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By Phil Sproston, Region Manager UK & Ireland, Top Employers Institute
By Phil Sproston, Region Manager UK & Ireland, Top Employers Institute

Seven Talent Tips for 2022



There is much to admire in the resilience of UK businesses over the past two years. The dominant themes of 2020 and 2021 have been the mass relocation of the workforce and the impact of the pandemic on mental and physical well-being. Many organisations have responded well to these challenges, and yet many have been facing a new and growing threat – the ongoing battle to attract, develop and retain talent.

Our research among UK Top Employers, conducted mid-pandemic, showed that long-term strategies for recruitment, onboarding and career development had unsurprisingly slipped down the HR priority list, given the existential challenges that most faced. Recruitment and staffing, for example, was the 13th most important priority for HR, down from 8th only a year earlier, while career management fell to 15th from 6th in the same period.

As businesses have returned to some semblance of normality, the adverse impact of this on getting, growing and keeping talent has become much more obvious. With so many organisations facing difficulties around talent, what do UK businesses need to do now to be in the best possible shape for 2022? Here are our seven talent tips…

1. Think deeply, act quickly

Our research shows that Top Employers are having to think and move fast to attract talent. Most (80%) consistently have a long-term acquisition strategy, even more (90%) have defined a framework for talent acquisition, while almost all (98%) give their managers clear tools and ways to assess the job and cultural fit of candidates. There’s always more to do though, with only about three-quarters (73%) feeling they have mapped out and optimised the candidate experience, and about half (50%) using a network of trusted partners to help them exchange or share talent. But the foundation stones are in place for great talent attraction, with a strategy, a framework and the right tools for finding the very best employees widespread among UK Top Employers.

2. Stand out to be Outstanding

Some of the UK’s Top Employers have used unusual talent attraction strategies to stand out from the crowd. For example, HCL Technologies used a mock “hackathon” to get candidates both to solve technical challenges and show their soft skills. This method was ideal for hiring across multiple vacancies that had a common focus on teamwork. In addition, the hackathons saved time, with common assessments and candidate selection made in as little as one day, instead of several weeks as in previous years. The campaign allowed HCL to attract a wider audience of interest and gave tech professionals a chance to compete against one another for highly sought-after positions at the business.

3. Give your new talent a great first impression

Many more businesses are investing in onboarding as part of their talent strategy. Most (94%) of our Top Employers have an onboarding strategy, clear roles and responsibilities (98%) and a common pre-employment package for employees (93%), because they know that first impressions really do count for new employees.

An attention to detail for onboarding programmes is important – the little things really matter. Among our Top Employers, about half (49%) of new hires get access to virtual pre-boarding platform before their first working day. And 60% use specific internal social media groups for new hires.

4. Consistency Counts – make onboarding just the start of a longer journey

UK Top Employer Konica Minolta, a smart data and digital IT services business, has been commended for nurturing and developing talent with consistency throughout all levels of the organisation. Our data nevertheless showed that there were significant gains in onboarding and induction that could be made.

Konica Minolta was able to use the Top Employers Certification Programme to understand its positioning as an employer and how it could link onboarding and induction to other areas of the employee lifecycle. This meant combining benchmarking data with the company’s own knowledge of technology and digital transformation to improve aspects of the employee journey.

5. Embrace the new careers contract between employer and employee

More and more employees expect to join a business that actively helps them develop their careers, whether they are there for the long term or not. The best employers have a clear career management framework, with managers understanding the importance of career development to support their team members.

How best can organisations meet this growing expectation? There is more that they can all do in three areas. Among Top Employers, about a quarter (25%) have consistently dedicated career counsellors to provide advice on next steps, while about a third (35%) of managers’ objectives include KPIs related to career development of their people, and just under a half (46%) offer coaching/mentoring to employees to facilitate career development.

6. Make personalised learning central to skills development

Personalised learning, delivered at scale and the pace to respond to changing circumstances, is a key feature of talent retention. UK Top Employer Virtusa helps its clients to grow their businesses, by providing digital transformation, engineering and outsourcing services across a wide range of sectors globally. And to sustain and improve its employees’ own engagement and well-being in the new environment created by the pandemic, the business needed to reskill all team members quickly in future technologies.

To transform employee capabilities was something that employees also wanted, which led to Virtusa’s unique Engineering IQ (EIQ) Programme. A purposeful and customised approach to learning in a supportive environment rapidly upskilled the Virtusa workforce, so much so that Virtusa’s clients then wanted to launch similar programmes of their own.

7. Let your talent strategy shine brightly

At Top Employers Institute, our purpose is to accelerate the impact of people strategies to enrich the world of work. We do this through our global Certification Programme, with most (85%) of Top Employers believing that the Certification has created value for their organisation. In strengthening their employer brand in this way, 92% of certified Top Employers have made use of their Certification Seal to attract and/or engage talent more effectively. Three-quarters (74%) say that using it has helped their positioning as an employer of choice, while 70% say that it has improved their ability to attract talent.

Get in touch to find out more about the Top Employers Programme and how it can benefit your organisation.