Companies always have boasted that their people are their most important asset and the source of their greatest competitive advantage. And while that may be true, for much of the last decade organizations rarely were forced to compete for talent the way they fight for customers. That all began to change several years ago, as work became more technical, collaborative, and specialized. COVID-19 has temporarily eased the talent crunch, but it already is showing signs of returning as the curve flattens and more and more states reopen. To attract and keep employees and contingent workers, successful firms of the future must approach their workforce assets strategically, building their brand as talent-centric hiring organizations.
The Talent/Strategy Nexus
As the economy rekindles post-COVID-19, the need to access top talent will resume. Before the pandemic, business leaders considered recruiting and retaining the right combination of talent their greatest challenge. With so many qualified candidates on the market, your organization has the opportunity to align its workforce to optimize your roster of skilled workers. Taking a talent-centric approach allows you to assign the precise mix of abilities to the most important projects. Allocating talent – whether traditional employees or contingent workers – creates a more dynamic view of work and a more efficient use of resources.
With a talent pool that corresponds to your firm’s critical tasks, it becomes less rigid and more responsive to worker needs and balance. Getting there requires a different approach to work tasks. Fortunately, that required mindset shift relates well to the changing nature of work itself. By altering the way you think about work and its relationship with talent, you can design your workflow and workforce to be better organized and make the best use of remote workers, technical advances, and productivity enhancements. The key is to view work and workforce in tandem. In some cases, it may be beneficial to shape future hires to conform to the way your company operates. But in other cases, you may achieve better results by reforming, repackaging, or re-imagining work tasks to match the talent you have available.
Breaking Bad Habits
Becoming a talent-centric organization nudges companies away from traditional notions of work and human resources management:
- Stacked Ranking – Comparing and arranging workers within departments based on “objective” skills assessments or supervisor evaluations creates a divisive and unhealthily competitive environment. Stacked or “forced” ranking creates a hierarchy among workers. Not only will this incline people who should be teammates to compete against each other, but it also treats workers like mere inputs.
- Micromanagement – Work is becoming less linear and more individualized. Seldom outside a few manufacturing jobs does a supervisor oversee a crew of workers performing the same task or working on the same component of a project at the same time and in the same space. The old-school focus on meeting rigid deadlines, quarterly quotas, and monthly sales targets is not talent-centric. Flatter organizational charts foster innovation, creativity, and contributions from every source.
- Irrelevant Metrics – The increase in the number of workers doing their jobs remotely due to COVID-19 is changing the way performance is measured. The old way, with its rigid job descriptions and reward structure, stifles imagination and strangles workers’ initiative. It pressures them to work faster and longer because “how many” and “how much” are the key worker outputs that are measured. Employers waste talent by pigeonholing workers in jobs and methods the company has always used, rather than allowing them to flourish in roles that match their skills and provoke their enthusiasm.
The better way considers workers’ priorities and how companies can meet those needs in order to keep morale and performance at high levels. Talent-centric approaches find ways to format tasks, processes, policies, dynamics, and work relationships to make jobs and freelance gigs more rewarding and engaging. There are several tactics for creating a talent-centric workplace:
- Alignment – Align your corporate culture with a management and recruitment style that values talent and the people who possess it. Everyone from the CEO, to HR, to the list of directors and supervisors should be trained to embrace mentorship and opportunity for workers to reach their potential.
- Strategy – Your people strategy should not just correspond to your business strategy; it should become your business strategy. The ultimate goal is business success as measured through profitability, but the key intermediate stage is worker happiness and engagement. Achieve it by praising workers for extraordinary work and developing them for future business needs by advancing and extending their skills.
- Relationships – Talent-centric organizations forge close ties among workers and team leaders. Supervisors and managers, not HR, take the lead in identifying skills gaps and assigning the proper mix of talents to accomplish critical tasks. As front-line leaders, supervisors should be accountable for performance and worker dynamics.
- Comfort – We are not talking about doing away with dress codes – though a relaxed atmosphere can be a talent-centric attribute. A more tangible talent-centric priority involves making workers feel comfortable taking chances, expressing their entrepreneurial spirit, and making suggestions for policy and workflow improvements. Establish open lines of communication; perhaps offer financial incentives for suggestions that save the company money or make it more efficient.
- Diversity – For the free exchange of ideas to have an impact, those ideas must be delivered by people with a range of perspectives, experiences, and cultures. The best hiring organizations take pains to ensure their talent focus is on workers’ inherent strengths and that employees have a greater say in the company’s direction and their own career paths.
Attracting the best talent available has never been more critical. Companies that succeed in emerging from the COVID-19-induced recession must treat talented individuals as strategic resources. Finding, engaging, and retaining them requires a renovation of workplace practices to demonstrate their value to your operation. You cannot afford to manage workers using outdated, HR-centric methods that do not consider the impact of morale, life balance, and comfort on productivity and profit.
Metasys can help your company position itself as a talent-centric organization. We can show you how to support talented people, employ them in optimal situations, and manage them to their full potential. Contact Metasys today and let us show you how to build and leverage a strategic talent advantage over your competitors.