Eight Ways to Attract and Retain Top Talent

In recent years, the uncertain economy forced companies to limit hiring and also caused executives and managers to stay in place at their current employers. Now, the improving economic conditions combined with continuing globalization has caused the war for management talent to heat up. Top talent in engineering, finance, and sales has consistently been in demand, but now that the economy has improved, we have seen the trend accelerate and expand to other areas as well. Three forces are at work here: increased globalization, which means companies with offices around the world are competing for U.S. talent; fewer people in Generation X, the 35- to 53-year old age range traditionally pegged for management roles, due to overall population demographics; and by 2020, there will be more people in retirement than in the work force worldwide. In essence, more companies will draw from a shrinking pool, forcing them to compete for fewer people who are considered top talent. We already see this trend playing out locally in executive searches at a number of our clients. Turnover is increasing, talent is harder to attract (and usually has multiple opportunities) and aggressive counter offers are becoming common place. By 2020, according to a Harvard Business Review study, there will be more people at retirement age than entering the work force in many areas throughout the world--the U.S., Europe, Russia, Canada, South Korea and China. This has the potential to accelerate the trends we're beginning to see today. What's a CEO to do to? A big part of the answer is to focus on these eight suggestions, related to both retention and attracting additional talent:                                                                                                                         1.  Have a Succession Plan. Develop a clear line of succession for the most critical positions within your organization so you're prepared for the planned (or unplanned) turnover. 2.  Be aware of the local talent market and continuously recruit by building a network of potential hires and by staying connected with them. You may be able to make an offer to fill a position sooner than you think if one of your current leaders retires or moves on. 3.  Recruit for potential, not just skills and experience. Technology is changing the world so rapidly that companies need resilient leaders who can rapidly adapt. Look for high-potential leaders with curiosity, motivation and high emotional intelligence to become the problem solvers and market-makers of the future. 4.   Understand your corporate culture and be on the lookout for people who fit it - they'll have a higher likelihood of success. Every organization has a culture, whether it is actively promoted or implemented through default. 5.  Make sure you have effective training, education and career path pipeline initiatives. Identify younger talent and begin training future leaders by giving them stretch assignments. 6.  Ensure that compensation is in line with the local market and your industry.  Also consider things like a flexible vacation policy. Most high-performing professionals don't take all their vacation time anyway but having a flexible and generous policy seems to be becoming more important. 7.  Manage your company brand so it is attractive to potential hires. Be aware of how your company may be perceived through employee reviews and in social media. 8.  Recognize good work and identify employees to congratulate them on jobs well done. Rewarding managers and employees with even minor items like gift cards or humorous items improves relationships and reinforces a positive corporate culture within your organization. At Gilman Partners, we have implemented all of the above while also promoting them to our clients. We have new offices and started our own succession planning process by adding three partners to our leadership team during the last two years. We take pride in helping clients find the best executives, managers and key individual contributors to fit their talent needs and corporate cultures.