The only thing harder than finding the right people is keeping the right people. However, employers can take matters into their own hands when it comes to cultivating talent. The study “Rotterdam, Home Port for Talent“ even emphasises the role commercial actors play in increasing talent availability in a region. But what does it mean to cultivate talent and how do you do it? By applying learnings from the ’employee lifecycle’, you can improve your employment practices to turn your organisation into a breeding ground for talent.
The employee lifecycle
The employee lifecycle describes the different phases a person goes through while working for an organisation. The employer-employee relationship is, in principle, a transactional one. An employee adds value to an organisation by performing tasks and receives a salary in return. By realising identification and engagement, this relationship becomes transformational. Transformational work means that not just the employer, but the employee experiences added value from their job as well. The result? Synergy. Good employment practices therefore focus on empowering someone throughout all of the stages of the employee lifecycle. What are these different stages and how do you use the employee lifecycle to your advantage?
Challenges in recruitment
The path of an employee within a company starts with attracting and recruiting them. Finding the right talent is a challenge that is felt across the board, but in the maritime and logistics industries especially. Despite offering international opportunities and exciting career prospects, the sector isn’t exactly considered ‘sexy’. The sector struggles with a conservative image, despite rapid technological and digital developments in the supply chain. Most people simply don’t realise the massive role these industries play in our daily lives. Initiatives like Rotterdam Maritime Capital try to improve this image by spreading awareness of the importance of maritime and logistics for the global economy.
Strong employer branding tactics give supply chain companies the ability to draw people to their industry. Instead of focusing on candidate requirements, organisations should think about their own proposition. Think beyond the traditional salary and benefits package. What kind of working environment do we offer? How do we contribute to the world? Why should someone choose to work with us, rather than with our competitor? Having a well-defined corporate identity is particularly important when recruiting professionals that are not bound to a single industry, such as data science specialists.
Orientation versus onboarding
When someone joins an organisation, they usually approach their new role with much excitement. This ‘honeymoon phase’ won’t last forever. Statistics show that up to one-third of new hires start looking for a new job within their first six months. A good recruitment process beforehand helps reign in turnover among new hires, but the steps you take after they have signed their contract matter just as much. How do you make sure your new employees keep their enthusiasm while growing their productivity? Don’t fall in the common pitfall of confusing onboarding with orientation. Onboarding is a process that spans over multiple months. It entails more than planning introduction meetings and sharing company manuals and procedures. Orientation is certainly important when new staff members join the company, but it is just one aspect of onboarding. Successful onboarding goes beyond helping someone acclimatise to their new environment. Ideally, you want new hires to truly identify with the strategic goals of the business and develop the competencies to actively contribute to these goals.
Empowering your workforce
Most companies these days agree that technological innovation is essential to stay in business for the long-term. At the same time, they hesitate to invest similar resources into ensuring their human capital is up-to-date. Personal and professional development of employees, sometimes called social innovation, is vital if businesses want to keep up with the rapidly changing supply chain landscape. When it comes to training and development, the focus is often on young and new recruits. But paying attention to employees that have been with you for longer is just as—if not more—important than the onboarding of new employees. A stagnant workforce is never going to lead to innovation from within. This doesn’t mean you should focus on constantly hiring new employees. Experienced staff members offer incredible potential for business improvements if they receive the proper training and guidance. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. Instead, stimulate people to work in new ways, learn new skills, and gain new knowledge. This creates a vehicle for change that pushes the entire organisation forward and ensures future success.
The battle doesn’t end after a successful hiring and onboarding. Organisations struggle to keep their talent as well. Good communication is essential to stay informed on employee (dis)satisfaction. The traditional formal evaluation only takes place a few times a year at most. Engaging in constant dialogue with employees is how you ensure that their concerns are heard in time. It’s an enormous waste when a good staff member leaves only to find out during the exit interview that their concerns could have easily been addressed. If only the company had been aware there were any frustrations at all, changes could have been made to stop the pressure from building.
Training and development opportunities play another key role in employee retention. On average, finding and training a suitable replacement for someone exiting the company costs 33% of the employee’s annual salary. Most companies would never think to spend this money proactively on training programmes. Why fix what isn’t broken (yet)? However, consider the fact that nearly one in four employees quit due to a lack of professional development opportunities in their current job. If an organisation is struggling with high turnover, they need to stop viewing talent development programmes as a luxury and recognise the vital importance of employee development as a strategic business tool. To keep your employees around for the long haul, ping pong tables and an impressive cafeteria won’t cut it. Employers must recognise in time when someone feels like their job is turning stale and offer sufficient development opportunities to bind employees for years to come.
The final mile
Most of the time, the added value for organisations is generated in the employee lifecycle stages we have just discussed. While it makes sense for companies to invest the most resources in good recruitment, onboarding, development, and retention practices, the exit stage of an employee shouldn’t be overlooked. An offboarding protocol should involve more than the practical matters, such as terminating accounts and turning in company property. A thorough exit interview when someone resigns voluntarily can prevent other employees from leaving for the same reasons. Similarly, if someone has found a new job, knowing what in particular attracted that employee to their new workplace can be a great source of inspiration. These practices also show the employee (and everyone staying behind) that their opinion is valued and that they can still make a positive impact on a company that they are leaving.
But what if someone didn’t choose to quit on their own accord? It’s still possible to maintain a positive relationship with someone who has been terminated or become redundant. An outplacement is a vital instrument in helping someone overcome the shock of losing their job and figure out the next step in their career. Paying close attention to someone’s needs right up until their last workday ensures that their work environment remains as healthy and positive as possible. In return, the organisation gains insight in the effectiveness of their employment practices and employer branding. This helps them perform even better in all other stages of the employee lifecycle.