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Talent Engagement: What Is It And Why Is It Important?

Companies are all competing in a tricky hiring market these days, but there is a solution to retain the employees you do bring onboard: better talent engagement.

Our recent whitepaper, The Talent Trap, uncovered that 88% of business leaders say acquiring and retaining talent is more important to their business now than it was 18 months ago. It’s easy to see why, with a host of challenges presented in the current talent market:

  • Hiring competition – Employees quitting their jobs en masse (the “Great Resignation”) has led to a “war for talent” among employers.
  • Skills shortages – The skills gap is significant, but if closed, it could add US$11.5 trillion to global GDP by 2028.
  • Cost of hiring – Hiring and benefits costs hit record highs in 2021, and the 2022 figures are likely to be even higher due to inflation.

As companies work through these challenges and aim to acquire and retain the best workers, talent engagement will play a crucial role. 

What is engaged talent, and why is it a strategic imperative?

What is engaged talent? 

Talent engagement – broadly – describes the strength of the mental and emotional connection an employee feels toward their employer and place of work. Highly engaged talent closely associates their work or employer with their own professional (and personal) growth, and are more likely to stay with the company.

Organizations that get talent engagement right find ways to elevate the employee experience  over time and enable them to thrive. This also benefits the company, by aligning the employee’s career ambitions with business goals and the skill gaps that need to be filled.

Why is engaged talent a strategic imperative?

In these current market conditions – with heavy employee turnover and increased competition for talent – organizations are under significant pressure to transform their workforce. Retention could be considered even more valuable than talent acquisition in the long term. And companies need engagement to improve retention. 

Part of this comes down to how people (i.e. employees/candidates) now expect “consumer-grade” experiences in every area of their lives. A variety of factors that were once differentiators amongst employers are fast becoming table stakes. For instance:

  • How easy it is to explore internal gigs or opportunities
  • How personalized the experience is for both job candidates and existing employees
  • How relevant experiences are to an individual’s unique situation and skills.

And from a long-term tracking and analysis perspective, engaged talent creates incredibly valuable data for businesses – tools such as Talent Insights enable you to understand the capabilities of your workforce with the skills that are becoming more common (and more important). Companies can use this data to better understand their talent’s engagement levels and create retention initiatives. 

How to solve the talent engagement challenge

The focus for companies must be on becoming more “talent-first” – and it has to happen quickly. 

Companies are already losing their top performers, often due to lack of transparency around development and progression. Creating career pathways that are transparent, and personalized to the skills and ambitions of an individual employee, is essential to keep people connected to the organization over the longer term. 

Our recent ebook, Talent Engagement and Retention Strategies for 2022, explores some of the ways to provide clear development and career opportunities. These include:

  • Upskilling – Strengthening an employee’s existing skills to close skill gaps, increase productivity, and improve job security.
  • Cross-skilling – Helping employees develop new skills to benefit a separate business area, enabling them to move between teams and departments.
  • Lateral moves – Allowing employees to switch to a new role at the same level and pay, which can help diversify their skill set, improve their work-life balance, or just switch up their day-to-day working lives to help them stay engaged.

Optimizing your talent mobility strategy and talent marketplace

Talent experiences have never mattered more. Our Talent Attraction Index found that 494 of the Fortune 500 companies use career portals as a tool to attract top performers to their organization – a valuable way to attract workers with a high engagement potential. But portals and platform utilization shouldn’t end with external talent: you can also utilize tools to understand your current talent, gather feedback, and ensure they know their options for growth.

One of the best ways to lay out all opportunities for employees is with a talent marketplace. Creating a talent marketplace and mobility options that are truly built around the employee and designed to help them realize career ambitions at your organization are crucial to stem the tide of the Great Resignation.

And there is a key second-order effect of a talent marketplace: it enables businesses to proactively – and predictively – manage talent and resources, shaping how employees grow, work together, and build impactful teams over time.

Engagement and retention are inherently intertwined, and the tactics and processes each business uses must evolve. Having a clear strategy for talent mobility – and perhaps a talent marketplace to support that strategy – is a business imperative. 

Our ebook can help you get talent engagement right, and stay ahead in the competitive talent market. Download it here.