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Fri 27 Sep 2019 12:46 AM

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Opinion: navigating the journey beyond talent attraction

Companies are transforming themselves from a traditional job-based career framework to one that is skills-based, a factor that will stimulate greater business success

Opinion: navigating the journey beyond talent attraction
Leaders and organisations often inadvertently disengage from staff

Most companies have a variation of the slogan that states they aim to “attract and retain the best talent”. However, it is undisputable that most organisations go through far greater efforts to attract new talent into their workforce than they do in retaining them. It’s a little like marriage, if you think about it: the romance tends to fade away after the big day and as time passes by. This begs the questions: how do you keep the romance alive? Or how do you keep employees engaged and committed to your organisation? The answer can be quite simple: attract them every single day.

Data from employee engagement research is very compelling. Mercer’s global and regional benchmarks for employee engagement of staff employed with their companies for less than one year is a staggering 86 percent in the GCC region. But this number tumbles down to 80 percent for employees with tenure between one and three years, and even further down to 78 percent as employees stay with the company for three to six years. This pattern clearly demonstrates that leaders and organisations inadvertently disengage people at work over time.

Effective recruitment, or talent acquisition, practices should be integrated throughout the employment lifecycle to ensure organisations continue to attract their own talent. Below are some of the good “attraction” practices that can, or should, be equally applied in “retaining” staff:

1. Identifying the best candidate Job candidates often go through an exhaustive requirement process to be selected – this can include  CV screens, online assessments, interviews, role playing, etc. Yet, internal promotion or job selection processes tend to follow much simpler processes, and although employers will have far more knowledge about current employees as opposed to external candidates, sometimes having a process that spurs transparency and gives everyone a fair chance drives much greater engagement and tends to motivate high performers. After all, high performers like to compete, they like putting themselves to the test, and appreciate the recognition that comes with being selected internally to take on a new role or being promoted.

2. “Selling” a compelling and attractive job Most employees, over time, tend to feel disengaged or lose interest in their jobs, and therefore look for other options. On the other hand, any good recruiter will promote the organisation and a vacancy as a compelling proposition, an experience candidates can’t refuse. Once again, organisations tend to fail in building this image of excitement and success in their own employees and don’t highlight the various thriving opportunities they can explore internally. As jobs become more compelling, less transactional and more experimental or relational, it’s more important than ever to promote all the great opportunities a company has to offer to its own staff.

3. Defining a purposeful career path A very common interview question is “where do you see yourself in five years?” however, this is very rarely asked to internal staff demonstrating a lack of concern about employee career goals. Good workforce management always integrates the company’s future with employee goals.  The modern-day career framework embraces the importance of broad skills – companies are moving away from a traditional job-based career framework, anchored around technical capabilities, to one that is skills-based and drives greater business success, generating greater excitement among employees.

Human resources functions and managers often appear to have given up on their staff, resigned to the fact that people just leave, that’s the way it is in the modern world. However, although talent now has a much greater exposure to other opportunities and a desire to explore alternative working arrangements, the idea that people moving on is a part of today’s reality is not entirely accurate. This new workforce reality just means that employers must put in the same – or even more – energy in keeping talent attracted to the organiswation as they would in attracting external recruitments.

It is proven in business literature that the costs of recruitment are far greater than those of retaining current staff; so why not try harder?

Nuno Gomes, Head of Careers at Mercer in the MENAT region