Talent management in difficult times - Business Works
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Talent management in difficult times

Joanne Hinks, Operations Director, Elemense Finding and keeping talented people is hard so hard its almost a talent in itself and under the current dark economic clouds its particularly tough.

Recent news illustrates this well. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics shows that in the three months to May, there were 2.58 million unemployed people in the UK a fall of 65,000 on the last quarter.

The fact that numbers showing an unemployment rate of 8.1% were nevertheless welcomed as good news highlights just how tough times are. They can also be seen as proof positive that businesses should focus on their top talent to help steer them through the storms.

The situation has sparked a real struggle between companies challenged with competing for the best talent. Add in the natural desire for workers to seek job security, the talent pool shrinks and the value of the best candidates has noticeably grown.

Business leaders are thus facing the immediate test of both attracting and retaining skilled people in the bad times, with the knowledge that as unemployment falls those same people will need the inspiration to stay on as the recruitment market begins to move again.

It is a dilemma that must not be ignored if organisations are to flourish and grow under the best current leadership, while also paying close attention to those who have the potential to pick up the torch and carry on their success.

And that applies just as much to workers who are underperforming and whose improved contribution could make the vital difference to winning a contract, completing a project or reaching a target.

It is too late to answer this question when gaps suddenly start appearing and the right people simply cannot be found, so getting a grip has to start now so that crises down the line can be forestalled and your business strengthened.

A successful talent-management strategy that pulls together all these demands must start with HR becoming the engine room attracting, keeping and nurturing talent. An effective system will promote mobility, retain staff and cut training costs through efficient coordination across the company.

With HR securely placed as the central hub, line managers must fulfil their role of being the live connection to the workforce, always alert to identifying needs, spotting issues of behaviour, performance and morale and flagging up those who are considering leaving. By working together, these two elements of the business can achieve results in retaining and developing workers that will pay off through a dedicated and savvy staff that wants to experience repeated successes.

But while that works very well in smaller companies where changes are more easily spotted, there are major practical challenges to achieving this kind of system in larger firms where it is impossible to achieve such an overview of everyone who works there.

Instead, a leadership development programme needs to be in place from the start so that the inevitable gaps that appear can be swiftly and efficiently filled by people who have been supported to grow the skills, attitude and knowledge to step up and maintain the businesss momentum.

In this case, it is not just about inspiring people to stay and grow, but also devising long-term plans to cultivate the next generation of leaders. In the never-ending fast-paced sprint of business it is easy to overlook this issue, but talent is at the heart of a business. It needs care to sustain that vital beat.

With 18 years experience within the recruitment industry, Joanne Hinks has specialised in the business process outsourcing sector since 2000, working with various blue chip clients in-house to implement and manage recruitment outsourcing solutions. Joanne joined elemense in early 2008 working as a Client Relationship Director for VT Group. She is responsible for the service delivery of all major accounts.

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