Complete Guide to HR Strategy: Recruitment & Talent Management (With Examples)
Bringing the right people into an organisation and developing them within the structure is one of the most rewarding aspects of the HR job function.
Recruiting well and managing talent effectively has the potential to save a business substantial amounts of money. High staff turnover costs productivity and recruitment fees, with the cost of an outside hire often much higher than an existing member of staff.
Here, we’ll cover the main areas you should consider when building your recruitment and talent management strategy, along with examples of successful strategies from real organisations.
The employee experience starts the moment that they apply to a vacancy within your company. The recruitment and selection process should be designed to ensure that the outcome is the right employee for the role.
Through the following steps, you’ll create a recruitment process that does just that.
It’s important to understand the value of employer branding, as this will give you a wider, more engaged talent pool of candidates.
Employers that go over and above, offering alternative leave and other perks, will often make the headlines. This increases their number of applications and makes jobs at the company more desirable.
If there’s a candidate pool that you’re interested in attracting, such as graduates or millennials, use their values and communication methods to encourage this. Ensure that your values and culture are accurately represented, otherwise those that are attracted to apply may not be happy with their working life if the two are misaligned.
- Target candidates – who do you want/need in your talent pool? What appeals to them?
- Employer Value Proposition (EVP) – what do employees love about working for you? What can you offer candidates? This blog post from TalentLyft explains the subject really simply but in great depth!
- Communications/implementation strategy – how will you will you communicate your brand to your target audience? Ideas include:
- Build a career site
- Publish employee stories
- Optimise your job descriptions
- Streamline your applications process
- Build an employee advocacy programme
- Challenges – is there anything harming your employer brand, such as negative Glassdoor reviews, and what are the potential solutions?
- Metrics and KPIs – how will you measure progress and success?
Siemens struggled with a prevalent employer image of outdated values and old-fashioned recruitment methods. To shake off this image, they launched the Future Makers campaign.
They kicked this off through blogging directly to their audience on Medium, while emphasising the individual identities of those that worked in the company. This also announced a refresh of their company colours and a rigorous social media campaign popularised this further.
They also launched Siemens 360°, which used virtual reality to tell the stories of employees and show new hires what working in their company looked like.
- 55% increase in visits to the Siemens job portal.
- 67% increase in average time spent on their job portal.
- 99% of existing employees said that they were more connected to the business and its mission.
Advertising and Outreach
Now that you have your ideal applicant in mind, it’s time to devise the way that you’re going to get the job on their radar. There are a variety of ways to reach your audience, so carefully measure which ones make the most sense for you.
These outreach methods could include recruitment at universities, job centres, social media, niche job boards, referrals from current employees and more. Weigh up the costs versus the type of targeted candidate application that will come from this.
When it comes to applications, you should also consider how you want candidates to send these. Some employers are happy to receive emails with a CV, but others employ in depth application forms. There are appropriate situations for both; an application form may give you more information for senior level roles but accepting CVs may gain more applications for less experienced positions.
Recruitment challenges can make it difficult to fill certain roles, whether this is because of the job itself or external factors like the location.
Within your strategy, you should outline the steps that you will take to mitigate these challenges. This may involve researching competing employers in the area, considering new perks or allowing more flexibility in the role.
There are many methods that you can use to filter down the applications that you receive. If you’re expecting a large number of applicants, then you can use digital selection methods to filter these by keyword.
Telephone and Skype interviews can be useful for early fact finding about the candidate and their suitability for the role. In person interviews require a time commitment from the employer and the candidate, so before you invest this you may want to iron out the finer details.
Early psychometric tests can help you to learn more about these candidates, as you can fit them within a matrix for the job. They answer a series of questions designed to filter them into different categories, then you can assess which qualities are most desirable for the role.
Setting up an assessment centre can also filter candidates by skillset. Role play environments, skills tests and group activities can distinguish candidates. Remember, this also requires a time commitment from the applicant so determine whether this is salient to the role and don’t ask for too much of a commitment in these early stages.
Assessing the talent pool is complex and unconscious bias can creep in. In order for teams to function to their full ability, they should be diverse and include members from many backgrounds.
