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The ’War for Talent’ has Started: Let the Battle Commence

Now that the economy is on the road to recovery it has been declared that the ‘War for Talent’ has started throughout Europe. Businesses are expanding and gifted individuals are in short supply, but how do you know when your organisation needs to make a stand? How do you decide who you are fighting for and what are your tactics? Do you ‘divide and conquer’ or simply come out all guns blazing?

War…What is it good for?

If your response is ‘absolutely nothing’ then you’d be wrong on this occasion. A ‘war for talent’ helps focus an organisation and forces management to ask the question ‘Are we a good employer?’ During a recession employees are more likely to be afraid to leave because if it doesn’t work out elsewhere it may be difficult to get another job. Employees can be severely unhappy, but it is very much a case of ‘better the devil you know’, but as the economy recovers and more job opportunities become available companies who aren’t a desirable employer will quickly see good people abandoning ship.

What are you fighting for?

Before you emerge from the trenches you need to decide what you are fighting for. A review of the current internal talent is needed and a gap analysis for the company as a whole needs to be carried out. This is to determine not only what skills are currently lacking, but also what talent is needed to take the company to the next level in its development in accordance with the company’s long term strategy.

Search and rescue

Once a gap analysis has been completed an organisation must decide where the desired skills are going to come from. This can be a combination of training existing staff or bringing in people from the outside. A salary and benefits benchmarking exercise is needed to determine the cost involved to attract new talent into the business and to retain staff by promoting talent within. If your company isn’t particularly high profile then additional benefits such as flexible working may help to attract people to the organisation. You also need to decide if you are going to carry out the recruitment process in–house or use an external agency, but it is worth noting that good talent is more likely to be in the form of passive candidates. This means that they will not be actively looking for new opportunities, as it is likely that they are already valued by their current employer and are being appropriately looked after. It is therefore worthwhile considering using an agency, who can use their expertise and a wide range of recruitment techniques to seek people with the desired skill sets rather than relying solely on advertising. A training budget and a budget for additional staff can then be established that is needed to fulfil the organisation’s talent shortage.

Bombs away

Internal training and promotions can be implemented straight away once budget has been approved. You then need to decide how you are going to attract the desired new talent into your organisation. If you have a positive company culture it would be beneficial to create some promotional communications to demonstrate this. These communications will be particularly effective if you can use quotes and images from current members of staff. The recruitment process can then begin either internally or through a third party. Psychometric assessments can be used in addition to interviews to ensure that candidates not only have the appropriate skill set, but will also be a good fit with the company culture.

Defend your borders

Once you have attracted the best talent the next challenge is working out how to keep them. Salary and benefits are all well and good, but it is ultimately the company culture which will keep your employees loyal and stop them going A.W.O.L. If staff believes in the organisation and they are kept motivated then they are more likely to stay. Motivation can generally be generated through personal development (training and increased responsibilities), a feeling of belonging (a team culture, flat hierarchy) and recognition of their contribution and achievements. It is also beneficial to have a continual, open dialogue with your employees regarding their happiness which can be achieved through regular one-on-ones and staff surveys.

The bottom line is if you want to attract and retain talent then take a close look at your company culture and use the appropriate methods to find it. The worst case scenario is that you could end up as a one man army which is unlikely to work out unless you’re John Rambo!

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