Talent Management

Talent Management: taking a holistic approach to address market challenges

By Deanna Lanoway, Executive Consultant

Changes to the Canadian employment landscape have been on the horizon for years and today are becoming a reality that businesses must manage.

Before the pandemic, we knew that by 2028 — just five years from now — 40% of Canada’s workforce population would be over 55 years. In 2008 that number was 31% (Employment & Social Development Canada, Canadian Occupational Projection System, 2019 Projections, Macroeconomic Outlook for 2019-2028).

We also knew that lower birth rates and an ageing population meant Canada’s continued growth would need to be powered by immigration. 

Then the pandemic happened and shifted demographic trends that were already significant, causing finding talent to be a leading business concern in 2022 (Stats Canada).

Our conversations with employers last year were focused on retention, including a focus on flexibility and rewards, however, ensuring your organization has enough skilled employees in this environment is a multi-faceted problem, so there won’t be a single solution.

When reading Harvard Business Review in January, we came across the article “Rethinking Your Employee Value Proposition” by Mark Mortensen and Amy C. Edmonson.

The authors highlighted the challenges employers face in deciding what actions to take when they said, “Leaders need to address the factors holistically to ensure that a focus on one doesn’t undermine another.”

HR leaders have been spinning to respond to the rapid changes in workplace priorities of late. To stabilize the availability of suitable workers for the future, your organization needs a systematic approach and a proactive plan, so you’re not always trying to respond to current fires.

Enter talent management.

Research examining the success of talent management has shown that the most successful firms tie talent management to their strategic priorities (Pamela Bethke-Langenegger, Philippe Mahler, and Bruno Staffelbach, Effectiveness of talent management strategies).

Organizations with a talent management strategy recognize that every aspect of the employee lifecycle impacts their ability to be fully staffed, productive, and proactive. HR leaders should ideally have input into the strategic priorities.

By ensuring they understand the labour market, HR leaders can inform the organization about things like where to expand and balancing revenue opportunities with the availability of talent.

What is talent management?

Talent management is a bit of an amorphous concept. We feel it includes the systematic approach to the following:

  • Attracting strong talent through employer brand and recruiting techniques.
  • Holistically identifying skills and aptitudes of employees.
  • Developing employee skills and competencies to meet their goals and the future objectives of the organization.
  • Determining how to best engage and reward employees to ensure productivity and a sense of belonging.
  • Retaining employees for an optimal period and deploying them through the organization in a way that provides the best value to the organization and keeps the employees the happiest.
  • Providing career development opportunities.
  • Providing an appropriate departure — whether that be an alumni program to keep your employer brand strong or flexible retirement options.

Talent management is really bringing several strategies together to support your organization and looking towards the future.

When you look at innovative firms, you see that product development is always forward-thinking. While the organizations may still respond to market trends, the strongest ones are leading the market and planning their offerings years before the market. Talent management offers organizations the same approach but instead, you are addressing one of the leading challenges that companies face today.

Looking to the future

The Canadian talent market will continue to change and challenge businesses. To attract and retain top talent, organizations must create inclusive and meaningful employee and work experiences. Organizations should consider taking a holistic, proactive approach to ensure priorities don’t compete, as Mortensen and Edmonson suggest. Top leaders in people and culture need to be at the table when strategy is being discussed and HR leaders should be willing to broaden their perspective from current challenges to the entire employee environment.

For support managing your talent needs, connect with People First HR. We focus on developing and nurturing deep, long-term relationships with clients by collaborating with our teams to bring the right industry, insight and knowledge to create customized solutions that allow your organization to thrive.

We’d love to learn about your organization’s unique people strategy and goals, to discover how we can best partner to support you.

Contact People First HR

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