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Memo to HR: All the good people are gone

I recently overheard two ladies in the elevator talking about the state of their workplace. The quote that stayed with me as I exited the elevator was, “Yeah, all the good people are gone now.” Immediately I thought not about retention and people leaving – but about recruiting.

Why recruiting? Because today companies need to think about how to create a wider door coming into their organization than going out. Notice that the elevator lady said all the people are “gone” now. She wasn’t talking about all the great new people that are coming in, only those that are gone.

Here’s why: In the years since the Great Recession, there has been a steady stream of high performers (and even some not-so-high performers) leaving organizations as companies look for experienced people. Unfortunately, for many of the unemployed, companies overlook those not currently working (read more about why that’s not ideal here), for those who are currently employed. Why? Because it’s less risky and many thought they could get a good deal on a good hire.

But this change hasn’t caught up to many HR and recruiting departments. In fact, at the same time this has been happening, recruiting and HR staffs have been cut. So it got harder to recruit, but HR has fewer resources than ever.

Fast forward to today. This is why Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) and contingent labor are on the increase. HR has little choice but to get help in some way.

So as you are fighting for your HR budget or working on recruiting strategies, here are a few things to consider:

  • If you haven’t tied your recruiting efforts to your engagement and retention efforts, you are missing something. You have to keep more good people coming in because the fact is, good people will still be leaving for the foreseeable future and there’s little you can do about it.
  • If you haven’t looked at your hiring efforts, projected hiring and related it to the types of hiring you need to do (i.e., exempt vs. non-exempt, degreed vs. non-degreed), then you may not really have a handle on the recruiting resources you need.
  • If you are not thinking about creating a proactive pipeline of candidates, you likely won’t have the hires you need. “Good” people are generally not searching for your jobs and couldn’t care less if you have an opening for them. They want to get to know you first, know your company and make a move that makes sense to them.
  • These things are particularly relevant in the highly skilled and/or technology areas where demand is high. These types of hires are highly mobile, networked and understand their value.

Think about it as you look at your recruiting strategies. If the elevator lady is right, it’s already too late. And even if she’s wrong, it will be soon.


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