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Industry Insights | 11 minute read

Finding the balance between tactical and strategic hiring   

April 19, 2022

The labor market is in a real state of flux and has been for quite some time. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better thanks to the escalating cost of living, rising inflation and the conflict in Ukraine. 

Steve Knox, VP of global talent acquisition at Ceridian; Jamie Allison, CEO at epitome and Ken Bowles, CFO at WilsonHCG, joined our latest roundtable as guest speakers. Hosted by Paul Dodd, head of Canadian engagement at WilsonHCG, the panel discussed the challenges of finding the balance between tactical and strategic hiring in what is the most competitive talent landscape in history. 

[People] Purpose and values are critical to attract and retain talent 

Make one-off business cases for strong hires  

What we heard: Paying high costs now for talent creates salary inequity later, so it must be done selectively and strategically.  

What we understood: Be cautious when offering inflated starting salaries, as pursuing extremes of buying your workforce vs building your current one risks losses later with counteroffers and attrition.   

What is required: Ensure current employees still feel valued through merit increases, market adjustments and other total rewards for the work they’re doing. The loyalty of staying through the pandemic should not be underrated. And consider sign-on bonuses for new employees to combat pay inequity. 

Still work to be done when it comes to managing virtually  

What we heard: Many companies didn’t invest in training and equipping managers with skills on how to properly manage teams in a virtual environment.  

What we understood: The quick, in-person informal check-ins (the watercooler moments) from the office aren’t possible virtually. This means managers must reevaluate how they follow up with employees with intention and thoughtfulness.  

What is required: A people-first philosophy is key to staying connected. Staying in touch with regular one-on-one employee meetings (both formal and informal), all-team meetings and encouraging team members to volunteer in other parts of the organization helps increase culture and connectivity. This extra effort goes a long way for nurturing virtual teams.  

Candidates need a hyper-personalized approach  

What we heard: While standardizing a world-class hiring experience is the goal for many talent acquisition functions, it turns out that making candidates feel special is still the secret sauce to both hiring and retention.   

What we understood: The personalized approach should be taken in the onboarding program, not just in the attraction and hiring stages.   

What is required: Recruiters must learn the unique drivers of every candidate and act accordingly in a hyper-personalized and authentic way to make a lasting impression. Additionally, onboarding should also be personalized and must deliver on the promises given during the candidate journey to foster long-term positive change in organizations.  

The earlier you start, the better: Why early career programs are essential  

What we heard: There’s been an increased focus on early career programs and campus recruitment.  

What we understood: Early career programs and campus recruitment have gone mainstream. Talent shortages have raised awareness of the importance of developing talent instead of just focusing on experienced hires.   

What’s required: Prioritize early careers programs (if you haven’t already) as experienced talent is in short supply and will continue to be for many years. Invest in learning and development at your company so that graduates participating in early careers programs can develop and progress to ensure your company has the skillsets it needs to move forward.  

Short stay works: The value contingent talent brings 

What we heard: Contingent talent was traditionally used to fill gaps on a short-term, interim basis until a permanent replacement could be found, but that’s no longer the case.   

What we understood: Employers are realizing the value contingent talent brings and that talented employees don’t have to stay with the business for years to make an impact.  

What’s required: Educate the C-Suite on the benefits contingent talent can bring. Let them know that they don’t have to hire someone for ten years to see ROI. Hiring someone who is only going to stick around for a year or two is okay and works especially well if you know that new skillsets will be required further down the line.   

Cultural alignment is still super important   

What we heard: Some companies are solely focusing on getting bums on seats and are not hiring candidates that align from a cultural perspective.  

What we understood: Companies need people stat but still need to consider cultural alignment or new starters won't stick around for long.  

What is required: Ensure candidates are a good culture fit. Be authentic in recruitment marketing and let your employees tell their career stories as candidates crave authenticity. If you don’t, you risk high employee turnover and potential damage to your employer brand when new starters realize they aren’t a good match culturally.  

Candidates demand flexibility  

What we heard: Today’s candidates demand flexibility on where and how they work.    

What we understood: Companies that provide flexible working and give their people the choice of how and where they work will find it easier to attract and retain talent than organizations that demand their workforce returns to the office.  

What is required: The Great Resignation is being driven by the desire for flexibility and a better work-life balance. Consider implementing a hybrid working arrangement as this will help you widen your talent pool and boost retention rates. And don't forget about existing talent – many may want to relocate if they know they don’t have to be office-based, so you’ll need to help facilitate this.  

[Process] Growing businesses mean agile hiring processes are even more important

The good news is that virtual is here to stay and it is helping to enable faster hires while improving employee experience.  

It’s not all about flying first class  

What we heard:  Talent acquisition is no longer being viewed as a tactical function by the C-Suite. Many have realized that talent acquisition is a strategic solution, however, execs still think hiring more recruiters means they can hire more people.  

What we understood: Talent leaders need to prioritize the areas of talent acquisition that would benefit from investment and then they need to make it clear what impact this will have on the wider business. They need to advise the C-Suite on what’s next and act as a true consultant.  

What is required: Explain the options for investment and what it will mean in terms of business impact. For example, a small talent acquisition budget will be like flying economy, you won’t get much for your money. However, if talent leaders can spell out what a bigger investment could do, they’re more likely to secure executive buy-in to fly first class, so to speak and ensure a more strategic talent function.  

[Platform] Lack of HR tech development leaves much to be desired

There was a lot of promise related to talent acquisition and HR tech platforms but there’s been a lack of development that hasn’t led to the enhanced capability that talent leaders thought it would

Talent acquisition tech still needs fine-tuning  

What we heard: Not all talent acquisition technology is generating efficiencies.  

What we understood:  Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning haven’t delivered as many efficiencies in talent acquisition as anticipated.  

What is required: Careful consideration about what objectives you’re trying to achieve before investing in new talent acquisition technology, especially when it comes to AI. And make sure you test any tech you implement heavily before implementation to ensure it is reliable and will meet the objectives you’ve set.

About Paul Dodd

Paul Dodd is the head of Canadian engagement for WilsonHCG. Paul helps organizations, across a spectrum of sizes and industries, realize their unique talent needs by combining global knowledge with specialized Canadian expertise. He is a recognized thought leader with more than 20 years of practical experience. Under Paul's leadership, WilsonHCG has developed a range of customized, strategic recruitment solutions that shorten the recruitment life cycle while driving value for for each client. Paul continues to push for greater innovation in recruitment solutions development, while emphasizing the need for customer service and comprehensive support.