Attracting, Assessing and Retaining top talent in a global crisis

By Sofia Hjort Lönegård

It has been estimated that over 70% of staff in most organisations have been furloughed through the recent COVID crisis and many more have lost their jobs globally. As an example, as of June 28, 2020, approximately 9.3 million jobs, from 1.1 million different employers were furloughed in the United Kingdom as part of the government's job retention scheme. With many other countries offering the same government back schemes, the estimated numbers of furloughed staff globally is extensive.

Change creates opportunity, and no opportunity more than a global crisis

With such change, it creates an influx of available candidates in most markets and a false sense of security for any organisation choosing to take opportunities by hiring new talent through the crisis. There is an assumption that the organisation has the direct applicants it needs to fulfil their talent attraction requirement.

Talent comes in many shapes and sizes and the term top talent is subjective. Therefore, can it be assumed that 70% of furloughed or unemployed candidates are not the top talent in the organisation? How can you be sure you are getting the very best talent from the market to generate the results you need?

Many organisations especially sales teams, retain their top performers in a crisis and monitor their bottom line by reducing headcount to ensure the long term survival of their company. Those 70% furloughed or now unemployed should not be considered any less valuable to an organisation than the remaining 40%, as their value to the organisation, again, is subjective. What is valuable to one organisation is not always beneficial to another and vice versa. Caution, however, should be considered when hiring the recently furloughed or redundant candidates into your teams to ensure you have maximised the opportunity presented to you from an employer perspective

It is easy to get excited by the prospect of a top performer from a competitor knocking on your door and overlook the necessary assessment tools and processes, but given the current employer-driven market, it would be detrimental not to implement a solid process to ensure you are really getting the top talent to produce results

First considerations need to be given to the overall outcome the organisation is looking to achieve from their new hire, then determining the essential skills required to achieve these. The current market is a good time for implementation of a skills analysis across the organisation to benchmark your definition of 'top talent' with corresponding development of assessment tools and process. Will the organisation have a 'new normal' after the crisis or will a new set of skills be required to aid in the recovery period that you need to prepare for. Do you really have the top talent in place to drive this recovery?

If the organisation does not have a robust assessment process for talent acquisition, now is the time to invest.

Attracting top talent

Top talent in most markets will likely be seeking stability in uncertain times and leaders need to be focussing on providing stable leadership with a clear and transparent strategy and roadmap to manage the business through these times. Any indication of a company not making it through the crisis, top candidates will immediately be looking for stable alternatives, despite any loyalty garnered over time. If a company waivers in their direction or cannot demonstrate a commitment to a strong future, their talent will be open for opportunity and ready to be poached.

It is recommended not to settle only for the available candidates on the market and rely on job advertisement responses, use the opportunity the market is providing currently to improve assessments and source candidates directly from competitors to compare against. It will be an employer-driven market for the foreseeable, and the opportunity is now to build your teams for the long term with the best the market can provide. When opportunity knocks, open the door and make use of the tools you have at your disposal to ensure a long and healthy future for your organisation and stakeholders