Ironing out unconscious bias in the selection stage can give you a better roster for interviews. Blind selection, in which the hiring manager views CVs with identifying information redacted, is one of the easiest ways to combat these biases.
Consider each candidate to the same degree and attempt to weigh up differing experience levels. Skills tests can also be used to give more practical insight into how the candidate would perform within the role.
To improve minority representation in leadership roles, BP undertook numerous measures to reduce hiring bias. They encourage their hiring managers to build diverse interviewing panels and candidate list. They require this from their external hiring partners as a pre-requisite.
They continued to raise awareness of this initiative through events targeted towards these minorities and workplace practices that prompted new behaviour among existing staff.
- 7% increase of women in leadership roles.
- 3% of people appointed to leadership roles were either women, from outside of the UK and US or identified as a being part of a racial minority.
- 70% of employees reported that they believed the company had created an environment where people from different backgrounds can succeed.
Bias may become an issue in the interview stage, as it’s not easy to maintain anonymity at this stage. There are many ways to counter this, for example using hiring panels and psychometric testing.
The CIPD suggests careful, consistent questioning of all candidates that feeds into a scoring system. However, they caution interviewers to allow some flexibility to ensure that supplemental questions can be asked where required.
As part of an overall strategy to reduce staff attrition, staff at Haley Conference Centres were given new guidelines for talent selection and management. These were updated to more accurately reflect the brand values and assess whether candidates had a track record of displaying these competencies.
Their interview process was upgraded to comprise of an initial telephone interview, interviewing panel and then a final one-to-one with a line manager.
One in eight candidates progress from the telephone stage to the panel, at which time they’re asked a standard script of 50 questions. The candidates are then scored to assess whether they can show they have displayed 11 key behaviours; one in 15 make it through to the next stage.
The line manager that the candidate would report to conducts the final ‘fit’ interview. This is the first time that they are involved in the process, as other managers are involved in the panel stage to ensure impartiality.
- Staff attrition reduced from 85% to 32% in under two years.
- Improved customer satisfaction scores.
With these interviewing processes being designed to get the right candidate into the role, the next step is to develop them through their employment. Actively managing their experience within the company and their progression is a key part of any HR strategy.
This allows organisations to grow their own talent and cut costs associated with recruitment. It requires HR to encourage line managers to fact find and advocate for their employees. To make this possible, a culture shift and further training may be necessary for managers.
Enhancing the Employee Experience
Though giving employees opportunities to upskill and develop will increase their engagement, the overall employee experience has to be positive for this to be effective.
While an employee may want to progress, a negative culture or poor benefits may prompt them to continue to look for opportunities elsewhere.
As well as providing room for growth, HR should work to address systemic issues within the organisation. Promoting respect for colleagues, assisting with work-life balance and supplemental perks don’t cost an organisation a lot of capital but they do greatly impact the employee experience.
Employees at John Lewis are known as Partners, as the employer encourages them to own their part of the business. They are also given annual bonuses, access to therapy, subsidised memberships in fitness clubs and other wellbeing initiatives.
Through a yearly report, the employer communicates with their employees regarding their working conditions and invites feedback. The employees are more engaged and likely to seek advancement within the company, as opposed to seeking advancement elsewhere.
In the retail sector, this organisation is seen as one of the more desirable to work for due to this commitment.
- 41,010 saved sick days due to physiotherapy initiative.
- John Lewis ranked as ‘Best Retailer to Work For’ in the UK by employees.
- 80% of staff retained for at least one year.
Robust succession planning minimises the risk that departing employees can have. Even in a positive workforce, employees will leave for new projects, retire or take extended leave.
By identifying successors in the workforce for senior positions and training them to take over when this time comes, the status quo of the organisation is maintained. This also plays into your employee engagement strategy, as providing training and promoting from within both help to increase satisfaction.
By identifying contenders for these roles in advance, the organisation is never put into the situation in which they must hire from outside at great cost or settle for an under-skilled employee. Training also ties into the employee experience, as 94% of employees would stay in a company longer if it invested in their career.
This steel production company placed an increased emphasis on their people to promote from within. They notched 11.3 million training hours globally to progress employees through their pipeline of future talent.
