Competition for Talent Demands Creative Strategy

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By Martin Berman-Gorvine

Many employers face talent shortages in critical areas but have the wrong strategy for dealing with them, consultants say.

“The best way to fix it is to be competitive in things like compensation, training programs and work-life balance,” Jodi Chavez, president of Atlanta-based staffing and recruitment company Randstad Professionals, told Bloomberg BNA Jan. 25.

The work-life balance issue can be especially tricky for a “more remote workplace,” she said, leading to a new trend called “hoteling,” wherein employees can work remotely from their homes, or from offices near their homes or even near where they are on vacation.

“It’s playing out well” for employers that can offer at least one of these three types of benefits, if not all three, Chavez said. “You’re seeing them improve their hiring numbers as well as their retention numbers.”

GE’s Successful Rebranding

GE is a good example of an employer with successful talent strategies, specifically employer branding, a headquarters moved closer to where the talent is and broader thinking about how to fill talent shortages, Mary Young, principal researcher at the Conference Board, told Bloomberg BNA Jan. 25.

The company’s “Owen” TV ads feature an actor playing a young, “geeky” professional who works for GE and offers successful ripostes to friends who think the company is too old-school. As these ads took effect, job applications to the company jumped by a factor of eight times and visits to its career website spiked 66 percent, Young said.

GE’s headquarters move took the company from Fairfield County, Conn., to tech-trendy Boston, where Microsoft Corp. and other big tech names also have campuses, Young said. As for broader thinking, “a senior HR executive at GE told me, ‘Sometimes, the best way to close a talent gap isn’t talent.’ That is, sometimes you need to look at those jobs and ask if they have to be done the same way or if they could be done by lower-level employees, outsourced or automated. HR is sometimes too restricted to thinking only about people.”

Other tips Young offered were:

  •  “Building relations with that talent pool before the talent pool is even looking for a job.” Young said defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. does this with active-duty military members who aren’t yet even looking for civilian jobs. The company provides them with “curated content about how you look for work,” she said.
  •  “Using external social media to develop thought leadership” and show potential applicants that the company is savvy.
  •  “Increasingly, companies will be thinking about crowdsourcing” and the possibility that they may not have to “own all the talent” but could instead partner with other employers to share it, Young said. “HR needs to think beyond the traditional solutions” in this way, she said, because “HR doesn’t really want to be cutting itself a smaller and smaller piece of the pie.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Martin Berman-Gorvine in Washington at mbermangorvine@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tony Harris at tharris@bna.com

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