Employers continue to feel the effects of the pandemic, and lasting strains on businesses can include staffing shortages, increased competition for talent, a greater emphasis on remote work and workplace flexibility, unprecedented increases in salaries, and growing pressures to retain an engaged and effective workforce.  

While facing these challenges, it is more important than ever for employers to address and develop their talent management and succession planning processes. Like never before, employees are willing to look for new opportunities in the workforce and many employers have either prepared for, or have directly experienced, the “Great Resignation.” In fact, according to Willis Towers Watson, 44 percent  of employees are also looking for their next opportunity as job seekers. Furthermore, technology now allows employees to work for anyone, anywhere in the world providing even more flexibility for potential job seekers. 

To combat these threats, employers must recruit, reward, recognize, and retain not only their top performers, but individuals they identify as high potentials who have the ability to reach the high-performer level. The most effective way to accomplish this goal is with a true talent management and succession planning program. In the past, talent management was achieved through internal word of mouth and in some cases, sourcing the data from performance evaluations. However, this has proven to be an ineffective way to identify talent.

In many cases, managerial biases can affect the organization’s information on team member performance and managers often have very different views on talent. For instance, how many times have we heard from a manager that an individual only comes to work when they are scheduled, so they must not be committed to the organization? However, further analysis would show that the employee is actually one of the highest performers in the company. With a true talent management and succession plan in place, employers can more effectively combat scenarios like this and other challenges that stem from retaining employees. 

We’ve also seen an increase in the number of challenges associated with retaining talent, particularly in hard-to-find positions, over the past several years. In 2018, Teachers Credit Union faced this very issue. We saw local and regional employers actively recruiting TCU employees, enticing them with higher salaries and more lucrative vacation packages. And even though this strategy can provide a temporary solution, it can be costly and, in many cases, does not provide a sustainable hiring model.

“We believe the correct tools will simplify, enhance, and create transparency that will assist our organization as we continue to build our talent management and succession strategies”

More importantly, the situation forced us to take a long, hard look at the systems within our organization. Specifically, do we need to change our vacation policy, are our salary ranges and classifications accurate, are our base salaries too low? We were confident that our salary ranges, and salary data was in fact correct. So, at that time, we decided to make a concerted effort to increase our bench strength and not just increase salaries. We reintroduced our Retail Management Trainee Program and put a renewed emphasis on internships and our CO-OP program (high school student employees). This adopted strategy placed an urgency on developing the next generation of leaders and A-level talent within the organization, along with identifying our current top performers, with the goal of being able to better retain current staff members while providing the ability to identify and retain future talent. A few years later, we’ve seen that this model is succeeding.

Taking this grass roots approach requires organizations to be committed to development, training, mentoring, and coaching. It is not a quick fix. However, this strategy has afforded the credit union the ability to absorb some of the losses that may occur throughout the year. It has also allowed us to allocate more of our limited funds to recruiting top performers, and filling our most critical, vacant positions.

Although, we have had a Human Capital Management system since 2006, when it came to talent management and succession, we were not utilizing its full capabilities. More importantly, we are now assessing our current tools to determine if they will satisfy our needs as an organization now, and over the next decade ahead. We believe the correct tools will simplify, enhance, and create transparency that will assist our organization as we continue to build our talent management and succession strategies. 

Now more than ever, it is critical that organizations implement, develop, or update their talent management efforts. True talent management has been proven to decrease turnover rates, increase engagement and help fill the more unique and mission-critical positions within an organization.  Companies are challenged with limited resources, talent shortages and turnover. It is with these factors in mind that talent management and succession become an essential part of an organization’s strategy. Through true talent management and succession, organizations can help identify, retain, and reward their internal talent, which is critical to the success of any company in today’s ever-changing markets.