Are You Capitalizing On the Talent of Your New Hires?

By Christina Cleveland, Canadian Management Centre

Imagine you’re out shopping and you stumble across a new shirt or blouse that you really like. It costs $75, a little more than you’d want to spend, but regardless, you decide to try it on. It fits pretty well. You like the way it looks. You’re thinking you want to buy it. And so you start to look for ways to rationalize the investment. You consider what else you have in your closet you can pair it with. You start running through the possibilities of where you’ll wear it. You convince yourself that you really don’t have anything else like it. So you decide to commit. That was a decent amount of reflection and consideration for a $75 investment. So why aren’t we applying that kind of analytical rigour to evaluate how we can maximize the talent of new employees at the outset? Especially when the cost of hiring a new employee can be in excess of $10,000?

When a hiring manager approaches us with approval for headcount, we start the process of recruiting by beginning with the job description. We ask ourselves: What do we need this role to contribute? What skills and characteristics are most essential? What kind of candidate will ‘fit’ with the team? We transition to posting the job and screening through the applicants. We end up eliminating those we feel have too much experience and may be overqualified for the role. We discard those who don’t have enough experience because we want someone to ‘hit the ground running’. And finally, the small pool that remains are those we believe have skills that are ‘just right’ for the position. And while that may give us a solution today, that level of thinking is short-sighted and could limit the future opportunity for your organization.

Finding top talent can be difficult, retaining them can be even more challenging. Expectations for the employment relationship have gone far beyond a paycheque for work completed and our total rewards strategies have evolved to be more competitive to attract new talent. But to retain talent, we must invest in their potential and create a compelling career path. This should start from the minute they’re hired and when done well, will pay dividends in performance and retention.

The Benefits of Building Your Talent Internally

  • Talent Development is Critical to the Employee Experience: Forbes says the Employee Experience is the Future of Work. Websites like Glassdoor.com are holding companies accountable for differentiating themselves as an employer of choice and investments in Talent Development are a key part of that. Employees want to know that what they’re doing matters and that their skills are is being used to make a meaningful contribution. They’re also looking for opportunities to grow and expand beyond their current role. Those who believe their organization has a vested interest in their careers are more likely to stay.

  • It’s a Retention Strategy: One of the top reasons employees leave organizations is too few growth and advancement opportunities. It would appear we could benefit from re-defining what ‘growth opportunities’ look like. Today’s workforce doesn’t only look at growth as climbing the corporate ladder. Rather, they crave opportunities to learn a new skill, take risks on new ideas, be the lead on a project, deliver a key presentation, attend a conference, or to be mentored by a more senior employee. When you show a clear preference to build your talent internally and hire from within, employees will be more open to defining a career path and growing with you.
  • You’ll Save Time and Money: Not only do you save the cost of a new hire; you’ll maximize your investment in the employee. By building your internal pipeline of talent, you retain organizational knowledge, reduce the time required for on-boarding, and can advance the employee’s contribution faster. You also build employee loyalty to the organization which further secures your investment in that individual and in your reputation as an employer of choice.

Of course, there are some positions where you simply don’t have the talent to develop inside your organization or those who may not be ready to fill an immediate need. Or perhaps you’re looking at bringing in some entry-level employees. In these situations, as you turn to recruit externally you want to encourage hiring managers to act with an enterprise mindset and reflect on questions like: Where else could the candidate add the most value? How can they contribute? What experience do they bring that we’re lacking? What can we offer them in terms of development and stretch opportunities? What can we see this candidate doing in the next 2 years?

These questions start to expand the dialogue into a candidate’s potential and create a launching point for employee growth and development inside your organization.

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