When Hiring Is Not Enough: How to Attract and Retain Top Talent

To thrive and prosper in the competitive age, leading companies like Google, Amazon, Uber, and Apple pay much attention to building strong teams consisting of the best talent. They know that every newly joined employee can either help their company to move forward or slow it down.  

In the book Leading Organizations, McKinsey senior partners Scott Keller and Mary Meaney focus on ten issues leaders face, chief among which are attracting and retaining talent as well as developing the talent they already have.

Your company should focus on three key processes to get the right people, in particular, smart recruiting, smooth onboarding, and continuous learning and development. But first things first.

The Future of Work Influences the Future of Recruiting. How to get ready?

Recruitment has undergone visible changes over the last few years, and now the process of searching for promising candidates and filling open positions is much more than just looking through paper resumes. In fact, the scope of recruiters’ responsibilities is much broader. In order to address the future needs of a company, hiring teams should leverage the following practices.

  • Prioritize positions to avoid budget overruns and speed up the recruitment process.

For every company, cutting costs is crucial for profitability and subsequent growth, so it’s important to learn to prioritize and firstly fill key vacancies that will contribute to business the most. Here we can refer to the Pareto Principle (The 80/20 Rule) that suggests 20% of the workers produce 80% of the results. Of course, it’s a rough estimate but the key is that most things have an unequal distribution.

At Google, they know that many competing companies such as Facebook or Twitter are also hunting for the best talent. That’s why Google allocates plenty of resources to speed up the recruitment process and win over best candidates to fill key roles and avoid the costly mistake of losing a promising employee right when they need them.

  • Support new employees from Day 1.

Caroline Stokes, the executive coach and headhunter behind The Emotionally Intelligent Recruiter, emphasizes that “recruiting is not about hiring and then ignoring, but about hiring and then supporting the person as they get integrated into an organization.”  We all know how it feels when it’s the first week at a new job—you don’t know most of your coworkers, you have a lot of questions, you feel excited and terrified at the same time, you’re overwhelmed with information and emotions. That’s why support is crucial. “When you’re a recruiter, you have an intimate relationship with that person, and you want them to succeed,” adds Stokes. Welcoming a new employee onboard means engaging them from day #1, through ongoing peer and manager support, smartly organized job-related training, and open communication.

  • Use technology and data to match a perfect candidate with your company.

The evolution of the recruiter’s role assumes that a key responsibility of hiring teams will be predicting future talent needs and being ready to meet them from then on. Caroline Stokes says that we’re on the cusp of a new age in recruiting (Recruiter 3.0):

Recruiter 1.0 was when an ad would go into the paper and people would apply via snail mail. Recruiter 2.0 was the digital age, where you got a job on LinkedIn. Recruiter 3.0 is the age of the machines—or, more accurately, the age of the human-machine partnership. Recruiter 3.0 is going to be the A.I. age, wherein recruiters need to step up into being data savvy—not in the same way as Boolean strings and managing spreadsheets, but in really getting closer to the clients, internal and external.

Big data can take the guesswork out of the hiring process. Technology will play a great role in helping recruiters find the perfect matches for their company. Automated resume screening, video conferencing, and advanced data analytics are already creating a deeper understanding of each candidate, thus helping to hire only those who meet the company’s needs and culture.

  • Look for candidates with transferable skills outside their industry.

Kevin Delaney, Vice President of Learning and Development at LinkedIn, believes that recruiters of new talent will shift their focus away from potential employees’ current skills and capabilities and instead focus on learning agility, passion, and employee fit. David Sproul, senior partner and chief executive of Deloitte North West Europe, predicts that “employers need to change their approach to recruitment since traditional recruitment processes tend to focus on academic achievement and sector expertise, and could overlook individuals who might be well-suited for the role but who have built up their skills in a different context.”

Recruiters should think outside of the box to find off-the-wall talent in places that have never been explored before. For example, Volvo needed new people with different skills to move into the premium-brand tier and compete with mass-market leaders like Toyota and GM. Björn Sällström, CHRO at Volvo, examined the company’s existing workforce and came to an interesting conclusion:

Technically, cars today are very different from ten years ago. Once, you needed mechanical engineers. Today, there’s a greater need for software engineers because cars are computers more than anything else.

Consequently, Sällström looked for people with relevant skills outside of the automotive industry and, as a result, he hired Nokia engineers, who were accustomed to thinking about what digital forms appeal to consumers, to redesign radio and navigation systems. He then looked to the fashion industry, hiring craftsmen, and shook up the managerial ranks by hiring executives who had conceived and executed comparably significant strategic shifts at larger companies.

Volvo dared to expand its peripheral vision to make the company competitive again, hiring employees with relevant skills, and faced new challenges fully armed with an innovative and diverse talent pool.

Smart recruiting is just the beginning. Here’s what to fall back on to win the war for talent

Smart recruiting is the first step to get the most talented people. At the same time, it is a part of a bigger picture that also includes onboarding and continuous learning. Let’s see in more details why these two components are significant.

  • Smooth onboarding

First impressions count. In fact, new employees decide whether they feel at home at a company within the first three weeks, with 4% quitting their job after the first day. According to the Wynhurst Group research, new employees who go through a structured onboarding program are 58% more likely to stay with the organization after the first three years.

Companies should consider the long-term implications when designing a thorough onboarding strategy, starting from a clear job description so that potential employees know what to expect from the job and ending with clear hallmarks of company culture and visible opportunities for professional development. In other words, after hiring a promising employee, you should constantly engage them, because even if they stay, according to the HBR research, a third of employees may not be putting all their effort into their work.  

Onboarding will be effective if you:

  1. Let employees hit the ground running from day #1.
  2. Make employees feel like they belong.
  3. Get the whole team involved to provide streamlined communication.
  4. Set a clear path for employee integration into their job role.
  5. Make sure employees know their potential career roadmap.
  6. Offer various opportunities for continuous learning and development.

In order to scale and manage this process with large teams, you can use onboarding and training apps. For managers, they will serve as a great tool for multitasking in terms of properly monitoring, assessing, and engaging new employees. It will allow new hires to engage in meaningful interaction with colleagues, providing a sense of community from the first day at work. Moreover, relevant chunks of content that can be accessed on-the-go will facilitate the retention of information.

  • Continuous learning and development

Your business success is measured by the strength of your employees. Developing talent within your current workforce is as crucial as attracting new talent. Essentially, if you provide great opportunities for professional growth and development, you will have much less trouble in employing new talent. The LinkedIn research supports this idea, stating that 59% of employees joined companies for better career paths or more opportunities.

A smart learning platform can serve as a great way of providing continuous learning. It is an effective tool to ensure your employees’ skills and knowledge are up-to-date so that they don’t lag behind your company’s future needs. In addition, the right LMS will make employees’ learning experience enjoyable. When people get relevant content to meet instant learning needs, when they can learn at their own pace and on-the-go, when they receive feedback and see their achievements, employees will be more motivated to learn, contribute to the company’s growth, and stay longer with the company.

Well-trained employees are your main weapon in getting ready for tomorrow’s reality. For sure, the future will bring different types of job roles; it will change the way we work, and the war for talent will become even tougher. The only way to come out as a winner in this war is to constantly improve your employees’ skills and update their knowledge.

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