Winning Strategies in the War for Talent

In a job seeker’s market, many industries face looming labor shortages, at all levels. Learn how to prepare your organization from any department.

Within the next decade, many major industries will face a massive talent shortage, and some are already feeling the impacts of a job seeker’s market. But there are important steps that leaders and departments can take well in advance of job vacancies to ensure that your organization maintains high levels of talent acquisition and retention.  

Develop your future workforce

If you’re faced with a shortage of talent in your industry, think about the future of your workforce and not just about filling current openings. Planning years ahead will pay massive dividends for your organization.  

At City of Hope, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit clinical research and treatment center for life-threatening diseases, chief human resources and diversity officer Kety Duron is always working against the nationwide nursing shortage. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be 1.09 million job openings for nurses by 2024, due to an aging population that will require more healthcare workers and a dearth of nursing educators to prepare the next generation of registered nurses.  

“From a talent strategy perspective, it is important that we continually attract the best talent while we develop, engage, and celebrate our existing talent,” Duron says. “As the talent gaps continue to grow in healthcare, it is critical that we develop talent pipelines and grow our own talent. Working with our community to educate youth on careers in STEM and designing curriculums with local universities to deliver the right skills are some of the strategies that we are cultivating.” 

It’s not just the healthcare industry that will face this workforce deficit; Fast Company reports that by 2025, roles in skilled trades, manufacturing, sales, and math-related fields, as well as health care, will be the hardest to fill. 

TAKEAWAY: Think just as much about how to staff future positions as you do about current ones. Those in non-HR roles can contribute to developing talent in their specialties and mentoring young people who will eventually fill the pipeline. 

Pay attention to what job seekers want 

Duron also sees it as part of her job to make City of Hope as attractive as possible for rising talent, and she works closely with other members of the executive team and their departments to ensure that. “We are highly focused on curing cancer and diabetes, and every recruit can make a difference in research and treatment methods, lives improved, and lives saved,” Duron says. “It is my role to set the talent strategy and proactively plan for our talent needs.” 

City of Hope has established diversity resource groups for veterans, young professionals, LGBTQ people, and more to ensure employees feel that they are part of the bigger community, which led to recognition for LGBTQ healthcare equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in 2017.  

These efforts are proven to attract and retain top talent; recent research shows that candidates place a premium on companies espousing a strong set of values. In a 2018 survey commissioned by LinkedIn of over 3,000 adult full-time workers, 71 percent of respondents said that “they would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a company that has a mission they believe in and shared values.” 

TAKEAWAY: A proactive talent strategy will include data and feedback on what job seekers in your industry are looking for, beyond just the job description. You can help shape your department and contribute at the leadership level to make your organization attractive to top talent. 

Rely on data & analytics 

While it’s imperative to think of the human element when hiring, taking a broader, more data-driven view of an overall workforce can be the perfect complement to human-centered hiring and retention practices.  

At international energy company National Grid, senior vice president of US human resources and chief diversity officer Keith Hutchison is responsible for keeping the pipeline of talent stocked on a continuous basis. To stay ahead of potential gaps in hiring, Hutchison utilizes predictive analytics combined with data on past patterns to help develop strategies.  

For example, data has shown that turnover rates are higher in National Grid’s call centers because many employees tend to be younger and see the role as a stepping stone in their careers. Hutchison looks at past data for individual call centers, as well as demographic factors such as whether a call center is in a college town with a more seasonal workforce. By examining patterns, he can determine where to focus recruiting before there’s a hole. 

“I can make an investment case to the US executive that in these areas we should over-recruit so that we have coverage for our customers and still be in accordance with our key performance indicators,” Hutchison explains. 

Similarly, Hutchison can analyze the data they collect on reasons that employees leave and then invest in improving areas that will retain employees better. 

“Being able to feed all of that data into our people analytics groups allows us to come up with insights of what we might want to do differently that could curb a trend that may be more negative than positive,” he says.  

According to a report by the IBM Institute for Business Value, companies that most successfully utilize people analytics to drive success tie the goals not just to HR tactics like “hire ten people” but to broader business goals, such as “optimizing costs” or “enhancing customer experience.” 

TAKEAWAY: People analytics, deployed alongside more traditional talent strategies, can augment efforts to keep your organization competitive and keep important roles filled. Using data this way can start as simply as conducting exit surveys and then looking for trends and ways to address them in your department.