Why is Talent Management and Retention So Difficult these days?

Because Senior Management is ‘cheap.

Ok, so this is click bait. Senior management is not really ‘cheap’ in the conventional sense of the word. I am trying to illustrate a point here. Bear with me.

jim d social media headhunterReflecting on today’s Win-Win@Work Live Radio show with Michael Cameron, Host, and Jim Durbin, Digital Marketing and Social Media Headhunter and founder of Social Media Headhunter, I distilled the conversation down to this one idea.

Jim spoke about the role of HR in the talent acquisition and recruiting process, pointing out that the recruiter’s seat was held by sales minded individuals. The best salespeople usually make the best recruiters. Those people good at finding opportunity, holding hands along the way, and closing deals see the most success. Which, oddly, doesn’t always equate to finding the best people, but to filling positions efficiently. He suggests that HR needs to invest more in marketing both individual roles – by targeting their audience carefully, as well as by marketing company culture. By building both personal branding and company branding as a goal for recruiters and firms alike, recruiters can go after the best people, most efficiently, and refrain from working huge pools of applicants which can be time-consuming to engage.

He spoke to the fact that Senior Management, that is C-Level leaders, aren’t being properly ‘sold’ the value of investing in HR and talent acquisition to get the best people.

This brought me to a bit of epiphany.

Developing Ongoing Talent Community Pipelines

It is pretty clear that the future of successful business lies within the talent pool they attract, especially in technology and skilled professionals. So how can it be difficult for Senior management to conclude that investing in talent acquisition is a win?

Well, I conclude, they are just plain cheap.

And I do not mean that in a bad way. Thousands of dollars are spent on talent acquisition – especially in recruiting fees. However, therein lies the problem. Much money is already being thrown into HR, how can management possibly redirect even more?

Ultimately, HR is seen as a cost center, a place where profits go to be lost, forever. It is extremely hard for a bottom line accountant to see the value of investing in a company’s branding expenses at the employee level. Advertising equates to sales, so the road, while not entirely clear, follows a straight path. To draw the line from promoting a company’s culture, to the individual in a cube building better software than their competitors, is difficult – if not impossible – to prove. Leaders like data, but they like to see those clear lines that run from spending to profit. Explaining that investing in talent acquisition and outreach to increase a company brand recognition on the hiring side is a tough sell.

Disrupting Traditional Talent Acquisition Strategies

The simplest way to think of it is just to change your lens. Recruiting, says Jim, needs to embrace more marketing principles and focus less on sales and closing – that is –  successful hires that fill a position, but either with the wrong or simply not the best candidate. In other words, HR is just doing the same old thing, putting bodies in seats, that may end up costing more than they are worth, while other companies are gobbling up much better candidates who contribute more, stick around longer, and improve the overall effectiveness of the company’s deliverables.

“So where can we go to borrow ideas?” he asks. “If we are not finding new ideas in new places, we are all stuck doing the same things.” What is that definition of insanity again, folks?

“We lose the talent because we cannot convince the executives of the value” – of investing in talent acquisition strategies. Startups get it, but it is a lot easier to paint a picture of 25 people in harmony than 40,000 across the planet.

HR needs to look at the entire talent pool for what it is, not just the resumes on their desk.

One can easily be fooled into thinking “Five-hundred people applied to this job, therefore, the employee pool is vast and endless” when in reality there may only be five applicants who are a good fit for the role. They key becomes to attract interest and sell the right candidates on the role, the responsibilities, and the compensation. So before the sales component, the marketing work needs to take place.

So no discredit to the leaders of our great companies, but a fundamental pivot needs to occur so that hiring is considered an integral part of the company culture. Until that happens, we will continue to see lackluster hires, high turnover, and job hopping.

The WinWin@Work Radio content is courtesy of Michael Cameron, CEO WinWinatWork.com, Executive Recruiter for HRExecrecruiter.com and host of the WSCA 106.1 FM radio show.  Michael  helps companies develop successful talent management strategies and recruit senior HR and TA leaders. 

Information for this blog was gleaned from the Live Win-Win@Work radio show and assembled by Rich Collins, friend of the show and owner of Thirst Productions, a digital media and content development freelancer. Please click here for the full live audio friendly mp3 format. General ideas have been repurposed in blog format and may be embellished, interpreted, or enhanced for purposes of generating a content rich summary of the show. Please listen to the show in it is entirely for full context, and remember that a live radio show is subject to opinion and interpretation.

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