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Talent Selection and Retention Seminar - 8 Key Outcomes

See the standout themes from our Talent Selection and Retention Best Practices seminar for SMEs. Speakers Cindy Norcott and Benjamin Buckingham discussed their perspectives on topics such as the new recruitment landscape, quiet quitting, employee value proposition, competency-based interviewing and more.

Key Outcomes from the Talent Selection and Retention Seminar

In a Global Skills Shortage - Power has Shifted to Candidates

Cindy Norcott has been running her recruitment agency for the past 28 years. She noted that after the pandemic, there has been a boom in hiring, coupled with a shortage of critical skills. This has resulted in a significant power shift, away from employers and towards job applicants. According to Cindy, "in the past, the employer had all the power and applicants would sit on the other side of the desk, begging for an opportunity to work at the company.

Now it’s very different. Candidates are googling your company and asking their friends about your business. They are very intentional about the brands they want to work for and what they want out of a job. Now, talented candidates are interviewing you too."

Click here to download the talent selection and retention seminar slides.

In this context, competing for talent means using your recruitment process and interviews as a way to "sell" your brand, values and opportunities to candidates. Benjamin Buckingham highlighted that it's critical to shift our mindsets away from traditional thinking by consciously putting people and respect at the heart of selection. "Candidates should receive the same respect that we give our clients. This can be demonstrated by having realistic time frames, respecting those time frames, getting back to candidates with feedback, setting clear expectations, not asking people to jump through hoops, and making sure that people’s needs are met over and above their need for money."

Benjamin Buckingham is the Managing Director of Lumenii"How we treat people in the recruitment phase, whether they are hired or not, really comes back to impact us so it’s very important to build that employee value proposition right from the start."

- Benjamin Buckingham

In a Small Business a Clear Employee Value Proposition is Essential to Attract and Retain Talent 

What differentiates talent selection and retention in small businesses, compared to their larger competitors? The need for talent and the need for people is the same. Yet, within the context of a smaller organisation, the impact of one person is much bigger. According to Benjamin, SMEs need to consider how they plan to compete for the same talent, but with fewer resources and often much smaller teams.

Click here to watch the recording of the talent selection and retention seminar.

One way to do this is to build a clear, unique employee value proposition (EVP). An EVP can be defined as a clear communication strategy that showcases the benefits of working at your organisation, including remuneration, culture, values, work environment and longer-term opportunities. Of course, it's not just talk, but also needs to be put into action, monitored over time and adapted in line with the changing needs of your business and its people.

As Cindy said, "If you have a limited budget or resources, you need consider what you can offer that isn't gimmicky but is something people would really value."

Author of the best-selling business book How to be Unstoppable"We need to look at whether we have actually done the work to promote ourselves and create a great employee experience. We always focus on customers but we need to focus on staff."

- Cindy Norcott

Flexibility is at the Top of Candidate Wish Lists

During the pandemic, most people worked from home and, possibly for the first time ever, consciously looked at their work/life balance. As a result, many candidates only want to pursue roles where they are offered flexibility, the opportunity to work from home, autonomy and where they are judged on the results of their work, rather than the inputs. As Cindy noted, "the first thing candidates ask, 90% of the time, is whether it's a remote or flexible role. If not, many of them immediately withdraw from the process." Employers need to consider how to handle these candidate needs and what flexibility they can offer.

According to Cindy, "if companies are wanting to hire scare skills and are stubbornly refusing to not have any elements of flexibility or autonomy, they are going to shoot themselves in the foot. Obviously certain roles are not flexible, sadly, but where there could be some flexibility, I would encourage employers to actually ask their staff, 'what does flexibility mean for you?'. As an example, in my company one person wanted to come into work 20 minutes later because of morning traffic.

Such a simple thing but it’s been a game changer. It's about meeting people half way. Work doesn’t have to be a destination or a place, work is something we deliver. We have to ask ourselves, are we glorifying presenteeism, rather than focusing on outputs and results?”

