and talent management are one and the same. And since it is to do with ‘people’, the job of talent management belongs to the organization’s HR department.

Both statements are false. Firstly, HR and talent management are indeed connected, but they are also very different functions. Secondly, HRM is undoubtedly a function carried out by the HR department, but talent management is more an organization-wide function and should not be limited to the HR team.

Let’s look at it more closely. Your HR department will identify how many people you need to run your business, look for the right people to fit job roles, ensure that they are paid, that they receive the agreed upon benefits, manage attendance and deal with work place complaints and issues. The HR team performs a very important operational role that allows your business to run smoothly. Talent management on the other hand is more strategic than operational. In a nutshell, it is the process of nurturing, developing and retaining the talent that you have recruited. As such, the onus of talent management lies with the entire organization, not just one department.

Let’s look at it another way — If HRM’s goal is to recruit great talent and run the processes that make the most out of them in order to achieve business goals, talent management’s focus is primarily on ‘making the most out of talent’. While HRM will treat all employees in a similar manner, making an effort not to differentiate in the allocation of company resources, talent management will do the exact opposite by distinguishing employees from each other in terms of their performance and potential.

Are you winning the war for talent?

The ‘war for talent’ was recognized as a business challenge back in 1997, thanks to a ground breaking study conducted by a group of McKinsey & Company consultants. They found that organizations were compelled to compete with each other to attract and retain good talent due to a shortage of the latter. You may think that the landscape has considerably changed today, making this a non-issue in the post 2010 period. But continued research on the topic has shown that although its face may have changed slightly, the war for talent continues.

A 2014 survey conducted by KPMG found that skill shortages were likely to increase due to globalization, competitive pressures in certain industries, improving economic conditions and generational reasons. Another study conducted by McKinsey Global suggests that employers in Europe and North America will require 16–18 million more college-educated workers than are going to be available in 2020. Add to this the ‘short tenure’ attitude of the growing millennial workforce, who reportedly change jobs every three years on average — and it is rather obvious that organizations need to work hard to engage and retain good talent. The initial study conducted by McKinsey in 1997 concluded that organizations can win the war for talent only if they elevate talent management to a burning corporate priority. The same rings true today.

Getting your talent management approach right

In its bare bones form, talent management is really people management. A good talent management strategy requires managers to step back and take stock of how they are using their best talent, put into place processes that nurture, engage and develop that talent so that they will grow into in-house leaders who can deliver the desired results and grow the business.

Recruitment — skills and qualifications should not be the only determining factors when selecting candidates to fill job roles. Recruiters also need to take cultural aspects into consideration. New hires need to fit in seamlessly into an organization’s existing culture if they are going to stick around. Furthermore, a good talent management process means that recruiters first look at the possibility of filling vacant positions from within the organization. The focus is on building skills and competencies of existing talent through constant learning.

Onboarding — creating an engaging onboarding experience can go a long way in giving new recruits a good first impression of your organization. Piles of paperwork and stuffy power point presentations should be a thing of the past. Make the effort to engage with your new hires, while you teach them about your company values, culture and define your expectations. Small details like informing them of appropriate office attire, where to park, where to get lunch, assigning someone to show them around etc. can go a long way in easing them into a new work place, and create a great first impression. Why is this important? 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company if they experience great onboarding.

Training — old school classroom, presentation style training programs are completely ineffective for employees who belong to the digital generation. You will lose them by slide number three of fifty, if not earlier! Furthermore, employees don’t want to be compelled to attend training sessions at times convenient to you. They want to be able to learn anytime, anywhere and at their own pace. Studies have also shown that the higher the engagement with training content, the higher the chances are that employees will retain important information. So, how can you incorporate all this into an effective training and development program? The answer lies in a robust learning management system (LMS) such as Layup, that can customize and optimize your training engagement. A proper, efficient and engaging training system is important to increase employee engagement, which directly correlates to employee retention. A study conducted by Dale & Carnegie Training Centre found that 40% of employees would leave a job within a year due to poor training.

Performance management and recognition — once a year performance reviews are not going to cut it anymore. Your employees expect continuous feedback from managers regarding strengths and weaknesses, so that they can grow and develop. Research has shown that regular feedback increases engagement, which in turn helps with talent retention. Additionally, digital tools such as gamification are great ways to engage employees, create healthy competition and recognize and reward achievements (see Is Your Boardroom At War With Gamification?).

Succession planning — spotting talent that has potential and training, challenging and nurturing them to grow into leaders is an important part of a successful talent management system. This ensures that you are retaining key performers who are well aligned with your company values and business strategy, while also creating value by giving them an opportunity to grow within the organization.

It’s time to get serious about talent management and make an organization-wide effort to retain, nurture and develop those in your existing talent pool. Leverage easy to deploy learning management systems such as Layup, to create more meaningful experiences for your employees, so that they are more engaged and less likely to jump ship. The war for talent is real, don’t be on the losing side.

Layup makes learning fun. Layup uses a social media approach, fused with game dynamics, to create a learning platform that employees love.