Global consulting firm, McKinsey, coined the term “the war for talent”. The concept became an phenomenon, whereby companies sought and hired highly skilled individuals with the belief that having the “best” would immensely impact revenue and profitability.
Organisations have used this method as their talent strategy. They focus upon hiring talent that have “precise experience” in a particular domain, expecting that the person would join the organisation to do the exact thing they had done previously. As ludicrous as it sounds, this is widely practiced today. Let me repeat – “Hire someone with experience to repeat the exact thing they had done before”. This poses a question – How challenging would the work be for that individual? How long would you expect this person to stay doing such work?
This theory is one way to explain an active job market. Another is that organisations are spending less time in providing long term careers for their employees that they essentially produce less loyal employees. Organisations still remain structured beasts, riddled with tradition and CEO legacies. A rigid organisation can end up stifling talented individuals who can’t move up the organisation structure, because someone is currently sitting in the position they desire. So they end up leaving to a more sought after position.
Another paradigm is that Organisations’ cannot predict future revenue streams, changes or talent needs, so the employee has to bide their time until someone leaves or they have done enough great work that satisfies yearly performance boxes, that they warrant a promotion. The reality is that organisations are not as agile as perhaps they should be. The position of Data Scientist will be one of the most contested and popular positions in the IT world over the next 5 years. But if there is a Data Scientist, why can’t there be a Customer Scientist? Or a Revenue Scientist? This lack of forward thinking or agility promotes a passive job seeker. Someone that is looking for a better opportunity because their current employer doesn’t provide that opportunity. Not because the organisation doesn’t want to keep the person, its because the structure doesn’t permit it.
Enter the world of the passive job seeker. Statistics show that 60% of professionals are passive and 25% are active job seekers today. If you are in an organisation of 100 people, then more than 20 will leave in the near future, and more than 50% are waiting for the right opportunity to leave. Ok, there are factors working against this. 1) If employee engagement is high, then its likely that a person may delay any move. 2) Personal situations such as finances/working close to home etc, may stop a person from leaving.
Organisations need to promote flexibility in their structures. They need to create a system that identifies and builds internal capability and talent. Data is seen as the major advantage that organisations can turn to to drive this forward. Using periodical staff assessment tools, organisations can identify the avenues of future development – what skills does the person need to develop and how will they develop them, to grow within the organisation and into another role. Using similar tools, organisations can assess potential hires for their “coachability quotient” and learning capacity. What this means is that the candidate may not have the exact skills to perform the role today, but their ability to learn and be coached, will allow them to grasp the role quickly. Wouldn’t it be great if you were able to be hired for a role you knew you didn’t have the exact skills to do immediately, but you have the right attitude and learning ability to take on the task?
This provides a solution on how to combat the war for talent and is the right step in reducing the passive job seeker paradigm and build long term talent for organisations.