We hear repeatedly that attracting and retaining talent is a major issue for economic development organizations today. Often, the HR department is looked to as being the responsible entity for carrying out this task. However, it is more of a marketing assignment to market your place of work as a place to connect, collaborate, and contribute.

One aspect of the new world of recruiting is that the demographics have changed. There are now multiple positions available for every person there is to fill them. Unfortunately, many organizations operate as if this were just the opposite. This can be seen in the slow response time to applicants seeking a position. Millennials will tell you that they will wait for one to two weeks to hear back on a position for which they have applied. Millennials are looking for meaningful work. They want to understand the why as much as the how and what of the assignment.

We are also facing the retirement of the baby boomers who are eligible to retire at the rate of 10,000 per day for the next 20 years. When I’ve asked organizations how many of their coworkers are eligible to retire in the next three to five years, I’m often told it is about 25%.

Another issue in the mix is the transition of small business ownership. When we analyzed the number of small businesses started 30 years ago, we find that most of those are owned by baby boomers. We’re going to see a major transition in ownership impacting hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs.

The low workforce participation rate following the pandemic is exasperating the hiring process. Many of us have learned the benefits of working from home and creating a gig worker economy.  As such, we will become part of the “great resignation” if we are not allowed to work from home at least part of the time.

Traditional hiring practices were designed for a time when there was an abundance of applicants. Today’s practice needs to emphasize inviting people in (rather than filtering people out). These challenges include difficult company job application processes, long interview cycles, lack of consistent recruiting contact, lack of moving expenses, and/or a trailing spouse with employment needs to address.

Employee retention is as important as recruiting new employees, especially those who have relocated for their job. There is also a need to help socialize and integrate new employees into the community. Special attention should be paid to those who relocate and are single, without children in school, and/or from more urban areas with mass transit options. Forty percent of new hires are unsatisfied with their new position and begin looking elsewhere.

With a dynamic workforce and 10,000 baby boomers eligible to retire every year for the next 20 years, the demographically driven talent issue is likely to be with us for the foreseeable future. We should plan accordingly.

Talent Recruitment and Human Resource Management tend to require different skill sets. They are complementary in the organization, not functions of the other. For example, recruiting focuses primarily on candidate outreach, candidate management/experience, interviewing, and closing, while Human Resources focuses primarily on on-boarding/off-boarding, employee performance/relations, and legal compliance. For maximum effectiveness, Recruitment and Human Resources should partner closely but should be seen as two separate activities with dedicated staff, budgets, and performance goals.

What are your thoughts on this issue, and how is your company addressing this process?