Speeding up processes won’t solve the emerging talent crisis – but reinventing them will

“Heritage and larger organisations must adapt to a new commercial landscape. Of course, they will always be attractive to potential recruits. But they can no longer rely on big salary and high status to attract talent.” – Ross Crook, Managing Director, Sanderson Solutions

Ross Crook, MD, Sanderson Solutions

24 May 2022

Ross Crook, MD, Sanderson Solutions

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Ross Crook, MD, Sanderson Solutions

The heart of the current crisis in recruiting emerging talent is simple right? More jobs and less people to do them.

If only it were that easy.

Everyone – from large businesses to start-ups – is aware of the current complexity in attracting and retaining emerging talent.

It’s something we think a lot about at Sanderson Solutions – and we could easily get snared in myriad details.

But I believe the core truth of what is driving the talent crisis should also be the constant touch point we use to identify solutions.

For example, if there are more jobs and less people to do them, the traditional power dynamic that many of us are familiar with has been reversed.

It’s no longer a question of businesses giving jobs to willing candidates queuing up for them. It’s about willing candidates deciding to choose businesses to be their employers.

And it’s that essential truth that must inform every decision and strategy we implement going forward.

Those entering the job market today do so with a very different set of experiences than older generations.

Macro trends – from the rise of globalisation and consumerism to more recent events like Covid and Brexit – have informed their expectations that now extend far beyond salary.

Some want to work from home, others want break out areas with snugs and pool tables in the office. Most expect mental health support, social opportunities and a fine balance between autonomy and mentorship.

All this goes far beyond pay cheque – and emerging talent wants to know how you approach all of the above before they decide to work for you.

Now though, many employers are focusing purely on the shortage of people and see the solution as a race.

If it’s no longer a question of young people competing for one job offer but weighing up the pros and cons of multiple opportunities, then surely the answer is to speed up recruitment processes and be the first past the post in making offers?

Not necessarily. This approach doesn’t always translate to winning the candidate.

More effective is shifting the focus on better defining the connection between you and the people you want to employ. That means spending more time on your overarching offer in terms of company ethos, attitudes and benefits.

Speeding up processes won’t solve the emerging talent crisis – but reinventing them will

It’s also critical to drill down into the far-reaching impact of technology on both recruitment and retention practices.

Post-Covid, our working world has changed completely and many businesses have yet to reflect that in both how they interact with young people as they bid to hire them, and also the relationship they build with them once they are in jobs.

Mass digital recruitment seminars aren’t solving the problem. They’re exacerbating it. It’s also time to get rid of old-fashioned bureaucracy, politics and wasteful processes to enable us to be more dynamic and agile.

Once we’ve recruited new talent, we must be aware that less face-to-face office time impacts their soft learning opportunities. We must look carefully at how we will enhance skill sets for those working remotely and provide opportunities for both group learning and individual progress within a hybrid working environment.

Care must be taken that new recruits not only understand their practical responsibilities in our new working environments, but also develop the relationships and personal connection to an organisation that makes them feel welcomed, productive – and fosters the crucial emotional connection that produces loyalty.

All this is why the onboarding experience for young people is more critical now than ever.

Creating a high touch experience is a necessity and care must be paid to how new employees will meet and connect with colleagues, the diarising of their time in the initial weeks in post, how they will start to undergo training and development via virtual coworking, team meetings and individual check ins.

I’d also argue that a shift in our expectations for employee career development is key.
Are you still thinking about setting a long-term career path for graduates?

Setting out an unrealistic career path will turn candidates off. We need to think about the right people for the here and now, without the expectation for the long run.

Right now, investing in short-and-medium term planning with an open door to allow boomerang hires to come back offers the kind of flexibility that will ensure efficacy.

Heritage and larger organisations must also adapt to a new commercial landscape.

Of course, they will always be attractive to potential employees. But they can no longer simply rely on big salaries and high status to attract top talent.

Larger, more traditional, companies are now struggling to attract the same level of graduates they historically could rely on because newer organisations are paying the same money – and embodying the culture and ethos that young people are drawn to.

These newer companies – some start-up, others with start-up DNA in their veins – have a diverse workforce and believe in all the things that many should have built into their businesses years ago.

They are supportive of ‘good time’ management both inside and outside the workplace – replacing water cooler office moments with other opportunities to socialise and engage on meaningful activity.

These younger businesses are also attractive to the increasing drive in our emerging talent to get in, do it, and get out.

They are joining start-up tech organisations for instance with share options or other drivers to retain them longer term – and the chance of realising their ambition to retire early.

They can see a short cut to financial security.

It’s an attractive prospect. Work hard, play hard, and then live the rest of your life.

We also know the conversation around diversity is no longer a debate. It’s an imperative.But we must view it as a far more expansive ambition than an equitable gender or ethnicity split.

It’s also about corporate social responsibility and organisations giving people opportunities who wouldn’t traditionally have had to them before. Young, bright, ambitious and talented candidates who haven’t been able to show what they’re capable of yet because they haven’t been given a chance.

There will always be a need for academic attainment in the world of work. But we now also have many more ways to assess individuals other than their performance and recall at one specific point in time.

Define what good looks like to you – no matter what has gone before. Today gamification tools allow us to assess an individual’s potential, their mindset and attitudes and not their previous academic accomplishments.

More businesses need to increase that tech and be open to what assessments we want to use beyond traditional options.

It’s certainly a tough environment right now for those looking to recruit the top emerging talent.

Vitally, t’s also a moment that we can use to not only improve but revolutionise our recruitment attitudes and practices.

And, for me, that is an exciting prospect.

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