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Training, Development & Retention

Reversing the talent deficit (part 4 of 4)

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If the rolling talent deficit series has struck a chord with you, and you’ve started measuring and looking at the effects of the deficit, then you’re probably ready to take action.

As you think about how to tackle the problem, my first bit of advice is to understand all the factors that got us to this point. There are many issues to consider, from the Great Recession and multiple generations in the workforce, to the rise of social media and employee engagement.


Any one of these could have more or less impact for your company or industry, but all of them should be considered. What we’re learning the hard way is that one approach or the same approach we’ve used in the past will likely not work anymore.

While it might seem like a daunting task, there are some immediate areas to consider as you start to work toward reducing your talent deficit:

  • Skills inventory and assessment. Few companies really understand the skills they need beyond their current job openings. Most companies could benefit immediately from understanding the skills they have now and their relationship to their company’s ability to keep their products and services moving. Once this has been accomplished, add to this list an assessment of how your strategic plans will be affected by your ability to find and keep these types of skills. What skills will you need to grow? Where are the most likely areas for growth or need for services? How will you meet these needs?
  • Sourcing strategies. Take a look at your current sourcing strategies and their effectiveness. Consider whether you need to expand your strategies or consolidate your efforts. Probably the most useful thing to do in this area right now is to look for flexible strategies, like contingent workers or recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), to help stem the tide and buy you some time to rework your recruiting infrastructure. It’s also a good time to think about consolidating your efforts into a managed services or RPO program, even if it’s only for specific areas, businesses, or locations.
  • Employee engagement. This is really two elements in one. There is the obvious need to engage employees as part of retention efforts. However, employee engagement can also be an important part of sourcing. First, engagement needs to start early in the sourcing and on-boarding processes. Candidates should have a good experience in the recruiting cycle, and on-boarding should be an efficient, positive experience. Second, happy, engaged employees and high performers will attract other good workers and high performers (and tell them about your company through social media networks). Remember, this also extends to those working on temporary assignments and those sourced or recruited by outsourcing partners.
  • Employment brand. Your company’s employment brand is a critical component in your sourcing and recruiting efforts. The rise of social media means that your employees are networked with other employees, potential employees and other information streams. This means that your culture and environment are probably no secret and can either help or hurt you when it comes to acquiring new talent. It also means that other companies are listening to your high performers and trying to understand what’s important to them. So should you. In addition, similar to employee engagement, the multiple generations in the workforce have different considerations when choosing a company to work for, and your employment brand is an important part of that decision.

The talent deficit took a long time to get rolling, and it will take some time for most companies to reverse it. As noted above, it also needs to be attacked on many fronts, so there’s no magic bullet or easy solution. What matters most is that companies start to take action now to start to reverse this deficit and build flexible, efficient talent acquisition strategies.



Matt Rivera has more than 20 years of experience in the staffing and workforce management industry. He has worked in virtually every aspect of the contingent labor process, from recruiting to sales, and most recently, in corporate marketing for Yoh. As director of customer solutions for Yoh, Matt helps develop innovative workforce solutions to help clients achieve maximum return and efficiencies from their use of flexible labor. Matt holds a degree in Journalism/Public Relations, and lives in the Pennsylvania suburbs with his wife and two children.ࠒead More of Matt's comments at .


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Growth in women's share of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations declined to 27% in 2011from a high of 34% in 1990. While women make up nearly half of the workforce, they were 26% of the STEM workforce in 2011.

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