When considering your company’s strengths, the people that make your business should be top of that list. Companies that take a talent-first approach, and so create a highly engaged workforce, outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share, according to Gallup.
But how can this crucial asset for your company be cultivated to ensure your long-term success?
Firstly, look at your top performers. If you can nurture their skills, and give them the opportunity to develop and progress, you’ll retain your best talent while also building your internal marketplace of skills. But also consider how you can plug skill gaps externally; sometimes the skills you need aren’t available or able to be developed from your existing workforce.
By mixing these two approaches – engaging new and existing talent – you’ll have a clearer overview of your status quo and what gaps you need to fill to achieve your business goals.
What is a talent pipeline?
A talent pipeline is about creating a steady stream of potential candidates who are ready to fill – and thrive in – key roles in your business. This means breaking down each role into skills, not by title or cookie-cutter requirements, and then figuring out the best way to attract and develop candidates with those skills.
For some roles, this will be about looking outwards, pinpointing and engaging audiences with the right skills through events and email campaigns to build up a ready pool of potential talent outside the business.
But your talent pipeline strategy should also embrace internal mobility, promoting your talented staff from within and allowing them to grow into the role. By giving your employees access to learning and development opportunities based on their current skills – or areas they’re interested in developing – you make the most of your existing workforce, while also giving them the opportunity and resources to further their career in the direction they want to take it.
Having this clarity also improves the experience of candidates during the interview process, letting them know what your company can do for their career progression and personal development.
So a strong talent pipeline strategy reduces the time it takes to find the right candidate by giving you a ready pool of talent – both internally and externally. It also allows you to conduct skill audits, figuring out where your strengths and weaknesses lie and then filtering your searches for those who can bring the most value to your company.
Awareness of your skill gaps is business-critical, but also a continual process, not just for when you’re hiring for the role. And by taking the time to plan for future skill changes and needs, you won’t be surprised by unexpected gaps.
Putting your trust in talent data
In order to manage your talent pipeline effectively, you need to collect and track the right data, including:
- Hiring source
- Applicant-to-hire success rate
- Candidate satisfaction rate
Of these, skills are perhaps the most important thing to track. By having a complete picture of the skills flowing into and out of your business, you can better understand the skill gaps in your business and start strategically planning more effectively.
And by leveraging AI, you can start using this data to spotlight individual journeys and their progress through the whole talent lifecycle – from prospect to promotion, to understand their engagement in the business
You’ll also be able to monitor the ROI you’re getting from talent initiatives at a more granular level and what can be tweaked for greater success. What skill gaps will appear in the next six months? What percentage of our workforce have we helped develop over the last quarter? Are we hiring to budget and hitting diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) targets for these skills?
Supporting your pipeline internally
We’ve discussed external initiatives; now let’s dive deeper into how you can build out your internal strategy for engaging employees by making the most of their diverse skill sets.
Consider building a talent marketplace, a centralized hub for posting internal roles. Or, as HR expert Josh Bersin sees it, a “democratized way to manage a company: creating an open, employee-centred place where people can fulfil their aspirations.” As part of your strategy, examine what teams have an overlapping skill set, as well as where you have gaps.
Transparency about what attributes coexist within the role creates a more inclusive environment for employees, taking the stigma out of applying for a move to a whole new department. Though it requires a long lead time to implement, a high level of internal mobility is a sign of very healthy company culture.
Other benefits of implementing these initiatives include lower recruiting costs by improving the pipeline with readymade talent that is developed and engaged, allowing you to track their skills and how they would be best suited for the role. Endorsing this approach will also ultimately aid in employee retention by aligning people's personal career goals with those of your current skill gaps.
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The last two years have thrown up a host of new challenges for talent teams, but they have also created a big opportunity for those willing to take it.
By taking the time to understand talent at the level of skills, and consider its whole lifecycle, you can create a long-lasting talent strategy that moves beyond just a tactical response to the pandemic – a strategy built on understanding what each individual wants and working out how to help them get there, and helping you to turn attrition into attraction and retention.
To learn more about talent lifecycle management and how it can help you attract and retain the best talent, download our Talent Lifecycle Management Whitepaper.