Six Strategies for Excelling in a Tight Labor Market!

The U.S. labor market is extremely competitive, with the jobless rates in some metropolitan areas well below the national average. Your company won’t get the employees you need by offering the same pay and perks as every other employer or by spending more on third-party recruiters.  To land and keep key talent, you have to create a talent mindset within your company.

Companies with a talent mindset have significantly better business results and higher shareholder returns, profitability and growth. Need proof?  Read the research from Gallup in their State of the Global Workforce Report, from Towers Watson in their report Driving Engagement Through a Consumer-Like Experience, and from McKinsey and Company in the book, The War for Talent or more recently, the McKinsey report Making Talent a Strategic Priority, and finally, the Harvard Business Review article, “Building a Game-Changing Talent Strategy” (Jan. /Feb. 2014).

Following are six strategies for creating a talent mindset and excelling in a tight labor market:

  1. Every leader is an active recruiter, mentor, and a champion for his or her work teams. Members of your executive and management team should meet with new hires to review the organization’s mission, purpose and key strategies and invite and be open to questions. They should take an active interest in their employees’ development, identify high potential talent early, and provide opportunities for employees to learn new skills and grow within the organization.
  2. Promote a well-defined employer brand as much as you promote your marketing brand. Your employer brand needs to showcase your company’s purpose, principles and how your culture is performance-based, not centered on politics. You should be clear and transparent about the three “Ps” and discuss them often as part of your employer brand!  There are many great companies to look to for inspiration, including: LinkedIn, Johnson and Johnson, and Google.
  3. Follow the research on best talent management strategies and analyze your own work force data. Understand the competencies of your best performers and learn how to excite and reward them. In my experience, applying what you learn from your workforce analysis can significantly improve the results of your recruiting, development and performance management practices. The Wall Street Journal reported that the number of companies using pre-employment assessments has risen from 26% in 2001 to 57% in 2013, with improved results for selecting better job candidates and reducing new hire churn.[i]
  4. Reward excellence with recognition, pay, incentives, and career advancement. Rewarding excellence is how you keep your best performers. Reward great performance with recognition, higher pay and career advancement. Despite the best recruiting practices, every company will have poor performers. The first focus with poor performers should be on training and motivation. When that fails reassign them to roles they are better suited for or respectfully transitioning them out of the company.
  5. Ensure that your leaders have the emotional intelligence and versatility to work effectively with women, men, all age groups, and employees from different cultural backgrounds. The increasing number of women in the workforce, the unique needs and demands of three concurrent working generations, including Millennials, the accelerating globalization of business, and the Internet of everything have made one style of leadership is too limiting. Leaders need self-awareness, knowledge of others’ expectations and versatility to successfully manage today’s workforce.
  6. Offer a flexible work environment that enables employees to have more control over their busy lives. Nine to five in the office for every job is old school.  Employees are working for pay an average of 48 hours a week (U.S. defined exempt workers)[ii] and 58.5 hours a week when domestic chores and child rearing are included (both sexes).[iii] Employers cannot expect that all work can be done in the office and that employees can be on call 24-7. Employers who figure how to provide flexible work environments that enable the space, time and technology their different work teams need will have an advantage in attracting and retaining great employees. In my experience, 25% to 40% of jobs can be performed better by home-based or mobile workers and virtual work teams. Need more proof?  Read Results Based Management, The Key to Unlocking Talent, Increasing Productivity from, Workflex: The Essential Guide to Effective and Flexible Workplaces by the Families and Work Institute, and my white paper Form Follows Function available from my website.

What is your company doing differently to attract employees in this tight labor market? I would like to hear from you.

Victor Assad is a strategic human resources consultant and coach who works with key decision makers and human resources leaders on talent management, accelerating change, leadership development, mergers and acquisitions, and creating a flexible workplace. To learn more about creating a talent mindset in your company, order his free white paper, “Comprehensive Talent Management Systems” from or e-mail Victor at

[i] Lauren Weber (April 14, 2015, 11:13 p.m. ET) “Today’s Personality Tests Raise the Bar for Job Seekers: More companies use assessments to hire, with fewer willing to take a chance on anyone who doesn’t measure up.”  The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from -job-1429065001.

[ii] Lydia Saad “The ’40-Hour’ Workweek Is Actually Longer – by Seven Hours. Full-time U.S. workers, on average, report working 47 hours weekly.” (August 29, 2014). Retrieved from

[iii] Kim Parker and Wendy Wang (Marc 14, 2013) “Modern Parenthood: Roles of Moms and Dads Converge as They Balance Work and Family.” Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends. Retrieved from

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