What does workforce planning really mean? Talent management? Recruitment and retention?

Could we amend our thinking around what retention stands for?
Bernard Salt spoke at the recent "State of the Industry" dinner for the Recruitment & Consulting Services Association in Melbourne, at which I was a special guest of CEO Julie Mills. Bernard recounted a story whereby a lawyer had in years previous, lamented at how they would invest considerable time, resources, training, development, etc., into graduates with the expectation that these new recruits would become long-term valuable members of the firm.

Of course, Gen Y being what they are, head for the UK where the wages are wonderful, the currency exchange rate is even better and life is a lark with travel, booze and parties. Bernard bumped into this same law firm partner a fortnight ago and he chuckled how a lot of these young law graduates had been retrenched due to the economic downturn, and were emailing him with their availability for re-employment at his practice.

Could we consider the word, retention, to infer that although employees may leave, the relationship is at such a level of trust, liking and respect -- that they will come back when ready?

Baby Boomer's are retiring. I wonder how delighted they might be if you were to offer them the opportunity to return after an initial "retirement holiday" to become mentors and coaches for other employees at your firm? Retaining them so you and your people can have access to their "smarts".

Do you really need to replace someone when they leave? Maybe that particular role could be absorbed by sharing it with a few existing staff? It could become a job share? Maybe it's only a part-time role now. With the changes in technology, you don't need a full-time person with all the associated costs. It may well be the work could be completed by a remote employee, working from home with flexible hours.

When Mothers retire from the workforce -- could you offer them opportunities for sporadic employment after they have settled in to their new full-time role?

We all enjoy perusing exciting menus in restaurants. How can you create an exciting menu of job roles, opportunities, challenges, compensation, remuneration, etc in your business?

What if we, as employers, stopped thinking in terms of "jobs" but rather "careers"?

No to "one size fits all" ... Yes to "Career Customisation".
No to full-time employees ... Yes to a "Working Parents Toolkit".
No to focus on the jobs ... Yes to developing your "bench strength".
No to rigid dimensions and employees as a "resource" ... Yes to "pragmatic loyalty".
No to the shackles of past employment practices ... Yes to the (insert your company name here) Alumni.

What if we viewed our employees as clients of the firm?
What if we created a database for "best fit" internal clients to operational requirements?
What if we "talent-pooled" with other organisations and formed "employment strategic alliances"?

What potential might this have for your business?

Might it help to alleviate the skill shortage?
Might it improve your ability to retain access to good people?
Might it promote employee loyalty to your business?

Ric Willmot

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