businessman boxingWe are approaching one of the highest risk times of year for talent management teams, which is the first quarter of the year. In the HR world, the January Talent Transfer War is a perfect storm as the new year resolve of ambitious candidates and career changers meets the new budget season and increased hiring sentiment of employers. In fact, according to figures from Monster, this boost in hiring activity extends until March. I call it a war as there are winners and losers.

At the end of the period, some firms will have fully staffed their organizations to meet their 2014 strategic initiatives and others will be lagging with empty desks, causing projects delays and over-runs, putting 2014 business objects at risk. The question is, “Where will you be standing at the end of the first quarter talent transfer season?” Will you be standing on the side of the winners or the losers? Of course, it can depend on the tactics you can adopt between now and March, and below I have set several tactics to help you win the January talent transfer war.

1. Appraisals. Yes, good old-fashioned employee appraisals! You should conduct employee appraisals during this high-risk period as this is a great way for managers to get a handle on any issues that your talent may have, which could be driving them away or at least make them vulnerable to an approach from another employer or recruiter. There are many potential negative drivers, which mean that certain employees are at high risk of leaving, such as:

  • Lack of career advancement and promotion opportunities
  • Lack of job fit, boring job
  • Insufficient pay and benefits
  • Poor relationship with manager/problems with work environment

Coach and rally your managers to be proactive and conscientious about addressing as many of these issues as possible, ensuring there are action plans in place for every employee to address every issue raised. In particular, make sure that the career development plans for all staff are completed as this will help to address the number one reason that good employees leave, namely, lack of career development.

2. Annual pay adjustment. Conduct detailed pay surveys every year and try and raise your pay to keep up with the rise in the cost of living, which  your employees may be experiencing. No annual pay rise in a high inflationary climate is a ‘pay cut’ in real terms, which will aggravate your employees and make them more susceptible to leaving. Try and time your pay rise announcements around this high-risk period for maximum retention effect and so employees know where they stand.

3. Bonuses. This is not an easy thing to fix between now and the first quarter as you may have already made promises. But, where this can be done without upsetting employees, move bonus payments until the end of the first quarter, which will be another incentive for employees to stay during the intense hiring period. You could compensate for the later annual bonus payment by making a small, interim Christmas/Holiday bonus payment.

4. Engage with and inspire staff. Set out the vision and calendar for the year, showing all the exciting developments that employees have to look forward to and communicate this to the staff in a formal but inspiring way. Get them thinking positively about the future.

5. Boost your employee referral bonus. All our research tells us that employee referrals are one of the most influential forms of hiring and the best way to attract talent. So, why not kill two birds with one stone by engaging your employees in referral activity by either introducing a referral bonus or boosting that referral bonus during the intense hiring season – and at the same time increase your chance of attracting top talent during the high-risk transfer period.

Good luck in the January talent transfer war.



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