08/07/2013

By Andy Curlewis, Director of Brand, Digital & Communications at Ochre House.

It’s perhaps fair to say that while unemployment levels in many eurozone economies are still relatively high, the underlying global picture is one of talent shortage, particularly in sectors such as engineering, mining, pharmaceuticals and life sciences. Skilled talent in these industries is inexorably ageing and a combination of demographic shifts, an uncertain future and intense competition from the non-technical arena means that existing talent pools are proving incapable of making up the developing shortfall. The solution could lie in the development and accessing of global talent communities and talent pools. But what challenges will lie in the path of any organisation ambitious enough to take this new route to competitive people advantage?

When looking at the key resourcing challenges for many global businesses, the list is likely to consist of:

• The ‘retirement cliff’ presented by an ageing workforce
• Unpredictability in terms of demand for resources
• The opportunities and possible pitfalls of emerging markets
• Industry specific skills gaps
• Varying demographics
• The importance of diversification and transformation

To tackle these challenges there is a need for the alignment of human resources planning, overall business strategy, workforce segmentation, a departure from reactive recruitment and a move to pipelining and engagement based around an organisation’s EVP.

Sound difficult? Let’s break this down into three key elements to success:

1. Build talent pooling into business strategies — While the key business decision makers may feel talent pooling is a role for the HR team, in order to be truly effective this strategy must be integrated across the company, meaning there will need to be involvement from the management team. It is essential that the whole organisation understands the value of such an initiative and supports it in such ways as providing information and other material that will allow for ongoing engagement with target communities. And this means business leaders and HR teams working together to establish a robust and easy to grasp business strategy for talent pooling.

2. Consider the marketing needed to engage with the community – While there will always need to be an overall, fundamental employee value proposition when attracting and engaging with top talent, target audiences need to be segmented and communicated with through tailored messages in the same way that a marketing department would approach potential customer groups . CRM technology can play a huge role in achieving this but, whether it is employed in-house or outsourced, it will only be as good as its user. The quality of material that constitutes messaging is also paramount so must be put together by individuals with a real understanding of, and credibility, in the subject under discussion. However this does not always need to mean front-line technical personnel. Retired employees or those on parental leave could also be drafted in to provide assistance.

3. Understanding this is an essential, not a ‘nice to have’ – Getting talent pipelining and pooling right is likely to provide your company with a significant competitive advantage over the coming years. It will minimise risk to the business and equip it for the future, deliver all-important agility, foster innovation and enhance brand value. This is simply not a choice, it is an imperative. Talent pooling isn’t rocket science; it is not expensive and it is not difficult to get started. So the conclusion is — just do it!

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