November 20, 2023 By Jill Goldstein 5 min read

Advanced organizations know their greatest assets are their employees. However, keeping employees happy and engaged can be challenging, especially when considering available resources and the need to meet other organizational goals. An organization is only as strong as its talent pool, so organizations have increasingly embraced talent management as a core component of their overarching strategy. Identifying top talent and cultivating their ability to produce value for the organization is a business imperative.

Talent management, which often encompasses talent development, recruitment, onboarding and other facets of the employee lifecycle, is essential for keeping top talent happy. Consider the rise of the Great Resignation, where workers were more likely than ever to leave organizations or the workforce entirely. While reports vary on whether the Great Resignation is still happening, the memory remains. Thus, organizations are prioritizing talent management more than ever. According to McKinsey, many executives say it contributes to outperforming their competitors.

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Building an effective talent management strategy

Organizations cannot approach talent management initiatives with half-measures. Talent management needs to become a holistic part of the organization. That means the organization needs to identify the metrics it wants to track and create employee assessments to ensure it is tracking employee growth accurately.

Having a strong talent management process ensures that an organization is efficiently and effectively minimizing employee turnover, boosting performance and keeping employees happy. Here are the steps an organization should take to create an effective talent management strategy: 

Set a strong foundation 

To maximize a talent management system, an organization and its human resources team must make clear the importance of human capital as a key organizational asset. One way to do so is to invest in the organization’s “company culture,” where executives and the HR team demonstrate to employees how integral they are to the business, how they are part of a larger team, and how they and other team members can be comfortable to bring their authentic selves to work.

Doing so creates a halo for the organization to be known as an “employer brand.” This signals to new hires and future employees that they are joining an organization that has their priorities in mind. This is an underrated but smart way to increase an employee’s likelihood of making referrals, where existing employees are proud to recommend the organization’s former colleagues, friends and family.

Create the right organizational structure

Organizations that create and staff chief people officer (CPO) positions demonstrate they take talent management seriously and are willing to invest in the discipline. While CPOs often lead the HR department, their remits extend beyond. CPOs are often in charge of organizational culture, ensuring the organization uncovers and resolves unconscious bias in decision-making processes and other components arising during the entire employee lifecycle. By elevating an employee responsible for talent development to the C-suite, an organization demonstrates its people are a core asset.

Activate executive buy-in

Creating a winning talent management strategy requires an organization’s executives to advocate for the investment and to demonstrate their commitment by working directly with HR professionals.

Leading executives are increasingly aware that employees are a huge component of business success. Knowledgeable executives understand that strong talent management programs improve KPIs like employee retention percentages and employee satisfaction and decrease recruitment costs. Done right, talent management is a core component of an organization’s business strategy that aligns with key business goals such as revenue, profitability and cost control.

Demonstrate a strong approach during recruitment and onboarding

Talent management strategies begin before an organization ever hires someone. The talent acquisition phase is a crucial time to establish an organization’s talent management bonafides. Simple touches like easy-to-understand job descriptions, overall skill development opportunities and examples of how the organization cares for its employees all demonstrate to the right talent that they would be joining an employee-driven organization.

Every prospect should receive a clear picture of how the organization approaches talent management. This includes what skill sets the job requires, how the employees at the organization acquire new competencies or continue to learn more about existing skills, and how they will be judged on performance and career paths.

How the organization treats its new talent during the onboarding process sets the tone for their work at the organization and serves as a reflection of how the organization treats employees. Even in these early stages, solid talent management practices, such as employee engagement surveys and clear role expectations, can help establish a strong employee experience.

Prioritize the employee’s well-being and career growth

Successful talent management requires an organization to demonstrate through words and actions how it cares for its employees. It usually involves creating a positive work environment and communicating a message of mutual respect and equality. Employees are increasingly perceptive about whether their employer is contributing to their well-being, so it is important to match any promises with concrete action. There are many ways an organization can follow through, including mental health days, rules about communications after business hours, guest speakers and involving employees in the decision making about what benefits and training the organization should offer.

Supercharge the performance management strategy

Tracking and building employee performance is a critical component of any talent management strategy. No two employees are alike; even the best employees are likely to have a skill gap or two that their manager can and should help them resolve.

Organizations should invest in broad training programs to ensure the entire workforce has up-to-date skills. Going a step further, they can offer bespoke upskilling to the most promising and best talent, helping them excel at their jobs. It is also crucial to track results through performance reviews, surveys and more.

Embed workforce planning into everything

It may be hard to confront, but the harsh reality is that nearly every employee will leave an organization at some point. Whether they retire, take a new role at a competitor or switch fields because they want to pursue a new career, their departure can halt an organization’s momentum or create challenges.

Since many of these departures can happen out of the blue, it is never too early to begin thinking about succession planning, which is the process of identifying and preparing the best talent to replace executives who may leave because of retirement, a career switch or a better offer from another organization. Organizations should create robust mentoring programs where executives can help create a foundation for those who may replace them if they leave.

Ultimately, prioritizing talent management strategy is an organizational decision that, done right, will deliver ROI on any program costs. It is becoming an increasingly core component of an organization’s overarching business strategy. It is the right thing to do not only for an organization’s goals but also to ensure the employees who work hard are treated fairly and given the tools to succeed at their current jobs and beyond.

Talent management and IBM

From the global labor shortage to the widening skills gap, the battle for talent and skills requires HR leaders to evolve the way they serve the workforce and re-imagine the way they approach talent recruitment, job restructuring, skills development and employee experience.

On this journey, HR leaders face several challenges: balancing how to manage people, data and technology while also striving to meet the rising expectations for enhanced experiences and learning opportunities.

Generative AI presents the opportunity to influence enterprise transformation and help their business adopt technologies to better serve its people. IBM helps enterprises deliver customized experiences, apply data-driven insights, and develop impactful recruiting and adaptive skilling capabilities to establish a more modern HR function. We focus on each company’s unique business goals and challenges, dig deep to understand their workforce realities, and create strategies that unlock new levels of performance inside their business, helping deliver their vision and develop a skilled, sustainable workforce. With IBM, you can enhance employee engagement and productivity, reskill your workforce faster and re-imagine ways of working.

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