The Talent War

As the number of millennials in the workforce grows, how do you recruit talent with the right skills to deliver your business mission, and then persuade them to stay?

The Talent War

Cut through, timely, customer-centric comms makes your brand stand out from the madding crowd. The most successful integrated campaigns are conceived, generated and powered by committed, flexible teams of creative and collaborative talent: digital communicators that are comfortable with immediacy, who can analyse data to understand customer behaviours, who are willing, and able, to take calculated risks and to learn from mistakes.

Stand out talent separates the wheat from the chaff in this increasingly complex and constantly changing world.

But how do you recruit talent with the right skills to deliver your business mission, and how can you persuade them to stay?

Culture Is Key

As the number of millennials in the workforce grows, and the baby boomers wain, new challenges appear.

Baby boomers started their careers in hierarchical, mechanistic corporations operated by command and control leaders. The dream of lifelong job security drove a pervading sense of gratefulness and corporate loyalty. Baby boomers were (and often still are) prepared to put up and shut up. They accepted the madness of donning the cloak of professional persona, and became accustomed to operating within clearly defined roles in disconnected silos. Hoarding information and knowledge as power was, and for many still is, normal corporate behaviour.

Things are changing fast. Millennials, projected to represent 75% of the workforce by 2025, grew up in the social, connected world. They display different behaviours and have different expectations and needs. Company loyalty cannot be expected, it has to be earned, and financial compensation is only part of the package.

Millennials expect to be inspired by visionary leaders and to be proud of the company mission. Information is not to be hoarded and protected, but shared to gain buy-in and respect from colleagues and influencers. Sharing, transparency and collaboration are the new norms. Millennials expect to be creative, to work collaboratively in teams and to get timely and useful feedback.

Essentially they expect to work in a great connected culture with the best people.

Unfortunately many companies don’t quite live up to that dream. They are bound by silos, blocked by middle management and bottlenecked by inefficient, disjointed processes.

“I guess I expected I would get to act on more of my ideas, and that the higher ups would have figured out by now that the model’s changing.” Gen Y In The Workforce by Tamara Erickson, Harvard Business Review.

If they can’t thrive in your company, they will move on to somewhere where they can.

The very best talent will choose to work for companies that build their culture and operating model on the 6 key pillars of empathy, respect, certainty, connectedness, autonomy and fairness.

Talent recruitment and retention should not be left in the hands of HR. It is a core business challenge that has to be owned and addressed by the C-Suite.

If you want to win the talent war, you’d better get into shape and get strategic.

Get Into Shape

So how can your company attract and keep the best talent?

In a world where the connected customer, and employee, are increasingly empowered, every decision that you make has to be centred around their needs and wants.

To win and maintain employee loyalty in the connected world, you need to harness your full communication prowess.

Millennials are used to the immediacy of social networks. When they post content, they get immediate feedback: likes, comments and shares. Each like, each comment, triggers the release of dopamine. This dopamine drip is addictive. The expectation of immediate feedback has become engrained.

Most companies, however, still operate traditional evaluation processes across an annual performance revue cycle. Millennials expect daily feedback, but are offered it annually. Something has to give.

The smartest digital leaders are setting a course towards a future state where hierarchies are replaced by a more holistic model. Thinkers and doers from across the whole business will work together towards a common goal, and a shared understanding of business objectives and purpose. The focus is moving away from competitive processes, towards collaborative goals. Leaders know they need to move from the “I” to the “we,” towards continuous feedback and improvement, and agility to be an employer of choice.

But most organisations have a long way to go before they reach this new reality. They are deploying enterprise software and applications to drive efficiencies while the concept of “Enterprise” is alien to most employees as they drive blind inside their disconnected silos.

Mission Control

The concept of the mission control centre, or war room, is hardly new. By visualising multiple streams of social and behavioural data, brand teams can respond real-time to shifting customer sentiment and social dynamics, or zoom in to better understand the changes. Mission control centres allow brands to identify, and develop relationships with, those all important social influencers.

These dashboards provide insights to help brands understand where product, service and communications are contributing to the customer loyalty that powers the bottom line, where they are failing and where conversion and acquisition can be improved.

The smartest companies are putting these data driven insights at the core of flexible, continuously improving engagement and communications strategies.

The Importance Of Listening

Social media usage by 10 to 70 year olds has jumped by a multiplier of 10 in the last 10 years. 65% of the US population are now active users of social media. Figures are similar here in Europe.

The majority of people access their social networks on their mobiles. The reality is that, although companies may try to ban social media at work, most people carry their networks in their pockets.

What happens when a member of your team leaves feeling unfulfilled and unvalued? In a world where peer recommendation is everything, they are unlikely to recommend your company, or be an advocate for your business across their often sizeable networks. The amplified word of mouth can have a profound effect on recruitment and retention.

Employee engagement and loyalty is no longer just a nice to have. And just because you aren’t listening doesn’t mean they aren’t talking.

Enterprise Mission Control

Imagine the potential of an enterprise mission control that powers a global employee-centric engagement framework. Imagine how much we could learn about shifting employee sentiment and engagement by listening and analysing their social streams. We could pick up clues as soon as talent starts to feel disengaged and disempowered, and act before niggles become deal breakers.

As an example, an employee who is feeling restless and disengaged at work might start to be more active on LinkedIn. Wouldn’t it be useful to be able to spot these behaviour shifts, and respond strategically with carefully designed communications and incentives?

Negativity is contagious, especially when a cynical employee is also a social influencer. Imagine being able to spot and reward internal social influencers, and to keep track of the constantly shifting organisational behaviours.

Now lets walk a little further towards Future Co. This will be a time where employees will be incentivised to contribute regularly to enterprise social networks. They’ll be encouraged to share successes and failures with their global peers. Digital frameworks will enable instant reward to feed the dopamine drip, and strategic incentives will nurture and celebrate enterprise behaviours.

Engagement has a significant impact on recruitment and retention, and on the bottom line. Surely it makes good business sense to invest in a global listening dashboard, and an Engagement Response [ER] team to respond appropriately to the insights generated.

An ER team, with a deep understanding of behavioural psychology and social physics, could be given the express remit of listening to the global workforce, collecting and analysing behavioural and social data, and responding to the insights. They should be tasked with turning data into engaging stories that celebrate and share learnings across global communities of interest.

Imagine the benefits of the C-Suite being able to zoom out to see the entirety of their increasingly complex, distributed global organisations, to track shifting patterns and quantify the impact of changing behaviours and processes.

All companies should move in this direction, but success lies in the C-Suite really buying in to the change, and investing at the right level to support continuous strategic engagement activity over the prolonged periods it takes for companies to change.