How to Win the Talent War in 2024: 10 Expert Tips for Today's Job Market

By Chris Cosper

how to win talent war

dateFri, Apr 26, 2024 @ 11:00 AM

In today’s rapidly changing work environment, the competition for recruiting and retaining top talent has never been tougher. Rhythm Systems works with mid-market companies across all industries, and the #1 challenge we consistently hear holding companies back today is staffing. To gain some insight into the specifics of the issue, we hosted a special Q&A with EY (Ernst & Young) talent expert Randy Beck. We learned that winning the talent war goes beyond talent acquisition, hiring practices, and employee retention to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage. Here are some top takeaways from that particular event to compete in a tight labor market.

how to win the talent war

10 Ways to Win the Talent War

Recognize that employees at various levels in the company are attracted to different benefits, so customize your strategies to match your needs. Frontline workers, mid-level employees (including managers and subject matter experts), and C-level executives are motivated differently. The best leaders are winning the competition for talent to win the talent war. Be clear about the level you're recruiting for, know your audience, and customize your approach to attract and retain talent for the long term. Here are a few starters from business leaders on talent management to get you thinking about winning the war:

Frontline Workers are looking for:

  • Opportunities to start work quickly and easily - how can you remove friction from the hiring process?
  • Flexibility to care for families - children and elderly - as conditions outside their control change the proverbial work-life balance
  • Health and safety related to all aspects of the job, including COVID-19 policies

Mid-level Employees are looking for:

  • Clear career paths and developmental opportunities
  • A healthy culture, core values match, and a positive work environment
  • Other A-players - top performers want to work with and for other top performers and create a high-performing team
  • Opportunities to work from home when appropriate

C-level Executives are looking for:

  • The right fit between their specific talents/experiences and the role you're hiring for
  • Opportunities to bring something unique and valuable to the company
  • Healthy team dynamics with other executives on the team
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  • Pay is essential to job seekers- you must be competitive - but people have reevaluated their priorities this past year and seem willing to trade the highest salary for a position that offers them a well-rounded package. Company culture, employee well-being, flexible working options, connection to a greater purpose, and opportunities for career growth are critical in today's market. Talent acquisition requires a 360-degree view of all the benefits to the job seeker - pay, culture, benefits, the opportunity for advancement, personal growth, and more, which are important to team members.
  • Networking is still the best way to find a job and the best way to find workers. Start with communities of people who have a connection to you and know something about your company and your business. Many companies successfully recruit retirees and former employees (Boomerangs) back into the office with flexible work options that didn't exist when they worked there before. It's essential to recognize that people are changing jobs more frequently today than in the past, and their experience as they exit your company could be the beginning of a whole new recruitment cycle.
  • Flexibility is critical. We've all been forced to experiment with non-standard work situations over the past year that we would never have voluntarily implemented. But we've learned during this time that there are many benefits to these flexible and hybrid work arrangements, and the talent market demands that we keep an open mind and consider new and creative work solutions in the future. Consider hiring part-time workers to increase flexibility and variable costs, contract workers to bring in specific skills, and "work from anywhere" strategies to remove geographical boundaries to recruiting.
  • The "Gig Economy" is thriving. As people redesign their lives, many leave the full-time grind of working for just one company. They're pleased moving from one project to the next, working with multiple companies, and choosing what to say yes to and what to say no to. A contingent workforce also offers many benefits for the employer for the right roles, including fast access to a broad and deep pool of talent, increased flexibility, and decreased cost overall. It would be best to look everywhere for the needed skills to win the talent war.
  • Employee engagement is critical. Many are asking how to engage a remote workforce, and the answer is to not differentiate in-office from remote engagement. Your efforts should be holistic and consistent, regardless of where your employees are. Age-old answers like continuous feedback, recognition, learning, and growth opportunities remain true. Technology makes it possible to do these things no matter where your workers are. You can get creative, and don't use physical distance as an excuse.
  • Family Business Succession Planning has always been essential but is usually considered more to minimize a company's threat or weakness. Today, you can use succession planning as an excellent retention and recruiting tool. It creates future opportunities, drives engagement, provides a path for individual development, and preserves the culture by developing and promoting from within where possible.
  • Social media marketing is your friend. When you have an open position, think about something other than posting a standard job description on traditional job boards. Think of it as a marketing and PR exercise. Tell the company's story, culture, purpose, and opportunities. Why would someone choose to work for you over all the other companies hiring right now? And remember that your current workforce is your most extensive network of recruiters. Encourage employees to post and share job openings, and incentivize them to bring friends and family to you.
  • Provide an inspiring vision and core purpose. More than ever, people are choosing to work for companies that can clearly articulate their reason for being. Make sure your vision and strategy are well documented and presented in a way that makes it easy for people to connect their daily work to the greater good. Invest in strategic planning, town-hall company meetings, and a tool like Rhythm that connects strategy to execution.
  • Continue to invest in technology. Advances in AI, bots, and new apps have allowed companies to reduce the headcount needed to do the same work as just a few years ago. If you have yet to assess your workflows, processes, and tech systems recently, you may not need to fill every open position. Remember that remote workers need access to the same quality equipment and system as in-office workers. Many of us patched together home offices at the beginning of 2020, but now that we're normalizing remote work, it's time to equip our employees appropriately.

Whether we like it or not, the nature of work has changed, and the "future of work" is here! The companies that will thrive in the next few years will learn to embrace that change and figure out how to make it work for them and avoid the bad hire. Pay attention to what your employees and prospects tell you with an open mind and a creative spirit, and you’ll do well.

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Looking for more information to win the talent war and acquire talent? 

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Recruiting A Players: How to Find and Develop Topgrading "A Players"

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Rhythm Systems Employee Engagement Resource Center


Chris Cosper


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images