Back to Latest Posts

We Want You! (Now Get To Work!)

This coming Friday (November 18, 2011), I will be speaking at the MnCUPA-HR (Minnesota College and University Professional Association for Human Resources) fall conference.  The conference title is, HR as Business Partner: Tackling Employee Engagement and Retention.  When I was called by one of the conference organizers, I was asked if I would like to speak on how recruiting effects retention.   My initial reaction (thankfully a silent reaction) was, wait - we recruit people directly from one organization to the benefit of another (often a competitor).  I know how recruiting effects retention! Thankfully, my second reaction was what I went with.

Why do people take our calls when we reach out to them?

In today's organizations, recruiting (talent acquisition) is often thought to be an externally focused activity.  Retention is thought to be an internal activity.

What if we thought about these two activities differently?

Imagine if we looked at recruiting as a set of ongoing internal activities to keep current employees engaged, productive and developing.  Retention activities would then, in many ways, become redundant.  Most of these 'retention' activities could be focused on the organization's image.  External recruiting could then capitalize on these activities.  Candidates would proactively seek the organization out.

Advice has been out there since at least 1997 (McKinsey's original work on War For Talent)

The first work I encountered in this area AFTER helping to start what has become Abeln, Magy, Underberg & Associates was McKinsey's work.  They came out with a list of seven talent imperatives for winning the war.  Some of these included (and still include):
  • Instill a talent mindset in the organization - starting with senior management
  • Create an "extreme" employee value proposition - the answer to the question, why do I want to work here?
  • Make room for talent to grow
Googling this topic in preparation for the upcoming conference, I found similar, but more recent, advice from Jim Sullivan, CEO of  He published a list of 13 Smart Recruiting and Retention Strategies.  While I won't list the 13 here, the themes are the same as from 1997 - he simply words them in more current terms:
  • Recruiting is branding.  So is retention.
  • Measure, celebrate and reward the managers who attract and retain the best people.
  • Make hiring the MOST IMPORTANT decision.
Our next post will give additional information from the conference.  That said, the best advice from all the literature reviewed for the upcoming conference was very simple - and the #1 item from Jim Sullivan's above referenced list:
  • Select the right person in the first place.