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Feb 21, 2014

Depending on who you speak to, there is a talent war going on and every employer should be gathering up their troops to battle for the best and brightest.

While I don’t disagree that there are still some highly sought after professionals that are hard to get, particularly in technical fields, I don’t see this said talent shortage/war being true in general.

What I have seen is great talent who are no longer passive but now actively open to any and all conversations surrounding new opportunities. I see those top performers as ready to have conversations about their next move, but employers being ill-equipped to receive them.

What do I mean?

This means that many of the employers speaking about the talent shortage are really spreading workforce propaganda and are in fact the root of the problem when it comes to the talent discussion.

All employers want the best and brightest at their company, yet not all of them are diligent enough in how they attract, assess, develop and retain that talent. They want the finest selection of talent, but offer up salary, development, and benefits that don’t begin to compensate or reward the efforts of quality professionals.

There are various types of workers needed to keep your organization afloat.

  • You have the top performers who will do what they are expected and offer up ideas, skills, and abilities above and beyond what you ask of them. These are your current and future leaders.
  • You have your operational people who will be on time, do what is asked of them, and nothing more. They’re not overly concerned about upward mobility or development-just pay them for an honest day’s work and you will have them for the long haul.
  • Lastly, you have those that will do less than what you expect and require a lot of hand-holding. These are the people who do just enough to keep you off their backs, but are not adding much to your workforce in terms of engagement and productivity.

When you think about what you want the makeup of your employee ecosystem to be, it isn’t likely that you want to attract or retain the latter kind of people. Everyone is aiming for the best! You want those professionals that are self-motivated, productive, and ready to push the company agenda ahead.

A return on effort

While it’s great that you are clear on what you want, are you as clear on what will attract and retain what you seek?

The talent is there. They are open to conversation and helping you solve your business problems, but it comes at a price.

Just as you expect ROI on your investment in them; they expect that you provide opportunities for growth, benefits, fair market value pay in return for their efforts.

It’s called “return on effort.” This is where you get what you need from the employee, and you in turn provide proper remuneration for their deliverables.

Be honest

Do you have the budget or resources to garner the talent you seek?

This is an important consideration for all businesses. If the answer is “yes,” your only worry is the strategy in getting and keeping them. If “the answer is no,” you have both a budget concern and work to do in terms of figuring out how you fairly and equitably distribute what you can; plus continuing to attract and retain talent despite a shortfall.

This is not an easy task, but it may require you to be honest with current employees as well as new hires as to what you can really offer. Some may still join or remain with you through the struggle, while others may flee. The point is it’s time employers stop selling grown adults on ideals and fluff that may never come to fruition.

Be cognizant of what you can offer as an employer and admit your shortcomings. Talent gaps and shortage may be real, but it isn’t the full story.

This was originally publised on Janine Truitt’s The Aristocracy of HR blog.