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How to attract and retain top talent

retaining talentBersin by Deloitte recently predicted that in 2014 organisations will be challenged to attract, retain and develop people as they strive to keep pace with the global economic recovery.

Here are some tips from ResourceBank on how to attract top talent and ensure they stay with you.

It takes a lot of effort to recruit people, not to mention the cost that is usually associated with staffing. Imagine how great life would be if top talent in your sector were flocking to your organisation to work? We do see companies where this is happening – and the key message is that a well thought through candidate attraction strategy beats just standard recruitment activity time and time again. You don’t have to be a household brand to make this happen either, you just have to create a workplace that people will enjoy working in and develop an attractive employer brand.

In this day and age, you cannot afford to be a best kept secret – you need an employer brand with the power to interest people from the moment they first engage with your organisation. Capture their imagination and ignite their desire to be a part of what your business is about is priceless in the competition for top talent.

Today’s workforce wants to feel valued and know that their contribution makes a difference. They also want to be treated with respect, which includes being paid based on the value they bring to an organisation.

Consider this, whatever your role within your organisation, when is the last time you told one of your people that you are really glad they are part of the team? And do you have a strategy in place to ensure that your people understand how their work connects to the bigger picture of the business? Another question to consider is – have you given someone a raise on the spot because they deserve it, rather than waiting until their annual review? Our point here is that most people want to stay with their employers, in today’s market you want to make that an easy choice for them.

However that is when you already have the talent on board. Let’s look at how you can ensure you get the best candidates to join your organisation over the competition in the first place?

Most companies we are working with aren’t complaining about the lack of applicants; they’re often concerned about the quality, as often the best of the best are currently only on the job market for such a short time, if at all. So what are these candidates looking for?

In today’s recovering economic landscape, real talent will be looking for a profitable company where they can build their careers and get paid market value. Other factors that influence individuals to accept a job offer, or even consider a move at all, will include structuring a role to suit them, individual training, customised career paths, workforce flexibility in terms of hours, tailored benefits packages and performance related remuneration. With those factors in mind, here are some suggestions to not only attract but retain the best talent.

Make their career aims your priority
Without big budgets or maybe a product or service that is not considered cutting edge or glamorous, it’s tough to compete with big brands and exciting product ranges. By placing a degree of emphasis on the work aims and ambitions of individuals you can cut through a lot of that.  Finding out what candidates want from their careers and making that happen for them could be a really powerful tool for hiring and retaining the best.

Offer a sense of freedom
Companies don’t often take the time to understand why some people choose to participate in a new or recently launched business over more established organisations. These individuals want freedom and autonomy to create something and be in right at the start, especially evident with Generation Y candidates. If your business falls in the ‘established’ category, you will need to develop an environment that supports and rewards the freedom and innovation these individuals aspire to.

Understand and meet their needs
Too often organisations recruit with a “here we are and here’s why you should join us” attitude. Instead, treat talent acquisition just as you would do customer acquisition. Know the type of individual you want to target, go find them, learn what they need and meet those needs.

Appeal to their lifestyle
Long working hours are a given in the UK however, as budgets were cut and staff headcount frozen or reduced in recent years, the majority of this country’s workforce has seen their workloads become even more demanding, so how do you combat that? Combine compensation packages that offer a choice of lifestyle benefits, like flexi-time for example, as even the most driven employees will be hard pushed to leave an organisation where they have a degree of ownership of their work/life balance.

Focus on your mission and culture
Despite the reported talent shortage in many industries, fast growing companies can still recruit the best talent. Focus on your mission and culture as individuals are increasingly more concerned with these than with many other elements. You may not be able to match the salaries that some of the more established corporates can pay, but you can have an inspiring mission and an open and transparent culture that attracts the best skills.

Become a “destination employer”
If a limited budget is a factor in your recruitment, consider developing a brand with a reputation for helping employees build a long-term career. A decade ago, companies could fill their vacancies by promising a high salary, however today we see that companies still can’t necessarily up the ante with their salary bands. That’s actually good news because today’s employee wants more than just money. So build on this desire and create a reputation that your company offers good career progression opportunities, not just a role which will be a stepping stone onto more senior level ones with competitors. That does mean offering, for example, on-going training and career development, innovative compensation and benefits plans, coaching and mentoring to show potential employees that they will be valued and have opportunities to develop.

Be mindful that, as organisations have become leaner, they’ve cut out a lot of steps in the career ladder, and it’s harder to learn from someone with more experience when they aren’t there to learn from. So you have to create a framework where individuals are going to get these development opportunities.

Widen your horizons
Finally, don’t overlook people who have taken time away from the workforce, whether to raise a family, retrain or focus on entrepreneurship. These individuals are likely to be more open to new opportunities, can usually offer wider commercial acumen and a diverse skill set too. If they’re at a later stage in their career, they may also be perfec in the role of coach or mentor – ideal if you want to create a culture of developing careers from within.

In summary, high calibre talent is never available for long when they do look for new opportunities, if they ever have to look at all. You may well need to introduce a more creative element to your recruitment and retention strategies to ensure you not only secure the top talent but can then incentivise them to stay too.