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HR Chief Reveals 3 Top Talent Strategy Priorities

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When it comes to managing and optimizing your people, important talent strategy focus areas for HR include employee retention, employee experience and leader effectiveness.

ADP Chief Talent Officer Jay Caldwell said these were his top three talent strategy priorities, and he explained why in an interview.

Employee retention remains a challenge for HR because the turnover churn of the last few years and pivoting with constant change have contributed to a workforce that’s often teetering on the brink of burnout. “Organizations really need to pay attention to where there’s [turnover] risk, and [be] potentially predictive around where there’s going to be risk in the organization,” Caldwell said.

Closely related to retention is your company’s employee experience. “We’re all competing for talent. So having a great experience for your employees day in and day out will help you win in the marketplace,” he said.

Leader effectiveness is a talent strategy priority, Caldwell said, because, “you remember the old saying [that] people don’t leave companies, they leave their managers. … In many ways, companies that focus on [employee] experience and leader effectiveness can impact retention.”

Data and Talent Strategy

Employee retention and experience strategy needs to be data-driven, according to Caldwell.

He recommended following the ADP Research Institute, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Gartner and The Conference Board to stay on top of what’s happening in the labor markets, as well as staying informed about the trends in your industry.

For gathering data on how employees are feeling, surveys are tried and true. Caldwell’s favorite approach is to ask one or two simple questions at certain moments, rather than sending out a lengthy annual survey.

He noted that modern, AI-powered analytics tools can help HR pros quickly process important qualitative data, especially the comments from surveys.

And don’t underestimate the insights that come from face-to-face conversations with employees, he said.

An enlightening data set for employee experience comes from transactional survey measurements related to your Employee Net Promoter Score. “For example, how’s the candidate experience going with the talent acquisition team? What’s onboarding looking like 45 days after somebody’s in their role? … How does the experience look like in key life moments, like when [employees] have to go on a leave of absence, or [they’re] having a baby and [they] have to change [their] benefits? How easy are these experiences? Any time where the transactions are at a high-stakes moment, I think it’s really important to understand how [the HR organization is] supporting those moments,” Caldwell said.

Leadership Effectiveness and Talent Strategy

“One of the best ways to measure leader effectiveness for companies is to measure the extent to which there’s followership. … Being able to measure how often leaders connect with their people, and the quality of those connections in terms of frequent conversations, or being able to measure … what does engagement look like on a team by team … basis, not just at the overall company level … and then focusing on outcomes,” he said, giving an actionable example of a department manager who’s had 15% voluntary turnover three years in a row.

Caldwell’s main takeaway for HR leaders looking to improve their talent strategy: Keep it simple and use your data to identify the top one or two areas in your organization that need immediate attention.

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