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July 21, 2022

The War for Talent: What It Is and How Your Organization Can Win

The competition for talent is high in today’s marketplace. In the 2021 “Creating People Advantage Report” by the Boston Consulting Group and the World Federation of People Management Associations, talent was identified as one of three areas that required the most urgent action. While the war for talent may seem like a new concept, it has its origins in a 1997 McKinsey & Company study. In this article, we’ll look at exactly what the war on talent is and how your organization can come out on top in 2022 and beyond.

The War for Talent Explained

The phrase “the war for talent” was coined by Steven Hankin of McKinsey & Company and later explored in a book of the same name by McKinsey consultants Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, and Beth Axelrod. The authors identified a pending talent shortage that would have a significant impact on corporate performance. The original groundbreaking report urged companies to focus on their strategies for recruiting, retaining, and developing talented employees.

However, as the economy slowed down over the next few years, people assumed that talent challenges were a thing of the past. Today’s environment makes it clear that this is far from true. The war for talent is ongoing, and it is the result of multiple complex factors which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. These include:

  • A skill gap caused by rapid changes in the job market
  • Changing demographics
  • Competition from the gig economy
  • Disruptive changes in the way companies do business
  • The changing needs and expectations of workers

Challenges Associated with the War for Talent

Regardless of why it occurs, a shortage of appropriately skilled workers can lead to lower productivity, reduced employee satisfaction, and increased staff turnover.

Given these challenges, it is not surprising that for many businesses in the UK Employee retention and attrition and employee retention and attrition are front-burner issues for 2022. Cathy Geerts, chief HR officer at European HR and payroll services provider SD Worx pointed out that “to build organizational resilience and to generate true value, business leaders realize they’ll have to connect more directly and deeply with employees.”

She added that “HR needs to pull out all the stops to keep up” with employees who are seeking out a better work-life balance and looking for employers to meet their needs.

How to Win The War: Key Areas of Focus

Organizations have had to get creative when hiring while also finding innovative ways to retain existing employees. The modern workforce is made up of traditional employees, temporary workers, contractors, and gig workers. Human resources professionals need to be able to manage them all while identifying the skills the company will need in the future.

When organizations find themselves being confronted with a skills gap, they often try to recruit new workers. However, experts suggest that companies should actually focus on the people they already have in their organizations. This points to a need to put more emphasis on training employees and developing skills in-house.

In fact, Chief Executive Officer of Skillsoft Jeff Tarr says organizations have to compete with their employees’ “visions of their future selves.”

“In the war for talent, companies can thrive by investing in developing the talent they already have. We thrive by creating a culture of learning, where every employee has the opportunity to develop new skills and capabilities and is given the tools to do so,” he explains.

Upskilling and reskilling are crucial in this fast-changing, technology-driven world. Investing in your current employees costs a lot less than recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new workers. Not only can training your employees to improve their job performance and productivity, but it demonstrates that you value them. This improves morale and can even impact your company’s bottom line.

Businesses also stand to benefit significantly if they focus on:

Giving Employees More Flexibility

The traditional 9 to 5 40-hour workweek is no longer seen as the only option. Neither is a daily commute to and from the office. Employees want the option of part-time work, flexible hours, remote work, and other creative arrangements. Providing the expected flexibility makes the organization a more desirable place to work.

Creating Personalized Experiences

Winning the war for talent also requires companies to move past one-size-fits-all processes and customize the workplace experience for each individual. This can take the form of allowing unique career paths or tailoring day-to-day interactions to meet varying needs.

Building Employee Engagement

Engagement refers to the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward their work, their coworkers, and the organization. Workers who are engaged go beyond the call of duty and motivate others to do the same. Engagement affects customer experience, revenue, employee turnover, and other key measures of success.

Emphasizing Work-Life Balance and Employee Wellbeing

Today’s workers don’t see these things as luxuries or rare occurrences. They expect to have a life outside of work, and they expect their employers to contribute positively to their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Attracting and Retaining Older Workers

Many mature people either want to continue working or need to do so. Unfortunately, many of them get overlooked for training and development opportunities because of a misplaced view that they’re stuck in their ways. They are also among the first to be laid off, and often, they are forced into retirement before they’re ready. At the same time, the workforce is aging rapidly, and organizations really have no choice but to embrace them. To take full advantage of your existing talent, you need to make sure you meet the needs and expectations of your 50-plus workers. Otherwise, you’ll lose them to organizations that see their value.

Improve Your People Management with Help from WiseForce Advisors

It’s quite likely that you already have the employees who can give you the competitive edge you seek. However, you need to understand and engage them if you want them to deliver for you. At WiseForce Advisors, we specialize in age management. We can help you to leverage the unique skills of mature employees. Reach out to us at info@wiseforceadvisors.com to book a consultation.