Guide to Talent Management Strategy in 2024

Guide to Talent Management Strategy in 2024

Companies need a fresh approach to talent management if they want to see success. Recruiting, training, and keeping talent based solely on location or payroll status may no longer be feasible given the reality that workers may change their status within each of those categories at any time during their careers. The workforce is growing increasingly flexible. And that requires an equally flexible talent management strategy that embraces the myriad of configurations in today’s work environments.

The new normal is that you can no longer define a new normal. Companies have the freedom to configure teams and talent to their best competitive advantage while recognizing that today’s in-demand talent has more choices than ever regarding how and where to work.

This article will discuss:

What is talent management?

Talent management is the process of attracting, assessing, hiring, onboarding, developing, motivating, and retaining a high-performance workforce. Effective talent management requires an understanding of your organization’s talent needs as well as finding the best way to meet those needs.

A good talent manager knows where the company’s talent holes are and understands the growth potential of each member of their organization’s current workforce. Taking both these elements into consideration, talent managers plan and act on a strategy to fill in the talent gaps.

This may entail taking affirmative steps to encourage team members to reach their maximum potential, or it may involve actively seeking new talent. Either way, the goal is to develop and/or onboard the professionals needed to meet the organization’s current or expected needs.

At its essence, talent management is both the art of matching the right people with the right positions and ensuring that future gaps are anticipated and accounted for before they become problematic.

The importance of talent management

One of your company’s greatest assets is its people. Talent management recognizes that every person should be positioned in a role that enables their success—so they can support the success of the company.

When a company’s business strategy includes developing and implementing a solid talent management strategy, the following happens:

  • The best and brightest stay. Talent management increases the retention of outstanding employees. This can save your company in recruitment costs and help it attract better talent when looking outside the organization to fill open roles. A company that develops, challenges, and appreciates top talent will gain a reputation for providing a positive employee experience.
  • Workers bring their A-games. When team members know there is a system in place to ensure their talents are recognized and rewarded, they naturally become more engaged. And an engaged workforce performs at higher levels, which can positively impact your bottom line.
  • All bases are covered. A well-executed talent management process—one that embraces both workforce planning and succession planning—ensures that all critical roles are covered no matter what happens. The ability to maintain operational efficiency without placing an undue burden on a company’s workforce is one of the greatest benefits of talent management.  
  • Client satisfaction increases. When the right people are in the right seats, worker satisfaction runs high. Who doesn’t perform better when their talents align with the expectations of their position? Better workforce performance translates into better customer service and a more positive client experience.
  • Business goals are met. No matter what your business goals are—reaching a financial milestone, increasing industry share, or enhancing brand awareness —when workers bring their A-games, HR teams keep positions filled with the right people, and clients are satisfied, making it easier to meet business goals.

The difference between talent acquisition and talent management

Simply stated, talent acquisition is concerned with attracting and onboarding quality candidates, while talent management is the process of developing your workforce into superstars who want to stay and grow with your company. Although talent acquisition and talent management are often used interchangeably, the terms refer to different points on the same workforce management process loop.

During the talent acquisition process, for instance, HR professionals typically focus on implementing an outreach strategy to attract quality candidates. The role of the talent acquisition team is to attract, recruit, and vet applicants—qualifying them based on skill set and fit with the organizational culture—and then hire and onboard the most qualified candidates.

When focusing on talent management, on the other hand, the HR team takes this newly onboarded workforce—and the team members already in place—and works with leadership to develop each individual in a way that supports their career path while also furthering the company’s goals.

Talent management gives company leadership leave to look beyond a team member’s current role, recognize the potential for growth, and then nurture staff.

Best practices when creating a talent management strategy

Each company and team member are unique. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for managing talent. However, there are some best practices to keep in mind as you consider what works best for your organization.

Consider the benefits of hybrid teams

Developing hybrid teams made up of long-term independent contractors, full- or part-time employees, or short-term freelancers has many benefits. For instance:

  • It becomes easier to retain your dream team. Since keeping the right talent for the right positions is a tremendous challenge for almost every company, staying open to all kinds of team configurations—including developing a hybrid team—can increase your talent pool exponentially. Think about it. If you stay open to a mix of full-time employees and freelancers who may prefer to work remotely, you’ll retain teams that were unimaginable in a pre-digital age.
  • You can reduce business costs. By retaining freelance help to round out a team as needed, you not only save on payroll costs, but you can also increase efficiencies. When you tap into freelance talent on a project or as-needed basis, you eliminate talent underutilization while also avoiding employee burnout. Hybrid teams allow you to tap into talent when you need it while still holding onto your core in-house people. .
  • You may see lower turnover. Staying open to a hybrid workforce usually translates into higher retention rates. When you create a balanced work environment where your FTEs are supported during crunch times, you help lower the rate of burnout and decrease work-related stress, potentially leading to lower turnover.

Encourage flexible frameworks

If possible, provide a flexible framework in which team members can accomplish critical goals and projects. For example, consider a scenario where FTEs and freelancers work in different time zones and complete assignments on different timelines. Rather than seeing this as a disruption in the workflow, encourage your FTEs to accommodate—and even embrace—these situations, recognizing the benefits of tapping into this additional talent in helping the team succeed.  