They describe this initiative as a performance management process, with feedback and further training available to help employees to meet their goals.
Career Committees within the organisation meet to create this feedback and identify excelling employees. Through six levels of moderation, the feedback is assessed and built on to ensure a fair process. Managers are instructed that implementing this process is their first objective, with year-end reporting of tangible results.
- 83% of job movement came from within the organisation.
- Of 120 internal promotions, 115 were rated as ‘fully meets expectations’ or above in staff reviews.
- Employee engagement rose from 62% to 69%.
As we’ve touched on, recruiting diverse team members is essential but this has to be complemented by correct management. Those with differing backgrounds and experiences must feel comfortable with contributing, otherwise the team will not benefit.
Hostile working conditions for minorities or a majority-focused culture will quickly dampen the impact of these diverse teams. Without correct management, these employees run the risk of becoming disengaged and leaving the company.
Instilling these values and working to battle unconscious bias in the workplace can promote a culture shift. Diverse employees must feel valued and prompt investigation should ensue after a report of discrimination.
Initiatives should also be in place to promote these diverse team members. Many leadership and board-level roles don’t feature diverse team members, so further encouragement and specific initiatives may be required to change this.
Diversity and identity are complex concepts, which can be difficult for HR to handle. Make sure that your HR department is adequately diverse and work with minorities in the workplace to understand the initiatives that would help them.
HR professionals at Whirlpool found that while they were hiring diverse team members, they were losing this talent quickly. To combat this, they launched a pilot scheme to identify issues in their company culture for diverse members of staff.
In the initial stages, they found that managers were less aware of issues than the employees, suggesting an issue with reporting and communication.
They encouraged managers to take action based on this feedback, using one-to-ones, referring employees to diversity networks and give recognition. These diversity networks allow employees to self-identify with groups to give them further support, such as the Whirlpool Asian Community, Awareness of Visible and Invisible Disabilities Group and Pride Network.
Managers were supported by focus groups, which reported positive results in the early stages. They learned more about employees outside of their own ethnic group, gender and sexuality.
They supplemented this programme with a further Champions for Change scheme, which was created with the intention of bringing more female employees into leadership roles.
- Attrition level of female employees reduced by 12% when enrolled in the programme.
- Attrition level of underrepresented minority employees reduced by 14% when enrolled in the programme.
- Whirlpool earns a perfect score on the 2019 Corporate Equality Index.
- Forbes names Whirlpool as a Best Employer for Diversity.
Flexible Working Initiatives
The CIPD notes that there’s a strong demand for flexible working among job seekers, with 87% of us seeking out flexible jobs. However, just 11% of those advertised allowed for flexible working, leaving a massive gap between supply and demand.
Employers with flexible working initiatives enjoy higher levels of employee engagement, increased discretionary effort, reduced absence rates and lower staff attrition. Employees also note that flexible working is a higher motivator than financial incentives to boost their productivity.
In response to the growing demand for flexible working initiatives, Cisco launched a new telecommuting policy that encouraged employees to exercise this perk autonomously.
They rolled out new technology and platforms to ensure that off-site employees are still able to communicate effectively with colleagues.
Through annual reviews and surveys, they found that flexible working attracted new candidates to their organisation and also provided their employees with a better work-life balance.
- Employees who work flexibly give back 60% of their reduced commute time to the organisation.
- Those who work flexibly are 22% more likely to be highly engaged employees.
- Estimated $227 million in productivity gains.
- Cisco was able to close unused office space and reduce emissions from commuting employees.
Example Talent and Recruitment Strategy PDFs
When building your own recruitment strategy, you might find it useful to review some examples from real organisations. Bear in mind that your strategy may look nothing like these – they’re very specific to the needs and challenges of their organisations, as yours should be!
- Peterborough County: Talent Management Strategy
- Avon and Somerset Police: Recruitment Strategy
- NHS Northern Devon: Recruitment and Retention Strategy 2015 - 2018
- NHS The Walton Centre: Recruitment Strategy 2015 - 2017
Recruitment and talent management are both essential to the employee experience. With concrete initiatives and measurable goals, HR can implement changes that really impact the bottom line of the organisation.
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