Hiring In & For the Future: The Keys to Talent Acquisition are Engagement and Retention
In an HCI webinar earlier this year, Talent Analytics: Turning Reference Checking into a Strategic Asset, Ryan Cook, Global VP of Talent Acquisition for CH2M was one of three hiring leaders who shared insights, challenges, and high priority initiatives. Discussion focused not only on specific ways technology is enhancing the hiring process, but also on the strategic focus that is defining the talent-driven future of their organizations.
Hiring & Retaining for the Long Term
One challenge each organization is facing comes down to simple math: if you are losing nearly as many employees as you are bringing in each year, it’s not a very sustainable model and can be expensive. For Ryan Cook, Global VP of Talent Acquisition for CH2M one of his initiatives this year is a focus on an internal recruiting process… “to make it as easy to find jobs inside the company as it is outside.” Being sure to leverage internal talent and place them in the group where they will be most successful – both in terms of making the individual happy and the business impact achieved - can have a huge impact on the net new hires required each year. Cook places a high priority on retaining top talent by connecting them with opportunities inside CH2M.
Another trend that is increasingly important to acquisition and retention of great talent is purpose-driven companies and recruitment. Cook points out, “I’m seeing a surge in how organizations identify who they are as an organization and what attributes they have that are authentic and immutable and how those organizations leverage the attributes to attract and retain talent.” Helping candidates connect their own purpose with that of a company can make an impact on engagement and retention. “I’m seeing much more focus on ‘how do I feel like I matter as an employee and how am I contributing to something bigger than just collecting a paycheck’… I think with Millennials specifically, it’s no longer OK to just have a job, they want it to have meaning.”
Cook advances the importance of knowing your people to really excel in talent management. “That seems to be changing the conversation a little bit,” he says, referring to a shift in talent acquisition focus from just bringing people in the door. For several years, talent acquisition leaders have discussed how the role of talent acquisition has been expanding into talent acquisition, plus engagement, plus retention and now it’s starting to happen.
Optimizing The Candidate Experience
A candidate’s experience moving through the hiring process will impact their relationship with the company. This is true for both internal and external candidates, and immediate and longer term opportunities.
By using the online reference checking software, SkillSurvey’s Pre-Hire 360®, CH2M is able to significantly decrease the time-to-fill – often by as much as a couple weeks. That makes the candidate process more streamlined, plus the detailed feedback gained from references drives more focused interviews and a more tailored onboarding and training program. Knowing more about candidates up front allows smarter decisions and a better experience for both sides. Cook has seen that the likelihood of voluntary termination drops significantly for candidates who have been hired using the online reference check process.
Cook sees too how important it is to build bridges. Just because one opportunity might not work out with a candidate or employee, the relationship does not have to end. Cook’s perspective is that if a company is providing a great experience from the first conversation, they will leave the door open so that people will want to apply again in the future.
Finding Passive Candidates can be Key in a Competitive Talent Market
At CH2M, Cook is faced with an industry where there is a shortage of qualified candidates (the annual ManPower skills shortage survey has shown Engineers to be the second most difficult to find for the past three years in a row). Tapping into a candidates’ references as passive candidates can be a huge benefit, as the references are typically already in the right field and right types of roles. CH2M invites all those completing a SkillSurvey reference survey to join the CH2M talent network. That network is then nurtured by the Candidate Development Team and its CRM.
Explaining the benefits of this to CH2M, Cook says, “If you look at Corporate Executive Board statistics it shows that 9% of passive candidates are higher performing on the job they take and 25% more likely to stay… 25% more likely to stay is really important for us. If we can get 9% higher performing up front, that’s really important. Couple on top of that the ability to find quality hires up front with SkillSurvey, we’re doing everything we can to get people active and productive as quickly as possible but also trying to find those people who are going to stay with our organization long term.”