How to Win the War for Talent

  • Heidi Hofer
  • August 11, 2021
How to Win the War for Talent

The world of work is outdated. This has become increasingly obvious in recent years—and then the pandemic hit and the need for a new normal became even more urgent.

One of the biggest things business leaders should have been paying attention to is the war for talent.  This refers to an increasingly competitive landscape for recruiting and retaining talented employees. 

The war for talent isn’t a problem requiring an HR solution, but a change in mindset that the right talent can improve an organization’s profitability.

Now we are faced with new challenges that we’ve never seen before. When it comes to the war for talent, it’s about fixing more than one problem. It’s about re-inventing the world of working—how work and the rest of life intersect. How do we consider and value work, purpose, profit, sustainability, family, and life quality? 

That is to say that in order to win the war for talent, companies will have to truly reinvent work. 

Why Companies Aren’t Winning the War for Talent

The way that most companies have traditionally viewed talent simply doesn’t work anymore. There is an outdated belief that employees are happy with a traditional 9-5 and steady and secure employment. But things have changed. Younger generations like Millennials want flexibility, perks, and work-from-home arrangements. 

In fact, almost all people, regardless of generation, want the same things out of their work environments according to an HBR study

“The goal of new work is not to free people from work, but to transform work so that it produces free self-determined human beings.” (Frithjof Bergmann, Founder of the New Work Movement)

The problem is that most companies are not good at offering what their employees want. From a strategic perspective, it makes sense that businesses want the best talent to maximize profit. However, that’s the exact reason why many companies struggle to hire the best talent. They don’t understand—and therefore are unable to offer—the things that really help people to thrive. 

We still see far too many instances of awful recruiting processes, bad leadership, and outdated performance management. Additionally, it’s incredibly common to pay for hours instead of skills, which doesn’t result in getting the best talent. 

Very strict hiring rules such as only hiring permanent or full-time roles are also very “inside the box” thinking and can hold organizations back. 

New Tactics to Win the War for Talent

Re-inventing the world of work is no small task. To attract the best talent, business leaders should be prepared to change their culture and their mindset. CEOs ready to take a radical but successful approach should do the following: 

There are many studies that show how this increases productivity. Clients in the past have shared that moving to this setup increased productivity, life quality, and overall well-being of staff. 

  • Invest (a lot) in great leadership. 

We’ve all been there: a bad leader can make your life miserable and have a negative effect on performance. People tend to join companies because of compelling leaders and leave because of difficult ones. Mediocre leaders will turn off top talent as soon as they interview. 

  • Move away from traditional hiring models.

Companies that only consider permanent and full-time employees risk missing out on top talent. To improve the quality of new hires, consider each skills gap and role individually and consider permanent, freelancer, part-time, and remote resources.

If you implement these three measures, you might just win the war for talent. 

Create a Roadmap for Transforming People & Culture

In addition to the tactical measures above, winning the war for talent requires an overall mindset shift. If you really want to hire the best talent, you need to go beyond HR and transform all areas that touch people and culture. Our society’s current obsession with performance and profitability tends to lead businesses in the wrong direction. The future is about fast adaptability and a growth mindset—and these things are only achievable with a strong workforce.

The key is to create a clear roadmap that addresses areas like recruiting, onboarding, leadership, talent development, performance management, compensation, etc. To build that roadmap, it’s essential to pay attention to what people are asking for when it comes to work. Because a roadmap that doesn’t truly take talent into account will lead you nowhere. 

In the War for Talent—Talent Wins

It is possible to hire great talent, engage them, and keep them motivated and loyal to your organization. However, doing so requires a shift in the way that we think about work.

We have a historic opportunity to re-create our life in many ways. If companies and individuals start challenging the status quo and are bold enough to experiment with new ways of working, then a deep and fulfilling transformation will unfold.

The first step for any company hoping to recruit and retain top talent is to acknowledge that the talent has already won. The business environment has become competitive enough that people with valuable skill sets can find the arrangement that best suits their lifestyle. 

Forward-thinking executives will have plans in place to win the war for talent. Those plans will include changing their mindset around people and culture and implementing modern tactics such as the 4-day work week and hybrid working structures.

Companies who are willing to be flexible in terms of roles and hiring models will have a better chance of obtaining the best talent—and their organizations will profit immensely because of it. 

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