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7 Steps to Successful Talent Planning

A talent planning strategy is important to ensure that, at all times, you have the right people in the right roles to meet the needs of your organisation.

As the needs of a business are constantly evolving, so becomes the need to keep your talent planning strategy closely aligned to your business objectives at any given time.

By formalising the way in which you approach talent planning – whether this preserving and utilising your workforce cost-effectively during times of economic difficulty, or expanding and developing your workforce in times of economic prosperity – focus can be retained on what your business truly needs, both now and in the future.

It is often through a careful analysis of how you can make your people work best for your business, that you will begin to identify how best your business can work and what changes can be made to make your business a success.

Below we examine what talent planning can mean for employers, including some of the challenges that employers are facing in a post-pandemic environment. We also provide some practical HR advice on developing and implementing an effective talent planning strategy for your business during these difficult times.

 

The role of talent planning within the organisation

The talent that you recruit and retain within your company or organisation will often represent one of your most valuable business assets. These are the people who will not only ensure the successful running of your day-to-day operations, but will also be responsible for the growth and future success of your business.

In broad terms, talent planning refers to a combination of people management processes that employers use to recruit and retain top talent. These processes are aimed at creating and maintaining a high-performing workforce, and are typically tailored to the needs and overall objectives of the business in question.

 

What are the different talent planning processes?

The different processes can be broken down into the following seven key stages:

Talent planning stage Detail
Attracting talent Recruiting new people, where needed, to fill key operational roles to meet both short and long-term business needs.
Identifying talent Identifying people within your existing workforce with the potential to fill any skills gaps.
Developing talent Improving the skills and abilities of both new recruits and existing employees for the benefit of your business, as well as for the personal and professional development of key individuals.
Engaging talent Nurturing your people to ensure that they are fully aligned to your overall business objectives.
Motivating talent Finding ways to drive performance and maximise the potential of your people.
Retaining talent Providing sufficient incentives to ensure that your talent remains loyal and committed to your business.
Deploying talent Identifying where there are needs in your business, and placing the right individuals in roles to meet those needs.

 

What are the talent planning challenges currently facing employers?

Talent planning can be complex at the best of times, where employers are dealing with a variable set of integrated processes that can be affected by all sorts of factors, including the prevailing economic climate.

In a post-pandemic environment, there are various additional considerations, from trying to keep a business financially afloat to the need to accommodate flexible working arrangements to allay employee concerns about COVID-19.

However, it is important, despite the economic and practical challenges that many employers are continuing to face, to not allow talent planning to fall to the bottom of their list of priorities. It is your people that are likely to get you through these difficult times, both in the immediate and long-term.

This means that you must ensure that you are using your human capital effectively, keeping your talent planning strategies aligned to your business needs, both now and moving forward. By prioritising talent planning, this will not only help you to preserve your business, but look ahead to a brighter future.

 

What does an effective talent planning strategy look like?

There is no set formula for an effective talent planning strategy although, to work well, any strategy must remain constantly aligned to the needs of your business at all times. Being flexible and creative in your approach to talent planning can be key to a successful outcome here.

Below we look at the seven different people management processes, from recruitment through to deployment, and how each of these processes can be used to put in place talent planning initiatives that meet your business needs.

 

Attracting talent

In many cases, businesses have been forced to downsize to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, although you may now be looking to fill any skills gaps to help you move forward. You may also be looking to recruit new talent to retain an essential competitive edge during these difficult post-pandemic times.

To attract the best and brightest talent to your company or organisation, your employer brand may significantly impact your ability to recruit the right candidate(s). This may need some attention, especially if you have recently been forced to make compulsory redundancies, or otherwise made difficult economic decisions that may not necessarily positively impact your employer reputation.

Some time and effort may need to be invested in your overall image. This could be achieved by identifying unique benefits and perks that may persuade people to want to work for your business, rather than for anyone else. You can also enhance your reputation as a socially responsible employer, and widen the pool of potential talent that you attract, by incorporating carefully considered and well-communicated policies on diversity and inclusion.

By using your social media and web presence, or any promotional or advertising campaigns, to reflect these types of recruitment initiatives, this will help you to rebuild a positive employer image and put you ahead of your competitors when it comes to attracting the best and most talented recruits.

 

Identifying talent

In many cases, you may not be ready or financially able to recruit new talent to your company or organisation. However, you may already have under-utilised talent within your existing workforce with the potential to fill any skills gaps and business-critical roles, in this way lessening the burden and cost of recruitment.

