Winning the War for Talent?

by Mike O'Neill

If you’re losing employees that you want to keep, then you’re losing the War for Talent.

You don’t have to work in HR to notice the seismic shift taking place in today’s workforce. Baby Boomers are retiring at a record pace. Gen Xers continue to assume greater leadership roles vacated by the retiring Boomers. Millennials have become the largest segment of the U.S. workforce.

Research shows that today’s workforce wants:

  • Development opportunities by wearing many hats
  • To be evaluated on results & outcomes, not time-in-grade
  • Leadership opportunities sooner rather than later
  • Regular interaction with senior leaders & customers
  • The ability to manage life & work interchangeably

To improve employee retention and win the war for talent, human resource planning strategies need to be a priority.

Here are some practical suggestions to consider:

Tap into Baby Boomers before they retire. Pair older & younger employees in mentorships to capture and transition knowledge & experiences. Offer part-time work for retiring Boomers to develop and grow your talent.

Work with the Gen X leaders to shape your organization’s future. They will have a big influence on how successful Millennials will be in leading your company in the future.

Recognize that work confined to an office or building is a thing of the past. Create a work environment that allows for individuality, flexibility and an ability to commingle work & life demands.

Don’t limit Succession Plans to leadership roles, also include your most critical jobs. Know which jobs have the greatest impact on your mission or strategy. Have specific workforce plans to anticipate needs 3-5 years from now. Don’t leave it to chance. You want to have a targeted approach to recruitment & development of these talent pools.

Make sure that every leader understands and is accountable for being a Talent Manager. Leaders must be accessible, authentic and open to actively involve their employees in fulfilling the mission of the company.

HR should not do this alone, effective human resources planning should be everyone’s job.

The War for Talent is winnable. To win, organizations must have a new talent mindset, adopt new strategies and plan carefully.


Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it,

and wiser than the one that comes after it.

– George Orwell

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