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Human Resources

Vincent Belliveau (Europe) - Attracting and Retaining Talent in Competitive Global Markets (Part 2)

This is part two of Vincent Belliveau's series on IT careers in Europe - read part one here.

Employers recognize that it is increasingly difficult to find good candidates with the right skills.  At the same time, they are acutely aware of the dangers to business performance and continuity if key employees leave the organization. In short, recruitment and retention is becoming ever more important, but what some organizations do not realize is that the definition of a mission critical employee has changed.  In the past this meant top executives, but in today’s flatter organizational structures and knowledge-driven economy, a key employee may be someone with networking skills and relationships, innovative flair, or technological or market knowledge, who sits well below executive level.

Taking a holistic approach

This is forcing organizations to take a more holistic view of talent management and succession planning.  Once the preserve of top executives and nominated high flyers, effective organizations are now more likely to apply these practices across all employees. This in turn can have a beneficial impact on attracting and retaining talent.  In the absence of traditional career “ladders”, existing and potential employees look for employers who offer opportunities for self-actualization and lateral as well as vertical career development. An organization with such a reputation may find it easier to recruit and retain employees even if it is not offering market-leading remuneration packages.

However, it is essential that the organization does more than pay lip service to these practices – employees will soon recognize and ultimately leave an organization that does not “walk the talk”. A key factor for success is empowering employees to take control of their own career development through the use of technologies like self-service talent management systems with powerful learning and development capabilities. Such systems help develop and groom high potential employees at all levels of the organization, enabling individual employees and managers to identify targeted programs to help them advance their careers. Employees can build and maintain an online CV, outlining their mobility or career preferences, helping managers to recognize and respond to those aspirations.

Similarly, career paths should be clearly mapped on the system, detailing the skills and experience required to move into each particular role. This helps employees proactively identify the opportunities available to them and what they need to do to make each move.  These career paths should be developed with real insight into the skills and capabilities that are needed within the organization, in line with business objectives – dovetailing the needs of both parties.

Look beyond the obvious

The skills shortage is also forcing organizations to be more creative in how they look at existing and potential employees. A candidate may not have the right technical skills for a particular position, but such skills may be taught. Other attributes such as a positive attitude, tenacity, determination, a track record of success, leadership qualities and an ability and willingness to learn can be equally important. In fact, organizations operate in fast-moving global markets where flexible attributes can be much more important in the course of the employee’s career life cycle than job-specific skills. It is essential to factor such thinking into job descriptions so potentially excellent candidates do not self-select out of applying.

Of course, such strategies do not mean the organization can neglect the importance of offering a competitive remuneration package or advertising for candidates through the most appropriate internal and external channels. Nevertheless, aligning existing or potential employees’ career aspirations with the business’ priorities leads to much stronger talent readiness and organizational capability. This can deliver a step-change in the company’s performance and some security in the continued turbulence of the global economy that is much sought-after by employees.

By Vincent Belliveau, Cornerstone OnDemand’s SVP & General Manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

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