Spring is the kind of season that floods the senses – in a good way. After a long, wet and cold winter, many of us look forward to getting outside in our communities and breathing in the scent of freshly spread mulch. Neighbors tend to their beds, with attentive watering and weeding. Soon, they reap the rewards of their efforts, with the colorful and fragrant blooming of azaleas, forsythias, herbs and assorted veggies.
I believe one of the main reasons many people enjoy gardening is because it requires constant care. You can’t simply stick some seeds in the dirt and walk away. You must nurture your plants, every day. And when they start sprouting, you feel a sense of achievement and pride.
Developing an enriched talent pool is much like this. You can’t apply a “set it and forget it” mindset to your recruiting, onboarding and training programs. As with gardening, you need to “get your hands dirty” (again, in a good way!). You must proactively seek out internal and external position candidates with the most in-demand skills and match them to anticipated openings. These openings may surface immediately, or weeks or even months down the road. So you have to engage candidates for extended time periods. In succession planning, for example, a Baby Boomer who hints at retiring soon might change her mind after realizing she’s not ready for the transition. Thus, her position stays filled for a year or even longer. Until she leaves, you should provide routine status updates to her possible successors, so they don’t get discouraged about being kept “in limbo” indefinitely.
This level of high engagement can drain time and resources. But it doesn’t have to be that way, not when people analytics can capture and maximize the value of your HR data, in a consolidated, streamlined manner. Through analytics, you improve the visibility of all of the key information related to your pool, such as names, personal interests, employment history, professional contributions/goals, contact preferences, educational background, etc. Your subsequent command of this intelligence will lead to an excellent “harvest,” especially when you incorporate analytics into the following best practices:
Conduct a continuing conversation. Talking to your plants on an ongoing basis can result in healthier growth, some experts say. Similarly, a continuing conversation with candidates will build a vibrant talent pool. Take advantage of newsletters, social media and even old-fashioned emails to keep in touch with internal and external candidates. Highlight recent milestones, as well as accomplishments of your staffers, to convey the message that your organization recognizes individual achievements. For more personalized engagement with outside prospects, send occasional emails to say, for instance, “We’re still very interested in your availability for a future opening … Is there anything you’d like to know about our organization or the potential position? Please feel free to update us about any new professional experiences/milestones you’d like to share.”
The continuing conversation can involve plenty of legwork if you rely solely upon manual processes to conduct it. That’s why people analytics proves essential. You can customize these solutions for proactive alerts, for example, to remind you to send personalized emails on a regular basis.
Update webpages. First impressions matter, of course, which is where your organization’s website home pages and employment pages enter the picture. In-demand millennials get turned off quickly when they click on a site that looks like something out of the last century, with static pages and an over-reliance on text. These Millennials are drawn to interactive, multi-media experiences. According to research from the Talent Board, 44 percent of job seekers say that they need time to evaluate an employer before applying for a position. By investing into the design and engineering of a modern, dynamic site, you ensure an immediate, appealing impression of your organization’s culture. Analytics will assess quantitatively whether you’re enhancing the user experience through your efforts (by providing traffic, “share” and other user activity data).
Commit to training. Clearly, this refers to your internal pool. Deploy analytics to find out which promising, current staffers are requesting training/professional development. Then use analytics to dig deeper, to explore whether these employees are looking to hone specific, vocationally focused “hard” skills, or “softer” skills related to communications and leadership. In addition, analytics can identify which training formats (in-person or online) work best, not to mention “out-of-the-box” opportunities such as the cross-training of targeted talent pool members on department-wide capabilities/needs and/or offering them temporary assignments that expose them to a new area of your organization.
Unlike gardening, it’s always “in season” to tend to your talent pool. Year-round, you should come up with well-researched and thoughtful strategies, and then pursue them with effective, proactive execution. Fortunately, you don’t have to devote an abundance of time and resources in “nurturing the plants” here. Analytics solutions will eliminate steps while strengthening your connections to internal and external candidates, extending your capacity to engage. That’s when your talent pool “bed” grows into a constant source of value, transforming job contenders into critical contributors to your organization’s strategic goals.
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