Winning the War on Talent

Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

As a corporate psychologist with experience across a variety of industries, I have witnessed it all. I have seen CEOs throw tantrums (and phones) like toddlers, watched underground mineworkers fling human excrement at one another, and represented large corporates in court as a subject matter expert in unfair dismissal trials. These companies would contract me to help improve everything from policy to practice and ensure culture, competence, and behaviours are aligned with corporate objectives.

Through these work assignments, I spent a lot of time with companies and their executives on the so-called “psychologist’s couch”. Understanding what makes these companies tick and how they operate is by far what I enjoyed the most. Amidst the various workplace issues I heard about and worked through, the number one problem organisations continue to have is the inability to find and retain the right talent.

In an October 2006 cover story, “The Search for Talent,” The Economist notes “unsuccessful hiring is the single biggest problem in business today.” Furthermore, The Harvard Business Review points out that as much as 80 percent of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions and recruitment practices.

Having owned two businesses myself, I agree with these statements wholeheartedly. Not only is it difficult to find skilled and qualified employees, it’s also extremely challenging to know which candidates to entrust with the brand of your business, its ethos, and who will drive your corporate culture forward.

When discussing talent sourcing with corporates, they often compare this problem to “finding a needle in a haystack”: a task near impossible when faced with piles and piles of CVs. Put simply — there is a war for talent and we’re losing the battle across every industry sector. More than ever, recruitment solutions are failing us by making talent acquisition more expensive, more confusing, and ineffective at identifying the right people.

Despite what some might think, over the last 30-years there has been significant change in how businesses recruit and hire employees. Unfortunately, these recruitment solutions are not keeping pace with the changing nature of the workforce, and are instead hindering organisations from making good and timely hiring decisions.

What is changing, and changing rapidly, is the nature of employment. We are seeing a complex division of labour that is separating the modern workforce, with rudimentary low-wage jobs on one end, and high-skill, high-wage careers on the other. We are witnessing the death of Jack-of-all-trades with organisations looking to hire employees that are more skilled, better qualified, and verified specialists in their roles.

Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

Why is this happening?

Many of the jobs that exist now didn’t exist 30-years ago. For example: computer programmers, computer system analysts, fitness instructors and medical technicians were, for most part, not relevant in the 1970s. This also rings true for even some of the most seemingly mundane or unlikely jobs, like forklift operators now being required to have specialist licenses, competencies, and authorisations before landing the job.

Adding complexity is the recognition that employee-organisation compatibility is defining the success of companies in the 21st century. Research shows that recruiting for culture fit could have benefits that include higher productivity, higher profitability, lower employee turnover, lower absenteeism, and greater job satisfaction. While true, most organisations struggle to understand the concept of culture let alone operationalise it for better recruitment practices.

From a recruitment perspective, these changes demand organisations to adopt more targeted, granular, and holistic strategies than ever before. Yet, while recruitment practices have evolved over last few decades from recruiter databases and cold calling to online job posting boards and candidate market places, current offerings are still fairly unintelligent when it comes to automated candidate-job fit and organisation fit screening. Solutions such as job posting boards and candidate market places have only increased the amount of information that recruiters need to sort through without offering much by way of intelligent candidate filtering.

It’s so overwhelming that employers are now taking twice as long to hire staff, pushing the average time needed to fill a position to 68-days, up from 26-days in 2010.

A report by management advisory company CEB, of 900 recruiters and 6000 hiring managers globally, found between 2010 and 2015 the average time it took to fill a position increased more than 50 percent. Even further, CEB estimates that the average vacancy cost equates to upwards of $500 a day per open position. When compared to the average organisation’s time to fill, it amounts to a loss of over $34,000 in lost productivity and recruiting costs within the 68-day time period.

That’s a lot of wasted time and money.

It is my opinion that current recruitment solutions are still defined by transactional practices that have commoditised the entire industry. They are using generic approaches that, for most part, have remained unchanged and untailored to the specificity required for different job types and industry sectors. It appears that regardless of industry, the same formula used for vague imprecise job advertisements, poorly developed criteria, and ineffective candidate screening methodologies undermine recruitment globally. Most recruitment solutions compete either for job advertisements or candidate numbers as oppose to solving the real problem at hand: finding and matching great humans to unique jobs and organisational requirements. It’s as simple as that.

We need an advancement of intelligent recruitment solutions that focus at the industry, organisational, job, and person fit levels. We need automated solutions that are able to process big data to help recruiters identify and select employees that have the right technical abilities and work DNA to match their unique organisational cultures and industry sectors. We need these solutions to create ecosystem partnerships with job posting boards and candidate market places to serve up the best candidates, thereby unifying recruitment.

That’s why we built Shortlyster. Shortlyster is the next evolution in recruitment; it’s the magnet that will help you find the needle in the haystack. Our platform is underpinned by best practice organisational psychology and behavioural science principles that enable businesses to identify, match, and rank order candidates who best fit their jobs, work teams, and cultures. We use data analytics, algorithms, and machine learning technology to compare and contrast candidates on personal, job, and organisational fit requirements. Shortlyster is a lead funnel that captures complete candidate information and how they are likely to fit and operate within your organisation.