Prioritize Change Management — or Risk Losing Top Talent

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Increasingly, competitive business advantages come from anticipating change and applying effective change management to new programs. Nowhere is that more true than within HR, where early adopters of new policies and approaches — including compensation, benefits, performance, recruiting, diversity and inclusion and more — gain competitive benefits that can create durable advantages for their organizations. Even something as simple as enhanced employee onboarding can help productivity and catalyze higher engagement and retention — benefits that can persist for years and provide an exponential return on the initial investment.

According to the ADP Research Institute® (ADP RI) report, Midsized Businesses: Poised to Lose Balance in Time of Uncertainty, change — something that often evokes emotions of fear or struggle — is actually synonymous with opportunity and can become "a catalyst for advancement."

The Importance of Change Communication

Another study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and supported by the ADP Research Institute®, Strategic Drift: How HR Plans for Change, asks a pivotal question for HR leaders: "How can companies know in advance the skills and workers they will need, and how can they ensure that they will have the necessary people in place in time?"

As different employers define culture and engagement differently, your organization should deploy a range of effective change management solutions to create a stronger sense of community, purpose and trust within their organizations. This should be supplemented with smart benefits and compensation tailored to the ever-changing realities of industry, location and workforce demographics.

These considerations become particularly critical for midsized businesses (those with 50 to 999 employees), which play a key role in the economy. Of the 16.3 million net jobs added during the last seven years, midsized businesses created 7.1 million or 44% of those jobs, which is a 5.3% increase over the past 10 years, according to the report, Midsized Businesses: Poised to Lose Balance in Time of Uncertainty.

How to Attract New Talent

Competing for future talent starts with paying close attention to what your current employees are asking for, especially those with less than 3 to 5 years of tenure. Whether you characterize it as generational or not, new employees expect more freedom in their work and a faster, clearer path to professional development. They also crave a stronger personal connection between what type of work they do, the success of their organization and the benefit of their organization to the broader world. The study, Strategic Drift: How HR Plans for Change indicates the following as the top items employers are considering to evolve their ability to attract new talent:

  • Offering remote work and the ability to work from home
  • Increasing the use of social media for recruiting
  • Hiring more contingent employees including freelancers and contractors
  • Using software to better support strategic workforce management
  • Promoting more women and minorities
  • Partnering more closely with educational institutions to cultivate talent

Build Trust among Employees

Best practices in change communication can help introduce new policies and benefits to employees in ways that preserve trust and engagement. The ADP RI study Evolution of Work 2.0: The Me vs. We Mindset, reports that 56 percent of employees feel that there is "no such thing as job security today."

The consequences of not adapting to meet the needs and expectations of new talent can be dire. According to the study, Strategic Drift: How HR Plans for Change, "discovering and retaining high-potential employees will be the greatest problem faced by employers."

Alarmingly, midsized business owners say they are less concerned about employee engagement than before, according to the ADP RI report, Midsized Businesses: Poised to Lose Balance in Time of Uncertainty. In 2015, 41 percent of business owners were concerned about employee engagement, compared with 34 percent in 2016. Regardless of the reasons for this decline in concern, which could be due to a disconnect or an increased focus on compliance, an emphasis on employee engagement remains vital to retain trust. HR leaders should work to put a formal employee engagement plan in place.

Estimates on the cost of replacing an employee range broadly, but accounting for recruiting costs, time-to-productivity, training, lost productivity, lost engagement, errors and cultural impact are all major factors to consider. Remember, the cost of turnover can be higher for skilled positions where the competition for talent is most intense, so focusing your efforts on skilled talent management should continue to be a top priority.

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