The process of identifying existing talent within a business is often referred to as resourcing. This is essentially where you analyse your current workforce and its capability, making predictions for skill shortages to determine immediate and future needs, and finding ways to maximise your people resources.

There are various ways in which to identify potential talent and manage your people, from mentor programmes to robust performance management reviews. Through effective resourcing, you may be able to find talented individuals who are already culturally integrated and aligned with your business objectives, and who are willing and able to move sideways into different roles, or to move upwards into more senior roles, as and when these positions arise.

 

Developing talent

Succession planning, alongside resourcing, also plays a significant factor in the talent planning process. This is about developing the talent that you have recruited or identified within your company or organisation, and ensuring that your people go on to develop the necessary skills and experience to realise their full potential whilst working for you.

By offering training and development to key individuals, this will help to ensure that those who are looking to move into more senior roles at some point in their careers are ready for promotion when the time arises. This could be achieved through initiatives such as specific skills programmes, professional networking or even secondment within or outside your business.

Subject to having the necessary resources, you may also want to encourage a climate of continuous learning and development for everyone employed by you. By investing in skills training for all your staff, you will be able to develop the strengths of your entire workforce, creating meaningful career opportunities based on the personal and professional expectations of each individual.

 

Engaging talent

Providing career support for your staff, and supporting their professional development, is just one of the ways in which you can help to engage your employees, where the possibility of career progression can be an attractive way of incentivising your people to work hard.

However, you may need to identify other ways in which you can bring out the best in your workforce, where even highly driven individuals may sometimes need support and encouragement to perform well.

You may find that by giving your staff a dedicated channel to put forward their ideas to help your business progress, or to express their worries or concerns, this will help them to feel more engaged and valued. The most engaged employees are the ones that want to actively contribute to the success of the business and feel confident that their voices will be heard.

The provision of wellbeing programmes, especially during such stressful times where concerns about health and safety have been heightened, may also help your staff to feel nurtured. By providing the right support, and a healthy work-life balance, your employees will feel valued and better able to perform well for you, even during these challenging times.

 

Motivating talent

Closely linked to employee engagement, you also need to identify ways to drive performance and productivity. Succession planning can again be crucial to facilitate this important part of the people management process.

At a senior level, it is not only essential for you to know who your high value or high potential employees are, but to make sure they know this themselves and what you are doing to help develop them further for their continued progression.

At a more junior level, all employees must be made aware that there are opportunities for them to develop and grow. It is important to ensure that the full potential of all employees is realised, not just key individuals who are considered valuable to your business, and that your workforce knows this.

 

Retaining talent

Retaining top talent can be key to the success of your business. A good talent planning strategy will look to what incentives can be offered, not only to recruit your talent in the first place, but also to retain them.

You need to look at creative ways to incentivise the commitment and loyalty of your staff, in this way alleviating the risk of losing your top talent to one of your competitors. There are various retention tools that can be utilised as a means of reducing employee turnover, from competitive benefits to creating a positive working environment in which the wellbeing of your workforce is highly valued.

 

Deploying talent

Having invested in recruiting and retaining talent within your company or organisation, you will need to consider how and where best to utilise the skills of key employees within different areas of your business.

You will need to identify where any skills gaps lie and what skills you have on board. In this way, you can deploy the right people with the right skills to fill key roles to further the progression and growth of your business.

The mobility policies you have in place should provide the flexibility for talent to move freely about, either sideways into similar roles or upwards into more senior roles. In this way, any deployment opportunities will not be missed by unnecessarily restrictive or complicated procedures.

Need assistance?

DavidsonMorris’ HR specialists are experienced in all aspects of talent planning and strategy. For help optimising your organisation’s approach to talent development, contact us.

 

Talent planning FAQs

What is talent planning process?

The talent planning process typically refers to a combination of people management processes that employers use to recruit and retain top talent. These processes are aimed at creating and maintaining a high-performing workforce, and include how to attract, identify, develop, engage, motivate, retain and deploy talent within a company or organisation.

What is resourcing and talent planning?

Resourcing within the talent planning process refers to managing the resources that you have as an employer to meet the needs of your business, including the people that work for you. Typically, this starts with workforce planning, ie; a process of analysing your current workforce and its’ capability to determine the needs of your business and where any skills gaps lie.

What factors affect talent planning?

Various factors affect talent planning, including the prevailing economic climate and the state of the labour market at any given time, as well as the existing needs and resources of the business in question.

What is the purpose of talent management?

Talent management comprises a combination of people management processes, from recruitment to deployment, and can be used to predict skills shortages and ensure that you have the right people in the right jobs at the right time.

Last updated: 8 September 2020

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