Elevating the Talent Journey: A Comprehensive Approach

BY Mary Pieper | November 10, 2023

A few years ago, Nemours Children's Health learned through the organization's employee feedback process that some team members wished their benefits package included coverage for fertility treatments. 

Realizing the irony of a pediatric organization not offering this benefit, Nemours’ leaders added it. 

“One of our employees was saying she had worked for us for seven years, and she could not conceive and she couldn’t afford the treatment. But with the treatment, she now has a child,” said Peter Adebi, chief HR officer for Nemours, during a panel session at From Day One’s Philadelphia conference.

That’s just one of the examples Adebi and the other four panelists gave to illustrate how employers can attract and keep outstanding talent.

How to Attract Job Applicants

Heather Hoffman, chief operating officer of Recruit Rooster, said many employers pay special attention to the homepage of their career website, posting photos, videos, and other content that shows what it is like to work there.

However, “Only about 50% of job seekers land on your homepage,” she said. “The other 50% are typically landing on your job description page.”

Hoffman recommends that organizations redo their job description pages to “Share a little bit more about yourself as an employer.” She said a good way to do this is to post short videos on topics such as what it’s like to work in that position within the company.

One way to entice job seekers is to simplify the application process, according to Krista Gathercole, vice president of talent acquisition for Burlington Stores.

“No one really wants to go through that application process,” she said. “It’s formal, it’s arduous, it’s not fun.”

Using social media effectively is another key to attracting potential applicants, according to Gathercole. She said Burlington Stores started a program called Boost, in which company leaders asked 200 highly engaged associates to post curated content to their social media networks to spread the word about why the company is a great place to work.

A significant current conversation regarding work is whether job applicants need a college education, which often requires them to take out loans they struggle to repay.

“I would suggest that experience trumps having a degree requirement on the job posting or the job description,” Adebi said.

The panel titled “Improving the Talent Pipeline, From End to End,” was moderated by Lizzy McLellan Ravitch, workplace reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

For example, one of Nemour’s clinics had difficulty filling an office manager opening because the organization required applicants to have a college degree. Nemour decided to waive that mandate since it wasn’t a regulatory requirement. As a result, the clinic hired an office manager who didn’t have a degree but brought eight years of relevant experience to the role.

Lisa Santin, chief human resources officer for Graham Packaging, said the company partners with local high schools and technical schools as part of its recruitment efforts.

Graham invites high school students to come to Graham’s plants and learn what working there is like. If the students are interested, they go through the interview process and receive a sign-on bonus if they join the company. And if these new employees decide to pursue education beyond high school, Graham provides tuition reimbursement.

After graduating from a two-year tech school, those who join Graham receive a stipend of up to $5,000 a year for three years to help them pay off their student loans because “Technical schools aren’t cheap,” Santin said.

Keeping the Talent You Already Have

Attracting new workers is just one end of the talent pipeline. The other is helping those already employed by an organization recognize their skills and how to build on them, according to Carla Garcia Williams, senior director of people analytics consulting for Visier. Managers play a crucial role here, she says.

“Most people stay with or leave their organization because of the relationship they have with their manager,” Garcia Williams said. Therefore, it’s essential to “provide those managers with the right pieces of information to be able to have better conversations with those employees that might be most at risk of leaving.”

According to Garcia Williams, an employee might be ready to bolt if the company hasn't promoted them in a long time. She recommends that leaders and managers consider what career opportunities are available within the organization.

“There might not always be an opportunity to move up, but being able to provide some of the skill set to be able to broaden their abilities, especially among some of the professional workers, we do see that’s a real differentiator in those organizations that are able to retain talent over time,” she said.

The big buzzword these days in HR is culture, says Santin. It may be a cliché, but it can make a difference in retaining team members.

However, “When we say culture, a lot of times people say, ‘Oh, everybody has to stand together and be nice to one another and sing together,’” Santin said. “And that’s not what we mean. What we mean is, the examples that everybody just offered here are creating a way for people to feel special within your organization, so they want to go the extra mile and deliver for you. It’s about creating a culture of performance. You’re treating people like human beings and connecting with them on an emotional level, while getting the performance and excellence out of them.”

Mary Pieper is a freelance reporter based in Mason City, Iowa. 


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Wanly Chen | December 07, 2023

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Carrie Snider | December 07, 2023

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Part of this comes from recognizing past patterns, such as talent hoarding among departments and from there, developing benchmarks to reinforce accountability, Uribes says.This keeps efforts from being performative, what moderator Elizabeth Hernandez, reporter at The Denver Post, called a “one-off brown bag lunch” meeting so that the leadership team can say that they tried. “Every organization in the company has goals around career mobility and career growth, and we do monitor,” Uribes said. “Very quickly, we were able to ensure that almost 25% of our requisitions are filled with internal talent.”That mindset shift can also mean seeing internal mobility as not just tied to roles, but also to responsibilities and projects, Warren says, which are all “different ways to get people invested” and can keep the work fresh and exciting for employees. Managers are encouraged to develop gigs that can help employees build skills and try out new projects, while simultaneously ticking the boxes of major tasks needed to move the company forward.Leaders should set the standard for workplace pride, Mafe says, by having a system in place to celebrate employees who take on new roles or complete training programs. And it’s also about developing a bit of tolerance for risk, “to be willing to take the risk of investing in a B player, or letting an A player go in order to continue to further their career,” David said, and focus on developing talent with the hope that it will engender company loyalty.Ultimately, employee mobility and engagement should be the natural result of an overall focus on human resources development. “The right managers shouldn't be project managers, they should be people developers and enablers allowing folks to do what they do best,” Warren said. Uribes emphasizes the need to look at career development holistically rather than in terms of lines on a resume. “We believe in the lattice,” Uribes said. “Career growth isn’t always upward mobility.” Too often, David cautions, senior leadership is focused on the numbers, the achievements, and the deadlines. That shortsightedness can cause employees to get frustrated and leave. “Your primary job is to develop people,’ David said. “If you do that, the numbers will take care of themselves.”Katie Chambers is a freelance writer and award-winning communications executive with a lifelong commitment to supporting artists and advocating for inclusion. Her work has been seen in HuffPost, Honeysuckle Magazine, and several printed essay collections, among others, and she has appeared on Cheddar News, iWomanTV, and CBS New York.

Katie Chambers | November 27, 2023