December 7, 2022
With the Great Resignation on one hand and a looming recession on the other, change appears to be the only constant. Every day, it seems there are new tactics and strategies to stay competitive in a fast-changing world—and many companies are struggling to keep up.
But talent-centric organizations don’t have to frantically change gears every time the job market does, argues Carol Schultz, a talent equity and leadership advisory expert and author of Powered By People. Talent-centric organizations, or TCOs, have a very simple and unwavering focus: the people that power the business.
“A talent-centric organization puts great employee experiences front and center, weaving employee needs into the very fabric of the company,” says Schultz. “Its executive team is fully aligned regarding the organization’s vision, business strategy and all communication—and it builds a talent strategy to support these needs.”
In strong contrast to toxic work environments that people are fleeing in droves, TCOs have redefined success in terms of employee satisfaction, not merely stakeholder returns and monetary profit.
“TCOs focus on hiring and retaining employees who are not only right for the positions they’re hired for but also right for the company,” says Schultz. What follows are three compelling reasons why talent-centered organizations will win the future.
1.) Happier people = higher returns
From the outside, a TCO’s heavy emphasis on empowering and supporting its workforce might seem—well—fairly expensive to sustain long term. But there’s a resulting return on investment that is, in Schultz’s word, “huge.” She cites research by IBM that found TCOs generate 32% more revenue than traditional organizations over a five-year period.
Of course, not being talent-centered is costly, too. “If you’re not a TCO, you end up like a meat grinder, watching employees churn in and out,” says Schultz. “Replacing workers is expensive, and growth is difficult when you’re always tracking backward to fill the same positions.”
Schultz points out that TCOs, being more agile, can bring products to market twice as fast. “This is a big deal for startups because a delay in getting to market means burning through funding and leaving profit and opportunity on the table.”
2.) What Great Resignation?
Companies that weathered the Great Resignation best are those that already had a strong culture of valuing employees. And it all starts with the organization’s approach to hiring.
“TCOs attract and retain top talent by being clear with prospective candidates on who and what the company represents, what the company is doing well, what its challenges are and how leaders are working to resolve issues,” stresses Schultz. “They ask candidates what they want and need in an organization to keep them there for X number of years.”
Usually, a robust learning and development experience is at the top of candidates’ wish lists—giving TCOs a strong advantage. “By their very nature, TCOs are deeply committed to employee training and development. They ask both employees and prospective employees what they need,” says Schultz.
“Of course, not every employee wants to move up or be a manager, but most employees welcome training and coaching to develop their skills.” According to Schultz, TCOs don’t just address this annually, but quarterly (at least).
What if an employee wants to move up internally but lacks the skills to do so? In a TCO, this employee will be provided with the training and coaching to get them to that level. Then, says Schultz, if the employee turns out not to be a long-term fit, TCOs will be straightforward about it and help the employee exit the company. “Transparency is what’s important here.”
That transparency extends to what Schultz calls “a culture of feedback” where anyone—at any level—can speak with a subordinate, peer or manager without worrying about being fired or facing negative repercussions. “This culture starts with the CEO and is filtered down to the executive team and below,” she says.
3.) Like traditional hiring, but better
Hiring is another area where TCOs stand out from their peers in two clear-cut ways: who leads the hiring and how they craft job descriptions.
“Roughly 98% of HR leaders and employees have zero experience in recruiting, and the other 2% have little recruiting experience and certainly not enough to have mastered ‘the art of the search,’” says Schultz. “Yet, we put HR in charge of recruiters and recruiting the best talent? Why?”
Instead, Schultz argues, hiring should be led by the chief talent officer. This person should report directly to the CEO, whose job it is to ensure the company’s success.
Schultz also takes a dim view of traditional job descriptions which are, in her opinion, filled with fluff, extraneous bullet points and sometimes unreasonable demands. “Most job descriptions read like they’ve been written by someone who just threw them together on the spot—which is typically the case,” she says.
So what should companies put out there instead? Position descriptions that approach job roles in a holistic way. “A position description informs a candidate about who and what a company is,” explains Schultz. “It’s a sales pitch for your company—an opportunity to explain why someone would want to come and work for you.”
Further, a comprehensive position description proactively answers the questions candidates will inevitably have about the group or team they’ll be working with, the expectations and requirements of the position, the company’s culture and track record, career and growth opportunities and the next steps.
“Great position descriptions help build TCOs because they clear out the ambiguity that leads to bad hires and high turnover,” asserts Schultz. “They allow the company, recruiter and candidate to all start on the same footing.”
Becoming centered on talent
If you’re already a TCO, how do you stay that way? “Like any relationship, maintaining talent-centricity requires continual work,” says Schultz. Quarterly or semiannual check-ins between leaders and employees can help keep the organization on its toes.
It’s also essential to nip any issues in the bud. “If leaders see people in the organization avoiding issues or passing the buck, it’s imperative to revisit what’s happening and get coaching to address it,” Schultz advises.
If you can’t honestly claim to be a TCO yet, how can you begin the process of transformation from the inside out? Schultz encourages all founders and CEOs to set up an all-hands-on-deck discovery conversation to ask the following questions:
- How does our leadership team describe the company’s vision and goals?
- Is everyone on the same page?
- What do team members feel should be done differently?
- What does employee turnover look like in the company and each department?
- What’s causing employees to leave?
- Why do our people think the company isn’t achieving its goals?
Through this conversation, any gaps in alignment can be shared in an objective and nonjudgmental way. And then, of course, you have to act on the insights gained. “Be open to the possibility of doing things in a different way than you’ve considered in the past. You’ll find this process to be authentic, eye-opening and valuable,” says Schultz.
Finally, don’t lose sight of the reason you want to become a TCO: it’s the people. As Schultz says, valuing the human experience is what a TCO is all about.