Is the phrase that was catapulted into our Talent Acquisition consciousness’s back in 1997 headed for a big comeback 20 years later? 

Millennials may not be familiar with the phrase, “The War for Talent”, but us gen X’rs and baby boomers can easily recall it. The War for Talent is a term coined by Steven Hankin of McKinsey & Company in 1997, and in a book by Ed Michaels. In the years leading up to 2000, recruiting and retaining talent was a nightmare for all organizations and compensation compression issues were off the charts. The War for Talent referred to an increasingly competitive landscape for recruiting and retaining talented employees. In his book, Michaels describes not a set of superior Human Resources processes, but a mindset that emphasizes the importance of talent to the success of organizations.

Snap to 2017 and we are beginning to see a similar set of circumstances that we did pre- Y2K with the Dow Jones now growing (& the Nasdaq fast approaching 6000) coupled with a new President touting the ideal of putting Americans back to work again and producing goods made in America. Plus, right or wrong, there is pressure to significantly reduce H1B employees. All indicators are that the talent acquisition arena will potentially heat up to those pre-Y2K years.

HR leaders and their TA teams will be searching for various modes to secure talent and more importantly, retain key talent. Arbitrarily increasing various forms of compensation or other non-compensatory benefits adding to the indirect employee costs will haunt an organization by dragging down operating earnings.

In retaining and recruiting best in class talent, a few simple axioms could apply:

  • Create a culture to challenge employees
    • Leaders should manage with integrity, and apolitically
  • Create a cohesive, empowered team environment
    • Never accept subversive team members.
  • Hard working employees make mistakes
    • Accept and utilize these mistakes as mentoring, supportive moments.
  • Executive leaders share key information
    • 98% can be shared, 2% is proprietary.
  • A leader is where the buck stops
    • Kudos flow down, not up.
  • Promptly reinforce and reward superior performance
    • Remember, a reward can be as quick and easy as simply stating ‘Great work’ to a person or a team.
    • Poor performance should be corrected immediately and a performance action plan may be required.

Currently leading the charge by assisting TA teams in their individual War for Talents are these four companies, listed in their areas of expertise.

ü  Customized Project Recruiting – Tri-Search

ü  Contingent Search – Techcruit

ü  RPO – PeopleScout

ü  Executive Search – Morgan Samuels

We have yet to see if 2017 will play out as the new Y2K, but the War for Talent will heat up nonetheless. Click on any of the four companies listed above to join the battle.