Hot topic – Talent & Reward

As senior level HR recruiters we spend our days talking to HR professionals about the issues and challenges they are facing, and how they’re tackling them. During Q4 of 2012 Artis HR canvassed the opinion of HR Directors and senior HR leaders from major organisations to find out how they aim to remain successful and improve company performance during 2013. A focus on talent management and getting reward right came across strongly.

Candidate Attraction Strategy

Quality recruitment is clearly critical to business success, whatever the discipline or level. Often, though, recruitment methodology is no more sophisticated than looking for those competencies deemed appropriate to the role based purely on what somebody (subjectively) thinks is right. Actually taking the time to objectively assess the data (performance reviews, business results, exit interviews etc) and identify what a successful employee actually looks like for your own business is, admittedly, more involved than this intuitive approach. However, those organisations who are clearer about precisely what sort of person – as well as what skills – are right for them tend to have the better recruitment outcomes… both in the sense of ‘hiring right first time’, and in terms of ongoing retention, engagement and performance.

Once you know what you’re looking for, the right combination of dedicated in-house resourcing plus close working relationships with a select few niche recruitment partners helps you build up a talent pipeline that’s right for your business. Given the costs (visible and hidden) of recruitment, and the time commitment needed, this partnership approach tends to offer greatest success and best value for money.

Succession Planning

Succession planning, particularly at leadership level, has become more of a hot topic of late as businesses think hard about both growth and risk. It is clear that building structured people development plans around anticipated business need gives an organisation greater confidence that it has the capability to deliver on its plans. Whilst many succession plans tend to focus (rightly) on developing existing talent, it must be remembered that bringing in ‘fresh blood’ is also a vital element of planning for the future.

Looking at things from a different perspective, good succession planning also presents a very positive message to your employees – not simply because investment in career development and ‘training’ is generally well-received, but also because good succession planning offers a welcome degree of transparency as to future business plans. It’s often this openness around business strategy that is the biggest driver in improving engagement, raising levels of respect and trust in senior leadership, incentivising performance and achieving better retention of top talent.

A rigorous approach to creating succession plans that both meet business need and appeal to the aspirations of top talent makes eminent business sense, but do remember to share the ‘future state’ vision with employees to give context to the plan.

Compensation and Benefits

Rewarding and recognising the value of people and the contribution they make is critical to the effective retention of talent, and in turn to the performance of the business. Across the board organisations are constantly looking for low-cost innovative solutions to incentivise their staff.

A number of organisations we spoke to from the Financial Services sector are in the process of revising their incentive schemes to fall in line with new FSA regulations. Many other employers are keen to promote the flexibility of their packages in order to compete, with modular elements selected to build a bespoke solution. The introduction of pensions auto-enrolment is also providing challenges to larger organisations, and this will flow through the wider market in the coming months. The general desire, though, is to use innovative reward strategies to keep top performers… albeit set against a backdrop of challenging economic circumstances and limited budgets.

We’d observe that, often, the key lies in providing the kind of reward that people are really motivated by rather than focussing overly on the value of that reward. Those organisations offering appropriate variety and choice in reward seem best able to match the business need to incentivise with the employee desire to be rewarded.

Involving employees in creating your reward strategy, and then actively communicating the benefits of that strategy back into the organisation will provide the best outcome.