A CHRO’s guide to tactfully bridging the talent gap

Don’t we know it. Employers everywhere are looking to combat turnover and hire at a rapid pace.

The demand for talent drastically exceeds the skills available across industries, creating a hard-to-overcome hurdle for leaders nationwide. In fact, today 87% of leaders say they currently have skill gaps within their organizations – or expect to within a few years.

But as employers scramble to attract, hire, and ultimately retain talent, many are driving up salaries for top candidates to beat out potential competitors. While this strategy may get talent through the door in the short term, many employees are acknowledging that another key offering from an organization can influence satisfaction and the desire to stay after the flashy salary price tag has worn off: recognition. In fact, two-thirds of employees said feeling recognized would decrease their desire to look for a new job.

That’s why I believe leaders need to be thoughtful about how and why they’re hiring a candidate, opposed to simply meeting the headcount.

When hiring and retaining is done in a purpose-driven manner, businesses can better attract employees with the right value add.

But while it’s impossible to solve the talent gap overnight (or even in one calendar year), the following tactics should be institutionalized:

1) Proactively target passive job candidates

Globally, two-thirds (66%) of employees are considering finding a new job in 2022. This is on top of the half (49%) of employees that had already looked for a new job during the pandemic. To me this simply means the majority of the workforce is open to, if not already seeking, new opportunities. Recruitment teams should take advantage of this, by targeting the people they want to pursue. They should be, sharing high-level information beyond the description of responsibilities and skills and offering an introductory conversation for the company and role itself. And this isn’t just a job for HR anymore. Via LinkedIn and email, all leaders should be engaging with passive candidates. By doing so, the brand will be top-of mind for job seekers before they even really begin their widespread job hunt. Given employers and candidates are increasingly making decisions hastily, this solution is critical as it allows both sides to be better informed and quicker when the time is right.

2) It’s not enough to just recognize employees – it needs to be meaningful

CHROs are familiar with recognition but need to take it one step further – by looking at meaningful recognition. This form of recognition is more structured and it results in significant business outcomes. Traditional recognition might be a simple “thanks” or “good job” but research conducted by the Achievers Workforce Institute also finds that meaningful recognition is specific, personalized, and takes into account the impact of the behavior. When asked, 64% of employees said they’d prefer more meaningful recognition as opposed to more frequent recognition. And, almost half (42%) of employees ranked social recognition as more important than frequent low-monetary recognition and infrequent high-monetary recognition. So, while salaries and fair pay are still crucial, recognition drives productivity, engagement, and belonging – all of which contribute to the bottom line. Getting some kudos is nice but we’re learning that it’s meaningful recognition that influences, motivates, and engages employees.

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 3) Scrap the role description

Today, only 21% of employees describe themselves as ‘very engaged’ and alarmingly, this lack of engagement impacts numerous aspects of business performance – everything from employee retention to a company’s bottom line. Given employees want to feel seen and supported, leaders must take the initiative to mold career paths to fit employees’ individual wants and skills, instead of laying out the role they need to fill and highlighting the skillsets they will pick up. Everyone’s career journey is unique to them, and employers must embrace their staff’s curiosity. As leaders look to fight complacency and continue to drive company momentum, they should consider rolling out initiatives that encourage ongoing professional development. By creating opportunities for continuous learning, employees will be able to explore new avenues at their company and potentially find aptitude for another department, uplifting the organization as a whole while boosting retention.

4) Don’t just show the money; show a future

Job seekers have already revealed that finding opportunities for promotion and growth was the top reason they planned to job hunt in 2022. So in today’s job market, employers must make talent development a top priority by openly and proactively communicating potential opportunities for promotion and growth right out of the gate. For instance, leaders can create personalized career plans during the interview process to illustrate their intent to invest in their staff’s career journey in the long term.  Most individuals are evaluating what they want and need from their job, and many are looking for roles that better fulfill and challenge them both personally and professionally. And if you want to make sure those future goals are truly aligned, reinforce those behaviors through great recognition.

Remember, employees are now in the recruitment and retention driving seat and in response, businesses need to level-up their company offerings, with a focus on recognition and employee investment. While navigating the new world of work has been an undeniable challenge, it should at least have allowed outdated business practices to be got rid of. The workforce is ever changing, but to continue to evolve in the right direction, the talent gap needs to be minimized – and done so strategically.

 

By: Hannah Yardley, Chief People and Culture Officer at Achievers

Hannah is a talent leader with more than 20 years' experience consulting to a variety of global organizations in the areas of talent strategy, operational excellence, and cultural transformations. As CHRO at Achievers her mandate is to empower employee success through all facets, employee engagement, organizational effectiveness, organization development, and talent strategy.

 

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