Challenge: Finding — and Keeping — a Skilled Workforce

By Greg Moran

Apr. 22, 2015

When it comes to finding talent, there’s no doubt about it — we now have unprecedented access and an ever-increasing degree of sophistication. That’s why the term “bad hire” should be considered an oxymoron. And, for some forward-thinking executives, it already is.

Whether discussing an established Fortune 500 or an innovative startup, there is no greater predictor of future success than a streamlined workforce, dedicated to its mission and willing to stay on board through the good and bad. Finding the best employees to run your company and retaining them in the face of rapidly shifting personal and professional needs, a fickle marketplace and poaching competitors might feel something akin to trapping a unicorn, but it’s really not that magical.

There’s nothing wrong with the tried and true unless it prevents you from attempting the new. Hiring practices have historically relied almost solely upon the passive gathering of old information, with an eye toward making the best judgment possible about an individual’s future. Regardless of how skilled your recruiters’ intuition for talent is, this approach relies too much on guesswork and conjecture, factors that can now be mitigated using advanced metrics and sophisticated data collection techniques.

According to Jean-Paul Issonat Monster Worldwide, looking at projections based on everything from geographical preference to outside hobbies, predictive analytics can help match potential employees to their ideal position within your company. For the traditionally minded, this may sound like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, but ignore these advancements at your own risk.

Find Your Talent and Keep It

Once you’ve assembled your dream team, it’s incumbent on you to make sure they stick around. Because you’ll be working with the best talent at the top of their game, your competition is likely going to try to steal your people. The best and brightest are also the most likely to be restless, and if they start to get bored, they may begin looking elsewhere. You can foster loyalty and engagement if you do the following:


  • Accommodate their lifestyles. Wherever possible, try to give your employees flexibility. Options include allowing them to work from home, providing on-site child care or alternative work scheduling. According to a meta-analysisfrom Global Workplace Analytics, telecommuting and similar flex options are considered a huge employee perk. 
  • Provide incentives.Health and other insurance benefits are baseline incentives that will keep workers on board. But you should consider other options as well, including offering employees a stake in the company. If they have a literal investment in the company, they are going to want to see it succeed. Carol Tice explainsthat offering equity stakes in the company often results in better employees, a more successful company and might also save you a few bucks. If you aren’t in a position to parcel out stock options, fear not; there are other incentives that are much less complicated to give on a regular basis and are guaranteed to please your staff. Business Management Daily suggests that simple things like employee recognition programs, offering benefits packages bespoke to your employees’ generational needs, or even just hosting an employee appreciation day will ensure continued excellence and loyalty. 
  • Stay ahead of the curve. According to John Sullivan, as the field of predictive analytics advances, you’ll be able to employ data to your advantage. Predictive analytic tools are now able to tell you which applicants are likely to fail early on, which are likely to become obsolete or redundant, and which are most likely to get burned out. Staying one step ahead of your employees will allow you to fix problems before they happen.


Remember the Hidden Costs

Failure to keep your talent gets expensive quickly. Fred Yager, editor at, provides compelling evidence suggesting that a bad management hire can result in massive employee turnover, lowered morale, and the need to start projects over from scratch. And don’t be afraid to challenge your employees. According to the Harvard Business Review, giving your workers new responsibilities is the No. 1 way to retain them. Employees typically welcome a challenge, so if you allow them to stagnate, they can become frustrated and impatient with the company. The last thing you want is your top talent looking at opportunities being offered by your direct competition.

In short, there’s no magic involved at all in finding and retaining the best and brightest — just a keen business mind, a good heart, and an eye always, always turned towards progress.

Greg Moran is the founder and president of He is the author of “Building the Talent Edge and Hire, Fire & The Walking Dead.” Comment below or email Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.

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