Stretch skill sets

Consider creating an environment where team members can stretch. For example, if a full-time team member was hired for their expertise in website design but has expressed an interest in developing skills in search engine optimization (SEO) content creation and management, encourage them to take a temporary transfer to another department while you fill in the gap with contracted talent. Because you embrace a talent management strategy that includes freelancers, you’re in a position to encourage team members to grow professionally, a key element of a positive work experience.

Of course, this option may not always be feasible. There are other ways to encourage employees to stretch, though. For instance, you can provide tuition reimbursement for new skills training. The idea is to improve worker experience by supporting professional growth.

Trust the kaleidoscope effect

Don’t expect to develop a talent management model that remains the same indefinitely. Workplaces are never static, and you’ll need to optimize your strategy regularly.

Talk to workers about how you would like to jigsaw their latent talents into tasks you may not have discussed with them initially. Be receptive to their hidden skills or desire for further experience in a new field.

Think of this as a sort of “kaleidoscope effect” where you keep turning the cylinder of your team to all possible angles, allowing you to tune into where different people’s natural abilities take them. This technique requires both sound planning and the ability to push all your plans to the wayside so that you can transition your workforce as opportunity and necessity dictate.

Adapt your talent management strategy

Your talent management strategy is not meant to be static. Rather, talent management is a dynamic process that promotes growth and change as it grows with your company. The talent management strategy of a small startup with a handful of team members will be markedly different from that of a Fortune 500 company with many offices, divisions, and teams.

A sound talent management strategy will have room to develop. For example, in the beginning, you may offer to reimburse team members for pre-approved online training. As your company grows, you might be able to bring in the resources to develop personalized training protocols for workers who meet certain career development criteria.

Over time, you’ll invariably add layers of programs, protocols, and procedures to incentivize teams toward meeting their professional goals and potential. In fact, the small initial steps that you take to develop a talent management strategy will be one of the driving forces behind your company’s growth and your ability to create an even greater environment where workers can define and meet their career aspirations.

Talent management strategy examples

The following are examples of talent management strategies that can help support career growth and workplace satisfaction.

Create a career development-focused workplace for team members

One of the key components of your talent management strategy will be finding ways to develop a workplace where team members can grow and flourish to their greatest potential. While supporting budding talent sounds easy, it takes planning, dedication, and a commitment of financial resources. Building a career development-focused workplace should not only be ingrained in the company’s culture, but it should also be systemic and sustainable to succeed.

Some effective strategies to create a career development-focused workplace include:

  • Creating personalized development plans: Have a supervisor or HR personnel work with each team member to create a personalized development plan that reflects their career goals and interests. This plan should be detailed enough to provide a pathway for measurement and success, but flexible enough to allow the team member to pivot their goals as they become more ingrained in the company and learn about different career options. Set a timeline for the team member to revisit the plan with leadership and receive feedback on progress.
  • Establishing a mentorship program: Invite senior staff to mentor junior team members. Pairings should be based on the junior worker’s interests and goals. Establish a system for meeting—such as a coffee date once a month—to work on the junior staff member’s development plan or develop certain skills.

Offering a way for your team members to better themselves and their prospects ensures you’ll have people internally groomed for more senior positions as they arise. Career development programs can help engender loyalty among workers and help them feel valued.

But keep in mind that not every team member has the same potential, and some will benefit more from a career development-focused workplace than others. The result could be feelings of being left behind or undervalued, and that could lead to disruptions in the workplace. There are also costs associated with career development initiatives. There will be some loss of productivity as management and staff time is spent focusing on career development rather than immediate company business.

Base positions around the cultural fit of team members

You can mentor, train, and develop your team indefinitely, but if they aren’t a good culture fit, no one will be happy. Finding people who can work together toward a common goal is especially important in distributed work environments where team members might rarely, if ever, interact face to face in real time.

The benefits of seeking out and nurturing people who share compatibility with your company culture are great. Like-minded people who share similar values experience less workplace conflict. This translates into a more productive workforce.

However, there are drawbacks to focusing too narrowly on company culture. If not approached with awareness and heavy introspection, you could end up inadvertently creating an atmosphere of exclusion built on bias. The trick is being able to discern company culture compatibility from greater cultural biases.

Offer continuous, open training, and development opportunities

Whether your company offers formal internal training programs, sends workers to seminars or continuing education classes, or offers tuition reimbursement. It’s a good talent management practice to offer some type of training benefit so that workers can enhance their existing skills or gain new ones.

The benefits of training are that you get to develop an enhanced workforce with a knowledge base that can be structured to align with the company’s growth plans, helping to ensure that the right people will grow into the right positions.

But there are also potential drawbacks. Training takes time away from work and can be a significant cost to the business. Once a team member completes training or reaches a higher level of proficiency in a certain area, there’s no guarantee the company will reap the benefits.

The worker may have expectations of immediate remunerative benefits in the form of a promotion or pay increase. If those expectations aren’t met, they may leave your company for another that offers more opportunity. You would essentially be investing in their training to the benefit of another organization, even potentially a competitor.

To stave off potential problems, make sure the team member feels supported and appreciated. While training doesn’t always lead to immediate remuneration in the form of a raise, it does help the team member improve their skills, and that ultimately has value for both them and the company.

Talent management supports business success

When carefully constructed and given room to evolve both organically and through conscious adjustment, a sound talent management strategy can be one of your company’s greatest attributes. The key is recognizing how to reconcile the needs of the organization with the needs of an ever-evolving workforce to achieve a work environment that supports both team member growth and business success.

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Author Spotlight

Guide to Talent Management Strategy in 2024
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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