Is Your Organization Prepared to Win the War for Talent?

By Chris Czarnik

The war for talent is real and undeniable. Are you willing and able to do what it takes to have all the talent your organization needs to help you thrive?

In the past five years, I have had the opportunity to tour the country, teaching hundreds of CEOs and companies how to better recruit, retain and develop the talented employees they need in the turmoil that is beginning to unfold in the labor markets. On April 22, 2024, I will be speaking in San Diego at the MHEDA Convention on the following topics:

1. Showing through math and demographics the labor and worker shortage that has been inevitable for the past 30 years.

2. Identifying the cost of not filling positions in your organization.

3. Recruiting better by building the personas of your ideal applicants.

4. Demonstrating the impact that a mentor program can have on your employee retention.

Understand the Demographic Shift

First, let’s talk about the demographic shift in the U.S. causing this labor shortage. The largest generation of workers (the baby boomers) is already over 80% out of the workforce and is retiring at a rate of some 12,500 per day. This enormous generation has provided virtually unlimited labor for the past 30 years. Simply, there were more available workers than there were open jobs in the country for the last 30-to-40 years, providing almost unlimited choices for companies looking to hire great talent. This is now no longer the case. With the baby boomers retiring and smaller generations replacing them, we will be somewhere between 6 and 8 million people short in the available workforce for at least the next 10 years. Do your own research, and you will find that there is no theory here, just math. For perhaps the first time in your business’s life, for your company to win, another organization must lose.

Calculate the Real Cost

Second, let’s make clear that there is a real cost to not taking action to win the war for talent. For most organizations, if it is not on the P&L statement, we don’t pay attention to an issue. So where would I currently see the cost (out of pocket or opportunity) of your company’s open positions? The answer is that it is likely not represented there. In many cases, the cost of an open position is 2-to-2.5 times the annual salary of that position. So, an open technician position paying $65,000 per year costs the organization between $130,000 to $160,000 per year. That’s a ballpark, of course, and I would encourage you to work with your accountant or CFO to determine the value of each open position in your company and then represent that total as a special denotation on your P&L statement. When you have a total, ask, “Are we working as hard to solve this talent issue as we would a quality or safety issue of the same magnitude?” Here’s another question: Are you working as hard to find your next employee as you are to find your next customer?

Change the Advertising

Third, how can you change your job advertising to stand out from other organizations trying to catch the attention of your ideal candidate? The answer is to create a persona of your ideal applicant. Can you describe the person that needs your job to make their life better? If not, how can you possibly write an ad to get them to notice you? You have the personas of your ideal customer, right? Build that same model of the person who would be a perfect fit for your job. Ask the last four people you hired what changed in their lives to make them start a job search that led them to you. Was it a bad boss? New baby? Wrong shift? Too much or too little overtime? Remember, nobody is on Indeed looking for a hobby. Everybody’s job search starts with being unhappy or disappointed in some way. Your newest hires can tell you what caught their attention about your ad and how to get more people like them.

Retain with Relationships

Lastly, let’s talk about retention. The only thing worse than an open position is having all your positions filled, only to have one or more of your great people leave the company unexpectedly – especially after they have just started. All the data indicates that over the past 18 years if we get an employee to the 91st day of employment, they are likely to stay for about 3.4 years. So how do we get new employees to their 91st day? The answer to provide them with a mentor to walk that path with them for those 91 days, whose main goal is to help them culturally adapt to the organization. Based on working with thousands of job seekers over the past 17 years as their career coach, this is a necessary part of integrating new employees into your company.

Learning the technical skills of the new job is the easy part. What is difficult is creating relationships with people they can count on to get them through the critical first three months. Remember, they just left behind all their friends and everything they know to come to work with a bunch of strangers. Who do I talk to if my paycheck is wrong or if I’m going to be late? If my spouse needs to get in touch with me in an emergency, who do they call? These questions have nothing to do with the technical aspects of their job, but how to assimilate into a new environment with new rules while surrounded by a bunch of complete strangers. Remember, it’s easy to leave a company, but it’s hard to leave people. This mentorship is about creating relationships throughout the organization, so they have someone they feel comfortable asking for guidance in this brand-new setting. People who feel connected to other people stay.

Chris Czarnik is an Award-Winning International Keynote Speaker and Author. He currently serves as the subject matter expert on recruiting and retaining talent for Vistage Worldwide, the world’s largest executive coaching and peer advisory organization bringing together leaders to learn and grow. He’s known across the globe as the creator of an innovative approach to job search known as “The Human Search Engine®” and for “Winning the War for Talent,” a transformative approach to hiring and team growth and development. He has spent 20 years figuring out why people leave certain jobs … and what makes them stay.