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The war for talent

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What is this war? Is it something new? How can we fight it?

To be successful and meet their objectives, companies increasingly require well-trained professionals and or those with superb skills and capabilities. Since the demand for the best talent is so high, higher than the supply, a veritable “war for talent” has been unleashed among organizations. Companies desperately need to bring in the best talent and will do whatever it takes to achieve it, including trying to “poach” talent from their competitors by offering impressive benefits. That often leads to a “merry-go-round” where the same professional jumps from one company to another with better and better offers, sometimes even returning to the first one, but for a much higher salary than when they left.

Companies or organizations seek to attract those people best qualified to work for them, but it does not only mean getting them to work with them but also keeping them, motivating them, and achieving a sense of loyalty and alignment with the company’s objectives which are increasingly difficult to achieve. There are several ways in which employers can “acquire” these talents, either by creating and cultivating them themselves over time, on job boards, or even stealing them from similar companies by offering better incentives; everything is valid.

These incentives have diversified in contrast to those offered years ago, which were limited to salary amounts. Today, those incentives translate to longer vacation days, food and beverage facilities, gym memberships, medical support, access to language courses, job training, pet-friendly office environments (where pets are accepted), flexible schedules, and possibilities to work remotely, among many others. All those incentives aim to get a better work-life balance, increasing the attractiveness of companies for their talents who are now looking for much more than just a good salary.

That is nothing new, it has been discussed in numerous essays, interviews, conferences, and books on this subject; one of the most prominent is the book “The war for talent” by Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, and Beth Axelrod in 2001, where we can see that for more than 20 years now this subject has been discussed and although some of its bases may have changed or evolved over the years, it is clear that the central themes remain as the backbone of this work that talks about talent management, which is a joint task of Human Resources and Senior Management, unwaveringly, since most of the problems come when this significant task is left only to the Human Resources department.

Human talent is one of the fundamental pillars of any business and, at once, one of the scarcest assets. For this reason, we can increasingly observe that the priorities of companies are adapting to meet the needs of their talent to retain them and not the other way around, as was the norm decades ago. It can be observed in personnel at all levels, not only in senior positions but from management to operational positions in the organization.

There are many reasons why true talent is scarce, but we must understand them to create strategies to combat and manage them as best we can. Some of the most relevant are:

Generational differences:

Values, aspirations, and life goals have changed to a large extent in the last 50 and even 30 years. The rise of technologies has opened up new work areas that did not exist before, which has caused new generations to change their priorities. They are no longer so willing to go through years of studies, training, internships, and low-paying jobs in the hope of being rewarded with promotions and pensions in the long term when their options have opened up and diversified. Those with higher levels of talent are highly dissatisfied with traditional job conditions and are looking for alternatives of self-employment to become independent or even entrepreneurial, seeking better personal and family conditions, often even sacrificing part of their income.

Increase in jobs:

There has been a significant increase in the need for talent by companies, and the supply of talent has not only not increased but, in many cases, has decreased. This situation has created a greater demand for these highly valued assets due to their scarcity.

Unattractive employers:

Once the business has attracted talent, it needs to keep it, and that is where the importance of a joint effort between Human Resources to attract talent and Senior Management to retain it comes in. When the leaders of an organization are more focused on short-term goals and quick and easy profits, they often achieve these at the expense of their employees and their talent, which can affect their customers and, in the end, even their investors. In these environments, where employees feel used and exploited, it is not possible to create bonds of trust and much less loyalty to the business.

By understanding these reasons, we can have a more global view of the situation and how to deal with it. One of the best ways that the largest companies have found is by building their talent, understanding and taking care of the people they already have, helping them to grow, supporting them when they need it, encouraging them, and inspiring their personal and professional growth, because these cannot be separated in the present world.

Organizations must know the strengths and weaknesses of their employees. All people are different and have a great potential to contribute; if this potential is channeled and supported correctly, the evolution can be enormous. Helping employees grow in their professional careers is helping the company grow in the medium and long term. People want to feel secure and valued. Human Resources cannot take care of everything; the administration and, in general, the leaders of the organization are also an indispensable part.

Improving the employer brand is another excellent way to attract talent; a growing, cooperative, respectful, and generally healthy work environment is one of the biggest attractions for people looking to join a new team.

We are in the era where the work environment grows and nurtures from relationships of cooperation, growth, trust, and respect; where we find these symbiotic relationships is where we find the strongest bonds of loyalty and where we find the highest evolution of an organization and its talents.

Finally, to win the war for talent, many things are needed, and one of them is to be able to identify the best talent. That is where a tool such as Evalart can help by identifying the best applicants using online tests and thus be clear that we are indeed fighting for those professionals who will make a difference in the organization.