Intellectual Capital

Winning with talent

Strategies for attracting and keeping the best people

The strength of an organization rests on the quality of its people. But finding and keeping the best people doesn't just happen. It's the product of smart thinking and careful planning both on strategic and tactical levels. Here are five key steps in the talent-planning process:

1. Define talent requirements

The process of defining talent needs grows out of business goals and the skills needed to achieve them. In mapping out a plan to meet impending talent demands, you'll need to determine: your current talent's capacity to meet these demands without significant retraining; the extent to which your current, internal talent pipeline can be adapted to meet these new requirements; and gaps that will need to be filled by attracting new talent from external sources.

2. Identify talent

Everybody in your organization can be a talent scout, and often the talent you need for a key job is right under your nose. Most human resource information systems have search functions that make it easy to identify personnel with the set of attributes and experience you seek. In addition, a comprehensive talent acquisition effort should tap major online sourcing tools, such as LinkedIn®, CareerBuilder and Indeed.com. External recruiting professionals may also play a vital role, particularly when executive or highly advanced and specialized skills and experience are sought.

3. Assess and select the individuals you want

Take advantage of testing systems, which can be grouped into those seeking to determine the cultural fit and those evaluating technical competence. And when candidates have cleared the initial winnowing hurdle, there is no substitute for behavioral interviewing techniques.

4. Acquire and deploy

To attract the job candidates you want, keep the concept of "total compensation" in mind. That embraces both tangible forms of pay, such as salary and core employee benefits, as well as all other resources available to employees intended to make them want to work—and keep working—for you. For example, some employees are willing to take a modest cut in pay in exchange for greater flexibility in their work schedule or more vacation days.

In recent years, most employers have come to recognize the importance of new employee onboarding programs that not only orient new hires to the practical aspects of their jobs and work environments, but align them with your expectations, vision and values.

5. Retain the talent

Onboarding can get new talent off to a strong start. But ensuring valued employees remain with you and stay motivated and productive for the long haul requires additional efforts. Employees assign varying values to various job attributes and forms of compensation. For that reason, maintaining an ongoing dialogue with workers about their performance, goals and expectations is perhaps the most critical factor in assuring their retention.

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