6 Ideas for Finding and Keeping Top-Tier Workers

Recruiting is hard. Especially now. In today’s historically tight labor market, finding and keeping talent is now top of mind for business leaders.

A new report from The Conference Board offers six recommendations to acquire and retain the talent organizations need to succeed, especially in the new landscape of increased remote and hybrid work arrangements. 

Transforming Talent Acquisition, Onboarding, and Internal Mobility brings together findings from an online survey of more than 175 talent acquisition (TA) and HR leaders, an online survey of more than 2,400 workers, and conversations with TA and HR leaders, CHROs, and CEOs. Insights include:

Broaden the talent pool: Hire workers with alternative credentials.

Many organizations have redoubled their efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion since the racial unrest in the summer of 2020.

  • Alternative credentials open the door for organizations to consider a wider, more diverse range of candidates and for employees to consider roles that were previously unavailable to them. 
    • 81 percent of TA and HR leaders agree that their focus on recruiting and hiring diverse candidates has intensified since the onset of COVID-19. 
    • 48 percent of respondents say that going forward, there will be less reliance on four-year degrees/more reliance on alternative credentials. 
  • Key recommendations include: 
    • Identify required skills, capabilities, and credentials to meet current and future workforce needs. 
    • Alter the selection criteria of applicant tracking systems to include more granular skill identification and not erroneously eliminate candidates. 
    • Create a culture that accepts alternative credentials.

Don’t hoard talent: Encourage internal mobility.

Talent mobility has taken on new importance in response to the hiring freezes many organizations faced early in the pandemic, and now as they confront talent shortages.

  • Talent mobility is a vital way to influence workers to stay at an organization. 
    • 74 percent of organizational leaders don’t want their talent poached internally. 
    • 61 percent of respondent organizations do not have a cross-functionally integrated talent mobility program. 
    • Only 34 percent of surveyed TA and HR leaders report that their organizations have implemented an internal talent marketplace platform to allow employees to see all open positions and potential career paths. 
    • 58 percent of surveyed TA and HR leaders report that employees are concerned about upward mobility if they are not physically in the workplace. 
  • Key recommendations include: 
    • Reward leaders for facilitating the movement of their employees. 
    • Develop a cross-functional integrated talent mobility program. 
    • Implement an internal talent marketplace. 
    • Give virtual employees the appropriate exposure.

There is no one-size-fits-all policy: Offer workers flexibility.

Working remotely, at least some of the time, is here to stay. Workers who want flexibility are voting with their feet if it’s not offered by their organization.

  • Most surveyed organizations are addressing the shift to remote work and the return to the workplace by: 
    • Allowing hybrid work schedules: 82 percent 
    • Revising their remote work policies: 77 percent 
  • Key recommendations include: 
    • Consider whether worker preferences meet organizational goals. 
    • Organizational policies regarding scheduling and remote work may need to vary across business lines and types of employees.

“After more than a year and half of a relentless crisis that has upended conventional work arrangements for millions, workers are understandably demanding flexibility in where and when they work,” said Robin Erickson, PhD, Principal Researcher of Human Capital at The Conference Board. “Accommodating these preferences—where possible—is made all the more urgent by the recruiting and retention challenges posed by today’s competitive labor market.”

Focus on the candidate experience: Transparency and communication are key.

Today’s leading organizations succeed by delivering the best customer experience possible, and the powerful link between engaged employees and satisfied or delighted customers is well proven.

  • Organizations that want the most engaged workers need to refocus on the candidate experience (to better attract) and their employee value proposition (to better retain) talent. 
    • 79 percent of TA and HR leaders say they must change the focus of the candidate experience. 
  • Key recommendations include: 
    • Communicate with candidates frequently and transparently. 
    • Assess the satisfaction of both hired and non-hired applicants with your hiring process. 
    • Ensure that your organization’s employment brand value proposition resonates with candidates’ and employees’ needs.

Onboarding in a virtual world: Transform the onboarding process for new employees.

COVID-19 changed onboarding for employees who were working remotely.

  • Virtual onboarding has made the experience of becoming a new hire more difficult. 
    • 71 percent of surveyed workers who had taken a new job since March 2020 say they were onboarded completely virtually. 
    • Only 59 percent of those surveyed workers who had been hired into different organizations found their onboarding helpful. 
    • 58 percent of TA and HR leaders say the most difficult part of onboarding new employees is helping them to develop their networks. 
    • 52 percent of TA and HR leaders said establishing the organizational culture and values was the most difficult. 
  • Key recommendations include: 
    • Ensure that new hires understand and experience the organizational culture by including sessions on purpose and values in new hire orientations. 
    • Hold hiring managers accountable for onboarding and ensure that they check in regularly with their new employees. 
    • Monitor your new hire retention numbers as they indicate whether your onboarding is adequate.

Invest in hiring managers: Provide training and evaluation.

Hiring managers play a pivotal role in employee experience and organizations should hold them accountable for new hire retention.

  • To better retain new hires, train and evaluate hiring managers. 
    • Only 46 percent of organizations have provided additional training for hiring managers since the onset of the pandemic. 
    • 55 percent of surveyed respondents say their hiring managers do not know how to interview for soft skills. 
    • 56 percent say that hiring managers require more handholding from recruiters now than before COVID-19. 
  • Key recommendations include: 
    • Educate hiring managers about the value of alternative credentials to the development of a more diverse workforce. 
    • Provide training for hiring managers on virtual interviewing, managing a remote workforce, behavioral interviewing, effective communication, and relationship management. 
    • Recognize the risk to the success of the organization if training is not provided to hiring managers and evaluate their performance.

About The Conference Board
The Conference Board is the member-driven think tank that delivers trusted insights for what’s ahead. Founded in 1916, we are a non-partisan, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States. www.conference-board.org

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