Even in times when there is no “great reshuffle”, recruiting perfect or unicorn candidates in some talent tight industries is very difficult and expensive. In our current talent short market, it is looking to be impossible.
Instead of throwing increasingly more resources at un-successful recruitment efforts, companies should apply creative approaches to build organisation capacity and capabilities.
Organisational Development is King
For many businesses, organisation and work processes are usually developed around the capabilities and capacity of existing staff. In the event these staff members leave, the company would try to replace employees “like for like” and keep the tasking and processes the same. In the current tight labour market there can be extended delays to find a suitable candidate.
Instead of continuing to seek the ‘perfect’ replacement candidate, management teams can undertake organisational change to adjust tasks, responsibilities and processes. With changes to the organisational structure, staffing requirements can be adjusted to meet talent availability.
Some additional benefits associated with undertaking organisational change can be efficiency gains, capacity building and options to apply automated solutions.
- Review the position to be replaced, check responsibilities, tasks and processes consider if the tasks all fit one position or can be re-allocated, cancelled or automated.
- Consider the future direction of the business and capacity / capability requirements going forward.
- Taking existing and future requirements in mind, new staffing structures and needs can be established. This may result in only one position, or needs to staff for two positions.
A couple of our clients have been struggling to fill positions within their company for up to 6 months and not able to attract the right person. We worked with them to look at the current organisation and what they wanted in the future and the position they wanted to replace. With this in mind, instead of one position we restructured tasks across existing positions and was able to recruit for a new position that was easier to fill.
Capability Development – Upskill / Re-skill
When considering the options to fill a vacancy, existing employees should be considered as a priority. After assessing organisational requirements, it is possible that the new positions or tasks could be filled by existing employees and require limited training or up-skilling.
Promoting and developing internally allows the company to ensure capacity and capabilities are aligned closely to the company’s needs. Existing company knowledge and relationships allow newly promoted staff to be effective quickly. Depending on how new tasks are structured, existing staff will become more effective in cross function project teams, or on short term secondment.
Retention strategies are also supported by internal capacity building, as a lack of development opportunities is one of the biggest reasons employees leave.
As business strategies change and new future capabilities are required, the shortage of skilled workers makes re-skilling the existing workforce the most cost effective and efficient option.
While it is likely a company will not have all the skills and knowledge it needs internally and will need to acquire new capabilities. There are plenty of ways to do this, one way is to hire in a new permanent employee, another is to bringing in a qualified ‘retired’ professionals and task them with up-skilling existing employees. The second option is particularly useful when a company needs to ‘rediscover’ lost knowledge and capabilities.
- Before hiring externally, assess internal skills and consider up-skilling or reskilling.
- Maintain a skills / capability database and have an active talent management plan.
- Consider employee career or development wants, assess how that fits into corporate plan and look at active development of new capabilities.
An E.L Blue client had ‘forgotten’ its manufacturing roots, and needed to rebuild this capacity to meet its strategic goals. After extensive assessment, it was decided to blend old with new, and to ‘train-up’ a couple of modern manufacturing young guns under the tutelage of ‘retired’ old school manufacturing professionals. This approach provided an intense transfer of knowledge and a quick rebuild of company capabilities.
Instead of keeping positions vacant, assess existing employees and consider devloping them for the future.
Back-fill – continuing to build capacity
In the first two steps we have changed tasking and responsibilities and up-skilled existing staff to take on these responsibilities. These activities will either ‘promote’ or move staff away from existing tasks, this will result in vacancies that need to filled. The expectation is that the roles and responsibilities to be back-filled will require less skilled or qualified talent, and hence be easier and cheaper to recruit.
- Hire for potential and longevity, with future needs in mind.
- Highlight career / job development when recruiting. Use internal cases as examples.
- Be constantly on the lookout for potential junior hires.
E.L Blue worked with a client to undertake organisational design, which allowed the client to training and promote existing staff to fill roles they had been unable to fill. The vacancies left by the promotions and changes were able to be replaced quickly and cost effectively.
Whats old is new again
This is not new and historically companies have developed their talent internally. However this is often regarded as a slow, involved and expensive process, an many companies require quick results that replacing ‘like for like’ or bringing in new blood can bring.
Given the difficulty of replacing ‘like for like’ talent, it is a case of ‘what’s old is new again’ and businesses have to reconsider talent development and capacity building.