Hiring for Potential is one of the Antidotes to the Skills Shortage

SMEs need to consider the criteria they use to hire people, especially scarce skills. Companies often rely on CV-based metrics such as education level and years of experience. Yet these are some of the worst predictors of performance in the role. Research shows that the best predictors of work success are in fact measurements of potential, such as Learning Agility, cognitive ability (intelligence) and competencies. 

Benjamin reflected on this in the context of small businesses: "We are madly looking for people with experience and education when, at the end of the day, it’s not the best thing to consider when we're searching for successful employees. What we find is that we can measure potential, and select people who may have little to no experience, but who have these innate traits and they can very quickly become effective. This is one of the main antidotes to the skills shortage."

Benjamin Buckingham is the Managing Director of Lumenii"Skills can be quickly learnt by people with innate ability, whereas if we spend all our time and energy looking for existing skill, we might hire somebody who does not have that innate ability and is not going to grow in the organisation as we expect. The other advantage is that there is so much more capacity available in the market, and the costs of hiring people with less experience are much lower.

Small businesses can leverage off this advantage by using technology to measure objective potential right from the start of the selection process, which also massively cuts down on the time spent manually reviewing CVs and interviewing the wrong people."

- Benjamin Buckingham

Competencies and Competency-Based Interviews Help you make Better Selection Decisions 

If small businesses want to improve the quality of their recruitment decisions, a clear place to start is by implementing competencies and competency-based interviews into their process. This can be done iteratively and at no cost. A competency can be defined as a set of behaviours that are observable and measurable. But why do competencies make such a difference?

"It gives us a structured way of communicating across different processes about what’s important for a particular role", says Benjamin. "Competencies create a common language that help us focus on to those things that really matter for any given role. We can use this language for various parts of the recruitment process, for interviewing, for measurement, and then also in other parts of talent management such as development."

Once we know which competencies are essential for a role, we can bring these in to a structured interview. Research supports the predictive value of competency-based interviews over standard, unstructured interviews. 

As part of the seminar, we have made available our competency-based interview guide, as well as our online competency library and profiling app.

The Slower your Recruitment Process the More Talent You Will Miss Out On

"Time kills deals". These were the words of Cindy, who shared that a longer process means that organisations lose out on candidates. Her advice was to not respond reactively but rather proactively to roles with higher turnover. "My suggestion" and this is where most companies are going, is to create a talent pipeline. If you have a high turnover area, you know you always need people in that category.

You should constantly be proactively hiring, always having someone waiting in the wings for when that new opportunity presents itself, rather than having that knee-jerk reaction. They always say hire slowly, fire quickly but it’s counterintuitive because if you hire too slowly, you are going to miss out on great talent."

Benjamin echoed Cindy's sentiments, highlighting that "time is risk. There is an opportunity loss or opportunity cost of having an empty seat. There is a real risk of losing candidates to a competitor. What we do by stretching out our recruitment process is cause candidates to lose interest and erode our perceived brand in the market." His advice for SMEs was to use not to rush or make bad decisions, but to create a streamlined process that enables good decision-making as quickly as possible. 

Benjamin noted, "I’ll reiterate what Cindy was mentioning. The first step is to maintain a talent pipeline; where possible, continuously hire, continuously look for skill, continuously look for talent. The second step is to reduce as many manual steps as possible. Focus on what really counts and remove unnecessary points, don’t make the candidate wait through too many stages.

One of the main ways of doing this is to have clear criteria of what you are looking for in a particular role, and when you find someone that meets those expectations, hire them. Don’t wait till the end, don’t wait for the next three weeks to find that you are actually going to lose that person that’s got everything that you need in order to be effective at the role."

