Recruiting, managing, developing and retaining high-potential employees has never been easy. And now, with the tightest labor market since the late 1990s, new standards of workplace culture and rapid technological advancement make hiring, training and holding onto top talent even more complex for HR and L&D leaders. It’s evident that developing modern talent strategies that are effective at addressing these complexities is mission-critical for businesses.
Let’s take a look at some of the top workforce challenges your organization may contend with in the coming year, along with proactive strategies for addressing them.
Talent acquisition challenges
Ideally, your organization will be promoting from within as much as possible, sourcing top performers for leadership positions from among your current workforce. But to do this, you have to have a significant employee base to source from. And this is far easier said than done in today’s market:
- Record turnover rates and a global talent shortage mean finding skilled employees is more difficult than ever.
- A global skills shortage compounds the problem, particularly for highly technical roles that require specific expertise.
- Recruitment teams are tasked with attracting and hiring talent at wildly increased volumes, while greatly short-staffed themselves. With heightened employee expectations – spurred by 2020’s tumultuous changes to the workforce — successful recruiting efforts require far more than traditional salary and benefits package, with options like flexible working hours, wellness allowances, workforce education and tangible advancement opportunities all but required.
Today's top talent looks for an employer that aligns with their personal and professional values — ones that prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and a commitment to promoting from within. More than 75% of job seekers surveyed say they take diversity and equity practices into account when evaluating a potential employer, and hiring managers are finally beginning to look for “culture adds” instead of “culture fits” with their new hires.
As with strong DEI, promoting from within not only also fosters employee engagement, it can also be an effective recruitment tool. A company’s tendency to promote from within may be the very factor that tips the scale for high-potential recruits — and employees at companies who promote from within stay almost twice as long.
Offering opportunities for career advancement and education clearly signal a company’s willingness to invest in their employees’ well-being and growth, helping attract and retain the talent you need.
Talent management challenges
Maintaining employee engagement, building a thriving workplace culture and enabling your employees to succeed in their positions are critical aspects of talent management that have also been affected by the new world of work.
Engagement translates to productivity and retention, yet only 36% of employees are engaged in their workplace. There’s so much room for improvement here, and organizations that put real effort behind engagement stand to win big.
It’s not one size fits all, though. Addressing talent management challenges successfully will depend more and more on an organization’s ability to connect with its employee base and offer benefits that matter to them, be it education opportunities, childcare/eldercare or flexible work hours.
Talent development challenges
In today’s market, employees expect multiple opportunities for learning and development (L&D). Reimagined educational solutions have pushed a rapid modernization of L&D options that deliver much-needed flexibility, with benefits for both employees and companies.
- Talent development is no longer merely a nice-to-have worker benefit, but instead, a vital function that supports employee and organizational growth, along with a clear leadership pipeline. Companies should consider how talent development fits into their larger business strategy and weave it in.
- A one-size-fits-all approach to upskilling and reskilling your teams is no longer sufficient. Organizations are challenged to introduce flexible, agile methods that cater to the needs of a variety of learners. Your employees are individuals and must be treated as such.
- A global shortage of both talent and skills means your development program is an ever-more critical resource. The national unemployment rate dropped from 15% in 2020 to 4% in 2021, making external talent harder to find. But organizations can cultivate the skills within their organization through robust employee training and workforce education programs
Employee retention challenges
Turnover is an inevitable reality for businesses, but retaining employees these days is about far more than one-time bonuses or similar perks. In a highly competitive job market, your top employees have more choices than ever before, and their expectations have changed since the pandemic.
- When considering a company, employees today look at "emotional salary" — things about their job and their employer that make them want to stay such as:
An employer that is committed to making a social impact
An employer that takes actions to further workplace DEI
Flexible/remote working options
Tangible career advancement opportunities
Accessible L&D opportunities
- Alterations to workplace standards have undergone permanent changes following the COVID-19 crisis. For employees whose jobs were made remote during the pandemic, 58% report they would leave their current position if the option to telecommute was taken away.
- The culture of “jobs for life” is a thing of the past — 20% of the American workforce expects to be working in a different industry within the next 8 years. Cross-training and reskilling your workforce with courses and degrees promotes retention for top players.
- Highly engaged employees are more likely to stay with their current company longer. Today, that means investing in internal mobility, employee growth and education. In one survey, 94% of employees agreed that they would consider staying with their current organization longer if given greater investment in their professional development.
If some of these challenges seem familiar, that may be because many of them are ongoing. A broader talent strategy inevitably shifts alongside world events. Especially in periods of extreme disruption like those of the past few years, employees want clarity and transparency, benefits tailored to them and opportunities for advancement.
To consistently provide these opportunities to their workforce, talent leaders need to be agile during this time, putting systems in place and always thinking ahead to avoid future challenges. By taking the long view, you will be able to avoid short-term bandaids for talent crises and instead focus on long-term solutions for real business outcomes.
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