The war for your talent #OHSHRM

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the alleged war for talent. I spoke about my view on this at #OhioSHRM, when I discussed a concept that I was honoured to have quoted by China Gorman in her closing keynote. The key point at the start of my presentation was that there is no war for talent. We can’t have the high levels of unemployed talent across the globe and claim that there is any meaningful war being waged.

What we do have however, as a result of changing skills requirements by hiring companies is a real war for other people’s talent. You want other people’s talent, and they want yours. The booming sectors are in Technology, Information, Data, Finance, Health and Medical and the service industries that support these sectors. These are termed the knowledge sectors.

At the same time, sectors like Manufacturing, and those requiring what is termed low-skilled labor or manual labor are in rapid decline. Some skills have become redundant in the new age, and the real challenge for governments across the globe is reskilling this large part of the unemployed, but that is for another blog.

In many quarters, what recovery we have seen has been described as the jobless recovery. Theres been an increase in reported open vacancies, but at the same time unemployment has been rising. The skills gap has been apparent, and those people securing new employment are usually moving from existing employment. That means that whilst you want other people’s talent, other people want yours.

Hiring is getting harder and harder. People need to be 100% sure to move, and Hiring Managers are getting more and more risk averse in their hiring decisions. Given the difficulty and cost in hiring, it makes me wonder why more attention isn’t paid to retention. We know of talent acquisition teams, and talent acquisition strategies. How many organisations operate an active retention team with a retention strategy.

What do you think?


Ohio SHRM Prezi

5 comments on “The war for your talent #OHSHRM

  1. It’s all interconnected.

    Talent Acquisition, Recruitment (yes there is a difference), Retention, Training, Succession Planning, Employer Brand – they all play a part in getting and keeping the right people.

    If a company can’t attract and hire people quickly enough, that puts enormous pressure on the moral of existing employees because their workload and work hours increase to cover the gaps in their department.

    The better companies are at attracting, assessing and hiring the right people, the more effective their retention efforts are. Sprinkle that with meaningful training, personal development and succession planning and you have yourself a “People Department’ that works.

    There’s no point having a great horse if the cart only has three wheels – and vice versa.

    • Mitch,
      Thanks for commenting.I think it starts with hiring and this is getting harder. Slow hiring does undoubtedly impact on retention with people over loaded. I think retention goes well beyond this. The people in organisations that get attention are problem people or top performers. The majority sit in the middle and are largely unnoticed, till they leave. I don’t think I’ve come across too many people whose job is retention, though I’ve met 1000’s who hire.This displays priorities in my opinion.

  2. Bill – I like the mind-set shift inherent in your article but not sure I fully recognize the distinction. I feel ‘war for talent’ has long been used to describe what you’re referring to. The use of the term ‘war for talent’ rather than just ‘war for people’ infers that it’s for specific skills.

    Having said that, I do think it’s a great way to reinforce that universal unemployment numbers are irrelevant to a specific company’s talent challenges. The ‘war’ only really exists where people are fighting for each others’ talent. It’s a war for scarce resources (ie diamonds) rather than the bountiful available resources (ie sand). OK, will stop with the de-humanising mineral analogies now.

    To Mitch’s points, I agree that a company’s inability to attract (the right) people quickly enough has a very negative impact on existing employees. Increasingly this will be offset by better niche outsourcing and use of third parties (once the process and seamlessness catches up, which it is doing more quickly than many realise). I think it’s one of the unsung factors driving convergence of recruitment process outsourcing and management of temporary employees, contract resources and consultants. These things need to be fluid, or the internal ‘core’ of highly talented employees will be dissatisfied and prone to offers from those other companies hunting for their skills.

    • Staff numbers and open jobs create problems for the existing staff. This includes contingent and non-contingent workforce. Retention goes well beyond this though. Hiring isjust the start.

  3. I have seen SOME companies who are looking to grow rather than acquire their talent. However, the conflict for companies looking to decide how much to invest in this area is, that by doing this, you are increasing the market capital of those people you are investing in. Outcome? They are pursued even more aggressively by the warmongers. I have seen it work well in large organisations where the focus has been the ‘Top 100’ who are all potential CXO’s of the future and so the carrot is there to keep these people engaged in such programs and stay inside the organisation. But at the other end of the market the investment seems to be more driven by moral obligation than a realisation fo genuine value. Large organisations seem to be resigned to losing some of the better people in their grad intake after a 1-2 years to small companies who are increasingly looking for grad+ rather than fresh grads. Has anyone stumbled on a formula which has helped achieve a good balance? Any methods to ensure that this talent doesn’t walk out the door the minute you’ve poured all this investment in to them?

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