Millions of Baby Boomers will leave their jobs in the next 10 to 12 years. This exodus of talent will place extraordinary pressure on every U.S. organization’s talent recruitment and retention efforts. Consider these strategies to help your organization compete in an unprecedented people cycle:
Ensure your HR leadership is top notch and empowered. If your organization has more than 60 people, you should have a high-quality, full-time HR manager or director in place. If your business is smaller, ensure that a partner- or executive-level resource owns the HR function and is leveraging internal administration and external support to ensure the organization has competitive HR programs. Having a strategic resource devising differentiating strategies and solving cultural or other people issues is a must.
Rev up your recruiting engines now. If your organization de-emphasized on-campus and/or experienced-hire recruiting in recent years, reinvest in those areas—and quickly, even if you’re not actively hiring. Recruiting is a marketing function—with a different target audience—so ensure that you have a differentiated message, the right offering, and that you’re reaching the desired employee audience “where they live.” If you’re not using social media actively in recruiting, start now.
Be competitive and fair. Make sure you are paying your people at or above market rates. Treat existing team members fairly and raise their pay as market pressure increases salaries for new hires. Compare your organization’s benefits to those of competitors and make sure your insurance, paid-time-off, flexibility, and other programs are on par with those of other businesses in your field.
Re-recruit your top team members. Most HR studies indicate that it costs 1.5 to 2 times an employee’s salary to hire and train a replacement, and this doesn’t consider the damage to client goodwill that a disruption in engagement continuity can cause. Focus on retaining your best and brightest by engaging them in discussions of their wants and needs and working with them to map a path within the firm that will meet those needs and the needs of the firm, too. (See also “How Well Do You Know Your Future Partners?” CPA Insider, Feb. 4, 2013, for 12 questions to help guide your re-recruiting conversations.)
Assess and enhance your organization’s culture. How does it feel to work at your organization? Is it an engaging, fun, employee-centered culture? Your organization’s culture is a combination of factors including the mindset and behavior of your leaders; the formal and informal stories you tell; and your strategies, policies, processes, programs, and more. (To examine your firm across six cultural attributes, read “Is Your Firm Old School or Cool?” CPA Insider, Nov. 28, 2011.) Look for areas where you can make improvements and then develop strategies for change in 2013.
Let your people be your guide. Form an employee advisory board (EAB) that represents a mix of generations, cultures, levels, and disciplines. Ask EAB members to solicit feedback from your people and bring forward ideas for change. Be open to their input and implement their ideas wherever possible. Use the EAB as a sounding board for ideas about how to improve the firm. The EAB can help shape strategies and improve communications.
—By Jennifer Wilson (firstname.lastname@example.org), a partner and co-founder of ConvergenceCoaching LLC, a leadership and marketing consulting and coaching firm that helps leaders achieve success.