Retaining Talent means Better Performance, Business Stability, Lower Risk and Less Recruitment

In the past, the biggest business challenge was "how do we get more clients?". This has shifted to "how do we retain our talent?". As Cindy noted, "if we can stop people leaving out the back door, we don’t have to keep pulling people in the front door." While there is no silver bullet for talent retention, she shared several important questions to ask:

  • Are we paying fairly? 

  • Do we know what people want, and are we giving them benefits that they value? 

  • Are we treating people fairly and creating an environment of trust?

  • Can they see a future with our organisation? 

  • Do they have opportunities to learn and grow?

  • Are leadership approachable? 

  • Do we promote continuous feedback?

  • Is our culture welcoming and adaptable?

Author of the best-selling business book How to be Unstoppable"Some companies have this theory that, 'you fit in with us, this is our culture'. That isn’t really how culture works anymore. Culture needs to be malleable and permeable, where any new person coming in can have an impact on the culture. Otherwise, we will never have diversity in our businesses."

- Cindy Norcott

According to Benjamin, retention is a multi-faceted puzzle. Employers need to consider three things: whether employees get the role, whether they want the role, and whether they can do the role. "Do they really intrinsically get what it is they are doing, why and how it contributes overall to the organisation?

Do they want it? Are they motivated to do the role? Does it bring them energy? Can they do it? Do they have the time and the capacity, the resource and the ability to do what they need to do? These are the key elements of stickiness. If they can’t do their role effectively, that brings in disengagement."

Quiet Quitting could be a Symptom of Disengagement

It's only worth retaining talent if they contribute to the success of your business. "Quiet quitting" is a term that came up a lot in the webinar; it can be defined as an employee reducing the amount of effort they put into their work. However, it's important to differentiate between quiet quitting due to burnout vs quiet quitting due to disengagement. 

Cindy highlighted the impact of COVID on burnout: "For some people, they are doing their jobs and doing them well but then they are drawing a line outside of work hours. I think they are trying to create boundaries and reclaim their work life balance."

In other cases, quiet quitting may be a symptom of disengagement with the organisation and the role. This could be due to employees wanting to leave but not finding other opportunities, or a mismatch between their motivators and what the organisation/role offers. According to Benjamin, "one of the most important ways to deal with this is to create an environment for feedback.

To give feedback we need to listen first and then we also need to actively do something with that feedback. It’s a reciprocal loop of listening and action, by making sure that people’s needs are met in the role and they are comfortable doing what they do. As Cindy said, it could be doing something quite small that can make a big difference.”

Learn more about Lumenii's Fixed Cost Technology First Solutions for SMEs

The panel gave a lot of advice on how to improve talent selection and retention in small businesses. One way to achieve this is to leverage technology as much as possible, to fill the gap of budget, time and people. In the world of talent selection and assessments, technology has come a long way in assisting small businesses with all the steps in the process, at a lower cost and with better decision making. 

Lumenii offers a fixed-cost talent assessment solution that is specifically designed for the needs of small businesses. Download our product summary to learn more or book a no-strings-attached meeting with an HR expert.

About the Panel of Speakers

Cindy Norcott - Keynote speaker

Author of the best-selling business book How to be UnstoppableCindy is the author of the best-selling business book, “How to be Unstoppable”, motivational speaker, business coach and the CEO of the award winning recruitment agencies, Pro Appointments and Pro Talent. Cindy is also the founder and chairperson of the well-known charity, the Robin Hood Foundation.

Benjamin Buckingham - Speaker

Benjamin Buckingham is the Managing Director of LumeniiBenjamin Buckingham is the Managing Director of Lumenii. He is a life-long entrepreneur with experience in the online technology and talent management fields.

Jaintheran Naidoo - Facilitator

registered industrial and organisational psychologist Jaintheran Naidoo is Lumenii's Delivery Director. He is a registered industrial/organisational psychologist with over 20 years of experience in the IO space.



Lumenii Talent Partners

Lumenii's team of expert psychologists regularly collaborate to share their ideas and knowledge. The latest case studies, thought leadership, and research.


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