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What CEOs Need to Know About Finding and Keeping Top Talent

If your company’s failure to attract and retain top talent is keeping you up at night, you’re not alone: This is a leading concern among corporate CEOs, presidents and chairs.

Of the top 10 operational excellence strategies cited by CEOs in the annual CEO Challenge 2016 survey by the Conference Board, 5 pertain to human capital. With this in mind, here are 10 strategies for CEOs to implement to increase the odds of finding and keeping the cream of the employee crop.

1. Harness analytics. Gather data about the performance, promotions, skillsets and personality traits of your existing top staff, suggested John Henry, a global client lead at Deloitte LLP, in a Deloitte-sponsored Wall Street Journal supplement. Then parse external data on potential candidates from social networks and career pages to understand their interests, skills, experiences, personalities and endorsements. Finally, deploy predictive modeling and advanced algorithms on both data sets to identify candidates that correlate with your organization’s attributes for high-performers.

“An organization’s recruiting process gives candidates a glimpse of the company’s culture and day-to-day operations, and a bureaucratic hiring process is likely to repel leading candidates.”

2. Ban bureaucratic hiring practices. Companies with onerous, protracted hiring processes that involve multiple tests, assessments and interviews risk losing the battle for talent—so eliminate as many of these elements as possible when assessing prospective employees. “An organization’s recruiting process gives candidates a glimpse of the company’s culture and day-to-day operations, and a bureaucratic hiring process is likely to repel leading candidates,” Henry said.

3. Immediately extend an offer to the right candidate, even if the pool of prospects who’ve already been interviewed is still small. Talented people won’t wait around long, and other companies in your market are looking for them, too, according to Inc.

4. Consider corporate culture. Talent-wise, some people are “shooting stars” companies would be lucky to hire, Business Insider reported. However, capitalizing on this talent will be impossible if the candidate, by virtue of traits, experiences and opinions, is a poor cultural fit for your organization. So look at your company’s own culture and compare that with what you see in the candidate. “By understanding your culture and interviewing and choosing the right hires in the first place, you’re getting a leg up on setting up a relationship that can last,” according to the publication.

5. Prioritize passion for projects. Many companies neglect to make mandatory conversations about whether employees are enjoying their current projects, or would rather apply their talents to “something new that they’re really interested in” and would “help” the organization, according to Forbes. Skipping this step means “saying adios to some of your best people,” because “top talent isn’t driven by power and money; but rather, the opportunity to be part of something…for which they are really passionate,” the magazine said.

6. Ignite the passion and the use of talent even more by giving employees the chance to deliver on what they’ve promised. Top talents “hate to be jerked around,” Forbes warned.

7. Balance freedom with accountability. While top talents don’t like being given the runaround, they do demand accountability from others and aren’t upset by being held accountable for their projects. They appreciate insights, observations and suggestions, providing they aren’t being preached to.

8. Actively discuss career development. Most employers never engage even their top talent about where they want to go in their careers—and that’s a mistake. If your best people know there is a path for them at your company going forward, they will stick around, according to, a human resources blog.

9. Surround top talent with other top talent. Keeping “dead wood” on the payroll because finding a replacement for them would be difficult or it’s the wrong time to terminate them sends top talent out the door faster than ever. To retain your best people, ensure that they are surrounded by other “great people,” Forbes advised.

10. Find the culprit. If top talents are leaving your company in droves, investigate whether a manager or managers may be to blame. Eighty percent of employee turnover results from the environment created by managers, rather than from the company at large, Steve Miranda, executive director, human capital development and executive education programs at Cornell University’s ILR School in Ithaca, N.Y. told Require that managers work collaboratively and positively with their employees to reduce turnover, Miranda advised.

With the cost of hiring and training employees continuing to increase and competition for “rock star” performers becoming more fierce, companies must make concerted efforts to identify top talent and keep them in the fold. The best practices above are a step in the right direction.


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