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Reimagine talent strategy: make development a core part of your business

We’re entering a new era of work. One in which people manage their careers very differently from before. The idea of “lifetime employment” ended with the financial crash. Organizations are in a constant struggle to find, train, and keep great talent.

And we’re beginning to see another transformation – one which fundamentally changes our understanding of what organizations should expect from people, and how people expect to relate to their jobs.

Retention isn’t sticking around

Retention is becoming increasingly difficult because employees are increasingly mobile.

Among the 50-65 age group, the average tenure per company is around 10 years. For those 25-35, it’s just 2.8 years.

And in some of the world’s most successful companies, it’s even lower than that. Among the most successful Silicon Valley firms, the only one with an average tenure over 2 years is Facebook. The average is closer to 1.5.

The force driving this change is very simple. Now more than ever before, people know that security isn’t in any particular job, but in the job market itself. The more you move, the more skills and experience you build, the safer and more valuable you are.


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This means looking at the talent market in a completely different way

To get the most out of talent while they’re still with you, your organization needs to completely upend its approach to employer branding, benefits, and the value it brings to its people. Wages and retirement will always be important, of course. But if people are going to leave after only a few years with you, everyone needs to think longer and harder about where they’re going to end up next – and what happens after they’re gone.

Which brings us neatly to the first of 4 new principles for talent strategy which organizations will have to adopt to survive in the coming years.

Make talent development a core part of your business

This means not just improving your skills and learning approach but getting much more creative with how and where you identify and develop the people you want to work for you.

In other words, you’ll need to get used to designing and owning your own talent pipeline. This will require a step-change in attitude from many firms, because while most hiring processes are extremely linear, an organization’s talent needs rarely are.

It’ll no longer simply be enough to try and buy skills from outside the organization (especially since the traditional interviewing process isn’t a particularly effective or efficient way to find the skills you need.)

Instead, you’ll need to start with a thorough audit of your existing talent base in order to determine what skills they already bring to the table, and what skills you wish they had.

Appreciate the best, and settle for less

You’ll also need to get used to hiring people who aren’t perfect for the job. Traditional HR teams expect their candidates to meet 80-90% of the criteria for a role on hire. But in the future, you may need to accept they’ll only have 50% - but focus much more closely on their capacity to learn the other 50% while they work with you.

In the long term, taking the right approach to talent development doesn’t just mean figuring out what skills you need and getting hold of them. It means figuring out what skills you want your people to leave the organization with – and where you want them to go next.


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Ready to begin your own journey to a better future of work? Click below to claim a free copy of Workquake today – and a coffee to enjoy with it, on us.

So what does this look like?

A successful future talent strategy rests on bringing talent development and cultivation into your own day-to-day operations.

It requires cultivating relationships with communities and individuals that should be viewed in terms of several year – or even several decade – timespans.

Rather than relying on universities, colleges, and schools to do the legwork in shaping “raw material”, organizations should expect to shoulder more of this burden themselves. Excellent examples of this approach already in operation include Cisco’s Networking Academy, which helps students, educators, partners, and employers train in critical network engineering disciplines – and in the process creates a ready-made talent pool of individuals who know and understand the company’s products and can make use of them within and outside of the organization.

Another great example from a field where talent is both unusually scarce and vitally important comes in the form of the academy systems run by soccer teams in the English Premier League. Knowing that great young players have to be nurtured and mentored from a young age to reach their full potential, teams have made this process the core of their talent pipeline.

For already developed talent, you’ll have to consider what you can offer them in terms of their forward career trajectory. The skills, experience, and “badge value” you can give them for tomorrow will become a vital part of what people look for when they’re considering their next place to work. Instead of aiming to be a company where people stick around, aim to be a company people are proud to have worked at in the past. Many of the top performers in talent terms already have this reputation: everyone in tech wants to hire someone who’s ex-Alphabet. Everyone in business wants to hire alumni of the top consulting firms. Make it your mission to be the firm in your industry that everyone wants to have worked at in the past.

Want to know more?

Stay tuned, this is only the beginning. In the next part of this series, we’ll explore how you can play the long game to ensure that your talent continues to support your organization, even after they move on to other roles.

Read the rest of this blog series

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