We’re about to experience a hiring tsunami, says this expert. Instead of focusing on the Great Resignation so much, HR needs to identify ‘impact players’.

While the Great Resignation debate is a valid reason to stop and reevaluate what your organisation is doing to retain your top talent, we need to push the conversation further. 

One area that has been overlooked, or not treated with the same intensity, is the fact that we’re going to see a significant spike in hiring next year.

Yes, it’s well documented that companies will reportedly see an increase in turnover, particularly as we move into the early months of 2022 and see a greater incidence of the ‘new year, new job’ mentality. But running parallel to this are intensified hiring targets.

Over the past 18 months to two years, organisations and leaders across the globe have been reflecting on their organisation’s growth strategies, transformation and strategic plans to ensure their businesses are not only resilient to further disruptions, but also leading the charge in their sector. 

A recent Gartner survey found that 60 per cent of CEOs expect their firm’s revenue to return to 2019 levels by the end of this year, and another 30 per cent expect to bounce back in 2022. Only ten per cent think their recovery efforts will take longer than this. This positive sentiment is supported by the fact that nearly 60 per cent of the nearly 500 CEOs surveyed named ‘growth’ as their top priority for 2022. 

The fifth highest priority for CEOs (see graph below) was ‘workforce’, which indicates that employers understand that their ambitious growth goals need to be paired with the right talent with the right skills.

“The workforce gained the most momentum, with 24 per cent of CEOs naming it among their top three priorities, a 24 per cent increase from last year. This rapid rise is a sign that CEOs acknowledge the toll that 2020 took on people and the role skilled talent will play in enabling organisations to meet their goals,” the report said.

Gartner bar chart showing growth as CEOs top priority for 2022 (56%), followed by technology (36%) and corporate (30%).Source: Gartner

This means leaders, HR and hiring managers are now running two equally important races:

1) To be the first choice for top performers who will drive these new growth areas and projects, and

2) Speeding up the plan to reduce turnover risks with existing staff. 

Find your ‘impact players’

Using the hiring tsunami to your advantage requires identifying impact players – in both prospective and existing talent. New York Times best-selling author and researcher Liz Wiseman, who coined the term impact players, says these are people who are indispensable to your company. 

Alongside an unrivalled work ethic, they bring a mindset and ingenuity that makes them stand out from the pack; they’re often the people who managers call on during challenging times, says Wiseman.

“They find a way to break through and make an impact while others are merely going through the motions,” she writes in her book, Impact Players: how to take the lead, play bigger and multiply your impact.

In such a tight labour market, which is set to become even more competitive, the key is to identify impact players when hiring – and do it quickly. You also need to keep your existing top impact players engaged. 

I would even throw a third challenge into the mix – aim to get the current top impact players in your team to bring their peers, who are most likely also impact players, into your organisation as a peer referral. 

Impact players have a multiplying effect equivalent to three to 30 people in your office, says Wiseman. Yes, you read that correctly. An impact player is a single person who can add the value of three to 30 people employees. You don’t want to lose these people.

As part of her research, Wiseman interviewed 100 top-performing global companies to find the common trait of their impact players. Wiseman found that:

What do impact players want from their employer?

Historically, an employer of choice provides a good salary, a nice office, social activities, incentives, professional development and quirky perks in the office. 

But these are all tactical items. This is what drives an impact player emotionally or psychologically, according to Wiseman: 

How to reduce turnover

Much has been written since the Great Resignation conversation came out after Microsoft revealed its research which showed more than 40 per cent of the global workforce are considering leaving their employers this year. PwC recently localised this number, suggesting that around 38 per cent of Australian workers will look for a new job next year.

The forecasted mass exodus has smart leaders bracing for a seismic shift in the workforce and looking at what they can do to ensure they aren’t losing those impact players who are most likely to be headhunted. (See HRM’s article on offering a counter offer).

“An impact player is a single person who can add the value of three to 30 people employees. You don’t want to lose these people.”

Companies need to focus on the needs of their employees and find a way to drive their growth ambitions without overstretching already fatigued employees.

One way to do this is to talk often and talk early. Have regular conversations with your team and ensure you are listening. A grumble about a project today could become a major stress point in a few weeks if it’s not addressed in the here and now.

Place even further importance on employee wellbeing. A large number of the surveys we run for our clients show a direct correlation between employee wellbeing and attrition risks. 

While a number of data points are showing attrition risks as low at present, what I’m seeing when I dig deeper is a vast difference when the question is posed in two different ways. 

It is important to note that an intent to stay can be measured in two ways: ‘I rarely think about looking for another role’ or ‘I intend to keep working for Organisation XYZ for 1 year, 2,3 etc.’ 

When people answer employee surveys, many are thinking about their feelings right there and then – but when you dig deeper on their longer term plans, a different picture emerges.

I recently surveyed a government body which had a 20 per cent attrition risk, including people who were ‘on the fence’ about whether they intended to stay for more than one year, or a six per cent definite attrition risk. The split in the information provides the correct data for the leaders and HR team to map out plans for now and for later. 

If organisations take this seriously and make a genuine effort to find out what their team members need to retain them, this period of time could become both the Great Retention and the Great Attraction when riding the Hiring Tsunami. 

By seeing this as an opportunity, a serious one at that, organisations could gain a head start in the race to attract, develop and retain the impact players they need to lead those transformational and strategy plans and projects.

Clare McCartin is the Managing Partner, Search & Advisory at Davidson Search & Advisory team  and is a corporate member of IPAA, where she sits on its people & culture committee. She is also a National Trustee of CEDA, a Member of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce and actively involved with LG Pro, MAV, IPWEA and Procurement Australia. She has a completed a Bachelor of Behavioural Science, a Post Graduate Diploma in HR and a Masters of Commerce, majoring in HR and Employee Relations.

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