RTT – Talent & Skills Incubators

These are the thoughts and takeaways from the latest Resourcing Think Tank held on Thursday 25th February and hosted by BAE Systems, Applied Intelligence’s Adam Blacker (Global Head of Recruitment). This Think Tank sought to discuss approaches to the “Talent and Skills Incubators”.

The following summary has been prepared to reflect a segment of the discussion held amongst senior Talent Acquisition professionals from leading national and international businesses. Specific company details, experiences and examples have been omitted from this summary as all discussions are held under ‘Chatham House Rules’.

Nowadays, organisations across the globe are struggling with the issue of attracting talent and how to upskill that talent alongside maintaining engagement. Do enough companies think outside of the box and aspire to be industry innovators? At this Think Tank event we explored how to create a Talent Incubator and if it works. Below are the five main conversation points:

What is a Talent Incubator?

A Talent Incubator is a pool of candidates who have been assessed and verified as potential or current talent aligned with the needs of a business. Whilst in the incubator the talent is taken through training and upskilled to meet the requirements of the clients onsite and offsite, this is an excellent way to maintain engagement and create a career path that is tailor made for individuals at all levels.

Attracting Talent into the Incubator

Talent is hard to attract for any business! But for businesses who have further obstacles, such as security clearance and restrictions on what can be discussed, this can add to the already difficult job of competing against global organisations with 24/7 communication tools.

When going to market to attract potential talent, the brand, message and communication needs to be clear and consistent – when attracting the up and coming talent of today the two main considerations are culture and career path.

The best way employers can make contact and communicate with potential talent is undoubtedly through social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and specialist online groups. But for certain organisations that don’t allow staff to have a social media footprint, for security reasons, how do you communicate the opportunities to market?

To get around this the focus needs to be on what the future could look like as an employee and the value/impact the talent could have on the organisation.

Many of today’s employers look for a very particular skill set to match a very specific job description; this doesn’t allow talent to fulfil their potential nor does it promote a culture of mobility or progression. To combat this the spread of attraction strategies should target both blue and white collar workers through testing aptitude and ability. This then highlights where the skill set would best fit within the organisation and produce a career path that works to the talents strengths.

Keeping Talent Engaged – Incubation Period

After the right talent has been located and is going through the assessment stages it is absolutely vital that the participants are kept engaged whether they are successful or not.

The time period from making first contact and completing the assessment process can vary a lot depending on whether the applicants are still at University, finished higher education or an experienced professional. Here are some of the points discussed around the solutions to engagement:

  • Creating external groups for talent to communicate with each other and the business
  • Internal ‘Welcome Team’ to be the go to point of contact for information and questions
  • Being honest about the needs of the business and pain points
  • Automated systems to share information at various stages of the process
  • Using Apps/Tech to measure every individual’s engagement level
  • Training line managers to understand the important part they play in attracting talent
  • Once training has finished the handover from the recruitment team to the business needs to be consistent and to create a journey that makes sense
  • Achieving buy in from parents/family can be highly effective at maintaining engagement from the talent
  • Integrity is key

Maintaining Engagement Throughout the Career

There’s a lot of effort, training and money that goes into hiring the right people, and once deployed into the business or client, the risk of losing the talent increases greatly. How do you mitigate the risk of losing talent from day one at work? Below are points that were discussed and possible solutions that could improve engagement and retention:

  • Set up a buddy scheme that would create a culture of sharing problems and successes
  • Offer clearly defined job descriptions and development that is tailored for specific skill sets and career paths
  • Reverse training – allowing junior members of staff to coach senior employees to bridge the gap that most organisations struggle with
  • Establish a board of graduates/juniors that can offer a view from a different angle and challenge the norm
  • When deploying new members of staff on client site it’s essential communication channels and engagement is maintained through such things as social functions and line managers visiting on site
  • When new employees are moving from training (structured) to working in the business (unstructured) there has to be a transfer of trust and route to air any concerns
  • One of the most effective elements is to give talent the ability to shape their own future by offering a mechanism in which all internal opportunities are made available
  • Line managers are key to retaining talent and maintaining engagement, training managers to operate an open door policy and to always be upskilling their talent is incredibly important

Return on Investment

When talking about how you measure the return on investment (ROI) through talent incubators most organisations normally consider two points, the revenue created by new talent and, more long term, whether the incubators are producing future leaders for the business.

One way to mitigate the risk of time and money spent on training talent is to lock in new hires for a set time frame, which means any leavers within this time frame would be obliged to pay back their training costs.

Marc Gulliver

Written by , Head of Practice - Reward

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