Overcome Challenges in Engaging and Recruiting Critical Skilled Talent with HR Technology

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Organizations are concerned about having the right talent to achieve business success. This involves a plethora of processes: engagement for recruiting and bringing on board the talent which includes attracting them in the first place.

Talent attraction and retention is more difficult

It’s getting harder and harder for organizations to attract the talent that they need. Talent attraction is rising up the list of organizational priorities. Towers Watson—a global advisory, broking and solutions company—a a couple of years back said that almost three in four organizations were reporting difficulty in attracting critical skilled employees, and that more than half of them reported difficulties in retaining them. Sixty percent of companies cited leadership skills as the talent gap to cover and their top business challenge. Over half of the executives saw critical functions in their ability to recruit into the senior managerial roles that they were going to need in the in the coming years.

Recently we conducted a webinar on attracting and recruiting to address the talent gap within organizations and absolutely no one polled in the webinar audience was able to claim that their organization found critical talent attraction and retention “very easy” or even “easy”. Instead we witnessed the opposite, with a split about 75% of the participants saying that “it’s moderately difficult” and remaining 25% saying “it’s very difficult” to attract and retain talent in their organizations. These figures align with the much of the work done by PwC, the Boston Consulting Group and other researchers who found this is the same across the board regardless of geography or sector.

So the difficulties are not just about engagement management, talent attraction and recruitment, but also covering critical talent gaps now and in the future, as well as retention. How are organizations reacting to this reality? Organizations are responding in a variety of ways to overcome these hurdles.

Long term strategic talent management with C-level endorsement

First of all, organizations are recognizing they need to be much more strategic. In the past it may have been sufficient to address talent issues at an operational level, but not anymore: Today we’re seeing how talent management is being elevated to a strategic level. CEOs and executive teams across organizations include talent issues on their agendas when they speak about their top priorities. As a result strategic planning in organizations now also includes future forecasting of needs. Likewise, organizations are trying to understand what are the critical talent groups and which ones are really differentiators, whether business goals are achieved or not. Strategically organizations must know how they are measuring talent and how they are analyzing where the best talent comes from. This involves developing a much more long term strategic approach to talent management which is owned by CEO and HR and deployed throughout their organizations.

In short, CEOs and HR are taking a tighter grip together on their talent management strategy using the latest technologies available in the HR field which make this possible.

Segmenting diversity into distinct talent groups for better management

The second trend that we are observing is a willingness to differentiate between different talent groups in acknowledgement of the talent diversity in terms of performance and potential within the organization. Instead of applying a blanket approach and saying, “We will dedicate this resource to all of our employees regardless of which talent pool they are in”, organizations are now recognizing that it makes strategic sense to segment this diversity and differentiate groups according to how employees perform and what gaps they have that need to be corrected.

HR technology offers a handy tool for this purpose, the “nine-box grid” or even the “twelve-box grid” to evaluate an organization’s talent pool. The “nine-box grid” is a matrix type tool that measures and plots employees against two vectors, performance on the x axis and potential on the y axis. This “9-box grid” is divided up into 9 quadrants or segmented talent pools to represent combinations of low, average and high performance with low, average and high potential.

Organizations should use this tool to go further when reviewing their talent force. Then need to be able to identify which groups of talent have the biggest impact on their results. Why? They need to treat these talent groups differently to ensure retention as well as maximize their potential. They need to figure out what motivates them, what attracts them and what demotivates them.

Even though organizations now have the means to segment diversity into different talent groups and analyze them, they still need to understand that different groups will behave differently with different organizational stimulus. The organization’s ability to say, “We will handle people differently depending on their talents” will lead organizations to make quite different decisions on the actions to carry out for each of these groups and individuals. Ultimately this will set organizations apart from their competitors as they will in practice be making the most of their best asset: their talent.

 To learn more on how this “nine-box grid” and the talent review process helps organizations overcome the challenges discussed, click here.

Global HR for a globally consistent approach to talent management

Another key trend is much more consistency across global organizations through the adoption of global HR management. Just a few years ago it would have been much more normal to see global multinational organizations using very diverse approaches to talent management depending on the regions or the countries where the organization operated. Clearly the disadvantage of such a multipronged approach is that it makes it so much more difficult for talent to move globally, for building organization-wide awareness of opportunities worldwide, or to talk about talent in a way that’s globally understood and measured by all organizational stakeholders. Today organizations are moving away from such approaches to something far more unified and useful. They are increasingly embracing global HR management for a globally consistent approach to how they manage their talent.

A future-focused talent strategy and practice

Then finally, we are noticing that organizations are adopting a much more future focused strategy. Once they have started to use Global HR management to easily address some of the more immediate challenges in talent attraction, recruitment, engagement and retention as briefly discussed above, they can start to plan for the future in ways not possible before.

So thanks to HR technology in place, organizations no longer need to urgently focus on “I need to fill the needs of today” or “I need to fill my vacancies”. Instead organizations free up to explore ways of improving talent management through ideas like talent pools and ask themselves, “Can I build relationships now with potential candidates?” or “Can I use some pre-screening assessments?”

In fact organizations can take talent attraction, recruitment and engagement to new levels with new technologies. For example, organizations can invest in nurturing strong candidates by enthusing about the organization, building strategic alliances with online communities and social media groups in order to align these people to our organization even before they become applicants. Similarly, organizations can improve talent retention through how how employees are engaged and how their potential is nurtured.

Succession planning into the future gaining traction

As a natural progression from analyzing the 9-grid box, we are also witnessing a rise in the importance of succession planning to avoid lost opportunities and the vulnerability of having talent gaps in critical jobs.

Just being able to select any population and seeing how talent distributes within the quadrants of the “nine-grid box” already provides some clues as to what the risks are for succession. It is easier than ever to see who is likely to leave the company and who is underperforming due to talent gaps. This means that organizations can begin to consider planning and managing the succession of the pipeline.

Of course, talent metrics is yet another area of interest which also helps to improve on these challenges but they are outside the scope of this article.


The bottom line is that increasingly organizations need to be long-term and strategic. Organizations need to understand which are the critical groups and talent. Likewise they need to be consistent in their approach globally across their talent force. Moreover they need to both look to the future and be prepared for the future.

HR technology solutions abound for overcoming the modern challenges of talent attraction, recruitment, engagement, retention as well as succession planning. They can also offer a recommended tool like the “nine-grid box” matrix to go in deeper to review talent diversity, differentiate talent groups and identify talent gaps.

To learn more on how all this comes together and helps organizations overcome these challenges and make better strategic decisions, watch this video



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