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How Can Companies Avoid the Challenges of Talent Churn

By Tony Golley on 17/02/2017 - 0 Comments

The area of talent recruitment and management is one of the most critical areas facing any business. As business grows the challenges faced typically become more complex, due largely in part to the number of additional staff and layers of management. The reality is that staff will always at some point want to move on and so challenges in talent management must be faced.

Jim Collins is one of the most influential writers in this area as he tries to identify why some companies consistently outperform their competitors in terms of financial performance. His book ‘Good to Great’ has become a bestseller and sets out the operational practices, behaviours and attitudes of staff that are key to the ‘good to great’ transition.

One underlying theme of his work is how to define a business in terms of a narrow area of competency of business strength and then to focus all areas of companies resources around this. A key area of this is recruitment – getting the ‘right people on the bus’ is a key strength of the companies that are high performers.

This article sets out some tips to try to achieve this.

Finding the right employees is no easy task. Research conducted by more than 3,300 HR professionals in February 2016 from companies of various sizes and from different sectors found that there is an increasing challenge in finding candidates, and this is particularly acute in specific sectors such manufacturing, food services and retail sectors.

Typical reasons being cited for this in the survey include, low number of applicants, lack of relevant work experience and skills required, and competition from other employers for the limited pool of ‘qualified’ candidates.

A shortage of candidates with the right skill sets was highlighted as one of the key areas with many candidates lacking soft skills such as problem-solving, interpersonal skills, communication, teamwork and leadership. No surprises that the jobs that are the most difficult to fill are those that require more exacting skill sets such as for skilled trades people, engineers, IT and computer specialists or high skilled technicians.

UK tech firm Dyson reported on Feb 16th that they were opening up a new $400m research centre in Singapore, and said this move was in part because of the lack of qualified scientists and engineers in Britain.

Of most concern, the research found that the most common basic skills shortages that employers found were:

This compares to the top two basic skills shortages identified as being:

Facing these challenges, how can the area of recruitment be best managed to avoid such pitfalls? At ICON Business Solutions, our consulting systems have now been used to help over 7,000 businesses, and from our experience we can offer the following guidance.

1. Have a robust Succession Plan in place

This plan should identify key internal candidates that can replace layers of functional responsibility for all areas of the business from finance, to sales and marketing. The appraisal system becomes an excellent tool to help harmonise worker aspirations with the gaps in the business that may appear in the short and long term. Inevitably there will be skills shortages which will then place emphasis on training.

Being more creative in this process by communicating opportunities throughout the business may encourage those you least expect to apply. Human resources are much like the earth’s resources, they are buried deep beneath the surface and you have to make an effort to discover them. With a robust training programme in place this may be the most effective way to recruit for the ‘hard-to-fill’ roles to ‘plug’ any potential skill gaps.

Cost of training may be considerably lower when compared to the costs of recruitment, and risks of not getting the right person on-board. In addition, such a recruitment policy can also be very motivational for candidates that may be identified as being suitable for being ‘fast tracked’.

Faced with a lack of suitable internal candidates there will be no other alternative other than to start a recruitment campaign. Suggestions in manging an external recruitment campaign are to:

2. Be precise about who you are and who you need

Taking time out to clear identify what and who you are as a business and your key strengths will prove invaluable as this will need to be communicated onwards to candidates and potential agencies. Matching individuals to fit with the soft areas of company culture are as important as the hard skills required for the job.

3. Have a recruitment plan

Define this in terms of how you plan to recruit, from where, who is responsible at each stage and how can you define criteria for evaluating candidates. Initial search choices can be conducted via a myriad of on-line tools such as or via agencies, or through direct approach to candidates currently working for competitors. Having a completed job specification and description of the job is essential as this is used to help define the shortlist to be interviewed.

4. Encourage every employee to help with recruitment

Workers within the company may already be aware of people within competitors companies or internal candidates that may be suitable. They may also be useful in helping recruit as it is likely that the best people to recruit sales people, are those within the existing sales function.

The same will apply for any functional area – as recruitment should not be left solely to the preserve of HR.

5. Have a precise recruitment process

Once a shortlist of candidates is prepared then interviews (whether on-line or face to face) should compare the skills and attributes of candidates objectively. Having a scoring system to evaluation performance against a defined set of criteria will minimise the risk of subjective bias.

If there is one key theme to take from this is to have a process, whether recruiting internally or externally. By having a plan and anticipating potential skills and manpower gaps can you minimise any potential disruption to business.

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