Let Core Values Guide Your Talent Strategy

Let Core Values Guide Your Talent Strategy

If you’re a business owner or CEO, you’re already acutely aware of the frustrating talent shortage. Unfortunately, I have bad news for you; the current talent shortage will not improve over the next decade. It will worsen. Therefore, your future success depends on having a talent acquisition and retention strategy. But where to begin?

Fortunately, I have some good news, too. One bold step will help you attract and retain talent. Before we discuss that action, let’s talk about what the U.S. talent pool and the worsening shortage look like from a numbers perspective.

The Talent Deficiency

A 2018 study by Korn Ferry segments the talent pool into three categories: A, B and C. Level A workers are highly skilled with post-secondary education, such as college or university, or a high-level trade college qualification. Level B workers have mid-level skills with upper secondary education, such as high school, or a low-level trade college qualification. Finally, Level C workers possess a low skill level with less than upper secondary education.

The precise numbers of the talent shortage vary by category as well as industry. Additionally, the shortage is (mostly) a worldwide phenomenon. Visit Korn Ferry’s website to learn more about this $85 trillion problem and download their Briefings magazine, Future of Work: The Global Talent Crunch.

Korn Ferry’s study pegs the current U.S. labor market deficient by up to 6 million workers. (Note that while this study was conducted before COVID-19 devastated select industries, there is no sign that those workers have either re-skilled or transitioned to alternative industries). Unfortunately, by 2030 this figure will double with the U.S. talent pool deficient by up to 12 million workers. There are many reasons for the growing talent deficit, yet one thing is crystal clear—the growing talent shortage will have an outsized, negative impact upon small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This means that regardless of your company’s size or industry, you need a talent strategy. Do you have one?

It will be impossible for SMEs to craft a single, silver bullet solution that solves the problem. Instead, the best talent strategies will knit together a variety of tactics. All four of the following tactics must be a part of your strategy:

  • Higher pay
  • More flexible working conditions
  • Continual and enhanced recruitment
  • Internal career development programs

In addition, there’s one key element that most organizations overlook: core values.

According to research conducted by Gartner in 2020, approximately “74% of employees expect their organization to become more actively involved in current cultural debates of the day.” Over the past several years, we’ve seen evidence of enterprise-sized organizations embracing this new role. Now it’s time for the SME community to do the same. However, it’s very difficult for organizations to choose which issues to lean into when they lack a developed framework around which to center their decisions.

Enter Core Values

Core values are the connective tissue that bind your organization’s talent strategy together. They provide a filter, which enables you to make decisions about your strategy (talent and otherwise) and allows you to claim a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Every one of the four sample talent strategy tactics that I noted earlier in this article should be driven by your organization’s core values. That’s because your values must speak to both internal and external stakeholders. And they must speak LOUDLY.

Developing, adopting, and constantly living core values within your organization is the bold step you must take.

If you’re confused about what constitutes a core value, uncertain where your organization currently stands with its existing core values, or interested in developing your own core values, please see a few of my previous articles.

Many leaders fail to grasp the power that core values can unleash within their organizations. With the increasing talent shortage staring you smack in the face, the only question about core values is whether you’ll act now and harness their power or continue to blame circumstances beyond your control that are stacking the talent deck against you.

Which path will you choose?

If you want to develop and leverage core values to strengthen your talent acquisition and retention strategy, let’s talk!


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