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Talent Acquisition from the C-Level Perspective

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For the CEO, talent acquisition is at once far removed from the big picture of the company and a key component of just how pretty that big picture ends up being. Today’s executives are becoming more aware of the critical role that talent has to play in the continued growth and innovation at their companies. If you’ve been following the Accolo blog recently, we’ve been talking a lot about “the talent gap,” or the lack of availability of candidates with in-demand technical skills, and the impact that long vacancies and bad hires can have on the bottom line. For the most part, however, we’ve been talking about how people in recruiting and HR are meeting this challenge. While it’s important to know how HR views the talent gap, understanding the executive perspective can show you where resources may be allocated at your company in the near future. Understanding what’s important to CEOs will also help those in HR to present talent initiatives to management in the terms that executives want: hard numbers and solutions, not problems. That’s why, today, we’re going to be exploring how CEOs view today’s talent challenges, which talent issues they find to be most pressing and how prepared these executives believe their companies are for these challenges.

The first thing to get straight is that CEOs know how important talent is. Though their role sometimes necessitates tough staffing decisions such as layoffs during tough times and though they are generally removed from the hiring process, executives know how important “getting the right people on the bus” really is. According to a survey from the leading professional network PWC, 63% of executives said that the availability of skills in candidates was a serious concern for their company. Across the globe, employers are reporting increased difficulty in making qualified hires. When operation critical positions remain vacant for the national average of 25 days or even upwards of 6 months, employee morale and productivity can take a big hit. When there’s nobody to do a job, it doesn’t mean that the job doesn’t still need to be done and when you’re unable to fill a vacancy, it’s your current employees who are bearing the brunt of the burden. With the importance that filling these high skill positions plays in a business remaining competitive, it’s no wonder that improving talent acquisition is on the top of the list for many CEOs. According to the same PWC survey, 93% of executives recognize the need to improve their company’s talent acquisition, though 61% of them haven’t taken the first step in doing so. What’s more, the survey revealed that only 34% of CEOs believed that HR was ready for upcoming talent challenges. So, at this point, we can see that executives care about talent from a strategic perspective, even if they don’t know how to start improving their own sourcing and screening processes.

But talent acquisition isn’t the only staffing concern on the minds of executives. A changing job market means a changing strategy for talent management and retention. Today’s average employee doesn’t expect to work for any company for more than a few years, and that’s if everything ends up going well! With both employee engagement and retention slipping lower with each passing year, simply snagging top talent (or not so simply) isn’t enough to ensure that the investment in this new employee will pay off. In order for an employee to excel to their full potential, there needs to be a strong enough managerial infrastructure to support that employee and guide their work toward its most useful ends. Perhaps this is why, when Human Capital asked executives to rank global HR issues by urgency, retention and management were at the top of the list. Here are the top 4 HR issues that executives are concerned with:

  1. Leadership (48% “Important” /38% “Urgent”)
  2. Retention and Engagement (53% “Important” /26% “Urgent”)
  3. Re-Skilling the HR Function (52% “Important” /25% “Urgent”)
  4. Talent Acquisition and Access(51% “Important” /24% “Urgent”)

Besides being concerned with how to attract talented employees, executives are also interested in ways to keep those employees around and working for as long as possible. One of the largest factors that determines a company’s ability to attract top talent is that company’s employer brand, or the public perception of that company’s treatment of their applicants and employees. Compassionate, directed management is the cornerstone of a strong employer brand and a company culture in which productivity and clear communication reign. When you enter an organization from the outside (like a new hire), it’s a simple matter of spotting organizational chaos or a manager who’s making everyone hate their job. In order to ensure that the talent you source sticks around, you must have good managers to direct that talent and facilitate the best working environment possible for that talent. This way, when a talented hire lands at your company, someone is showing them where they fit into the grand scheme of things from day 1, increasing the likelihood that they’ll be truly engaged in their new job. CEOs around the globe are coming to realize the 2 fold importance of management for both talent acquisition and talent retention, so expect to hear something along these lines from an executive before too long!

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