When it comes to talent, the big are winning and getting bigger. So, how can you get on the right side of the 'Great Talent Divide'?
The 1% phenomenon has now occupied the world of talent. The so-called ‘War for Talent’ is ending tamely. The big are winning and getting bigger. Everyone else, which probably includes you, is struggling to attract talent.
“While top companies are getting more productive, gains are stalling for everyone else. And the gap between the two is widening, with globalization and new technology delivering outsize rewards to the titans of the global economy.”
In addition to technology, talent flocks to big firms. While small firms think they are ‘awesome’, in reality, they are ‘consistently worse run'.
If your business has any dependency on digital technologies, you are already a victim of this ‘beggar-thy-neighbour’ trend.
This trend is reflected in outcomes such as high price for talent, high attrition, compromise on quality and delay in finding people.
What can you do about this great talent divide?
1. Reverse the demand-supply equation
As you face a situation of short supply, your response is to pay a higher price. You soon realise that no price is high enough. Talent is just not looking in your direction. It is lining up at the doors of big-tech. Your conclusion is: “I need to build my employer brand.” You turn from the talent acquisition team to the marketing team. You just made the familiar ‘frying pan to fire’ leap.
While brand and price are valid concerns, you are probably overlooking the nature of work that you offer. Even in the current oligarchy of talent, smart people want smart work. There are plenty of people, smarter than the hordes at playful campuses of big tech, toiling away at shared spaces of small teams, pursuing an interesting goal.
If the nature of work you offer is interesting, you will suddenly experience a reversal of the demand-supply equation in your favour.
2. Redesign your business model
If you are consistently unable to attract the right talent, that may be a sign. Is your business model unable to draw out the right value from high quality talent? You may not have a price problem. You may have a value problem. You may be looking for digital talent but deploying digital labour.
High quality digital talent thrives in a business that creates high profit per employee. In a shortage economy, when the price of talent is high, it is obvious that its deployment must generate high revenue.
3. Re-orient your leadership and organisation
Shoe-horning current talent in a legacy organisation or a traditional leadership environment is waste of value all around.
Transforming your strategy without transforming your organisation reflects lack of conviction or a disproportionate influence of legacy leaders. If a reputation about unfulfilling work or a heavily directive leadership is built into the market, it will be difficult to do a makeover.
4. Hunting to farming
Let us be realistic. Business models cannot be transformed overnight. Even after transformation is over, you may find yourself competing in the middle price bracket, unable to attract top talent. In this scenario, you will have to invest in building your own talent.
Your source of talent will shift to campuses that have smart talent and an unpretentious brand. Investment dollars will be allocated to in-house training and time on bench. The strategy would shift from hunting to farming.
Yes, talent likes to live where the action is. Maybe you cannot physically relocate to access talent conglomerations. But you can virtually relocate by building partnerships with talent supply organisations. Such a capability is not easily built in organisations rooted in an ‘employer-employee’ model. Yet those that build it will move fast past their own frustrations.
6. Reputation, not brand.
Talent is connected to talent. In this networked world, word spreads fast.
You may not have a great brand; but the nature of work, a high value environment and a smart organisation design can help build a reputation for you.
That is all you need to play successfully in this great talent divide: A good reputation.
The big are winning and getting bigger. Everyone else, which probably includes you, is struggling to attract talent.