Forbes: Adapt Or Lose: How To Recruit And Retain Talent In A World That’s Constantly Changing

By Lisa Dallenbach

It’s time to embrace the increasingly agile business environment and rethink how your company finds, manages, and evaluates employees. Whether you’re a growing startup or a big firm, by adapting to the way people now navigate their careers, you can do a better job of attracting and retaining them. Here are five tips that will show you how:

1) Turn activity into action

Find new ways to use the information that’s available to you. Job sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor have loads of data that can help you identify new candidates and keep high performers engaged. For example, consider the talent that you want, and then map to where candidates with those skillsets live. You may be hiring in LA, but learn that the talent you need is largely found in Virginia. If that’s the case, does the best talent really need to sit in your office? If you’re willing to let employees work remotely and bring them in a few times a year, you set your company up with a much wider talent pool.

These sites can also help you be predictive, identifying sets of employees likely to leave soon, based on industry standards for job movement and profile activity. Then you can decide if it’s worthwhile to be pre-emptive, checking in on job satisfaction and identifying new opportunities that might be of interest to them at work.

2) Always know your talent pool

Make sure you’re collecting your own data as well – and put it to use. You’re likely already capturing start date, salary history, expertise history (digital, business development, etc.) and job experience history. Make this process easy to compile. As part of onboarding, have people tick off specific areas of expertise – and then update it as they grow.

You should also watch for attrition trends in the data. When you better understand how long people stay at your company, you can be proactive where needed. So if you see a trend of people leaving after two years, you can engage employees before that benchmark to keep your best talent. You can also consider pulling people who have been in the same role for three or four years and look for ways to create growth opportunities for them. And it’s not just about length of tenure — look at these by level and discipline too.

3) Consider communal interviews

Whether you’re a big firm that needs to staff up for a new business win or a smaller one that needs to fill a leadership role, consider stepping away from the traditional round-robin interview and feedback approach. It’s exhausting and eats into tons of billable hours.

Instead, we developed an Associates Panel to speed the process and give candidates a taste of the fast-paced nature of our business. The hiring team, prepped with questions, prompts a conversation. Then they can see how the prospects handle pressure, build on ideas, and solve problems. In many instances, we’ve made offers that day or that evening – with a bonus if people start the next day.

You may also want to include a quick deep dive and videos of your company’s culture and leadership during the panel. It’s easy to do, for example a short, raw and informal video that conveys your brand in a dynamic way. Even if some candidates aren’t the right fit now, leave them with a great impression of the company that they’ll likely share.

4) Create ‘unconventional’ growth

Employees don’t expect, nor can your company honestly promote, the notion that there’s a clear path to a corner office. We’ve replaced that steady climb up the corporate ladder with a flattened organization, fewer titles, and a more expanded definition of career growth.

We now share examples about how learning a new part of the business, attending a prestigious conference, or a short stay in one of our other offices can create true career growth without a title change. Visualize it through concentric circles versus the old “working your way up the ladder” analogy. Think about unconventional perks relevant to your industry, then find ways to package them so they become a meaningful addition to your retention mix.

While this hasn’t stopped every employee from leaving for “greener grass” sooner than we wished, our attrition rate is now tracking lower, over a five percent decrease.

5) Give on-going feedback

According to Gallup, only three in 10 employees strongly agree that in the last six months, someone at work talked to them about their progress. Only 23% strongly agree their manager gives them meaningful feedback. And only three in 10 really believe there’s someone who encourages their development.

That’s why you’ve got to rip up annual reviews. Instead, we’ve created continuous, future-driven conversations that focus on “what’s next” three times a year. The process is simple and constructive. Our next step is an app where employee can give a shout out to each other on a job well done, and managers can give private on-the-spot feedback. It also allows employees to submit feedback on the agency and our programs. This allows for more immediate, transparent feedback to individuals and simple surveys that let us know what we can be doing better, too.

Becoming more agile requires flexibility that’s a stretch for many organizations. But the pain of change is worth it. After all, if we’re unwilling to do the work to become the very best for our employees, then how can we expect them to be the best for us?