What is talent management?

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4 mins, 2 secs read time

Consider every touchpoint that a candidate has with your company, from their initial application and interview process to receiving an offer, going through onboarding and being promoted. Taking this comprehensive view of employee experience is known as talent management. Forward-thinking companies are now developing comprehensive talent management strategies that encompass the entire employee lifecycle. Why does it make sense to take this approach and how can you go about it? We caught up with Greenhouse’s Director of Talent Acquisition Jacqui Maguire to explore these questions.

Defining talent management

The term “talent management” generally refers to a holistic view of every aspect of the employee experience. This can include:

  • The application and interview experience
  • New hire onboarding
  • Employee interactions with their managers, including performance management and goal-setting
  • Continued growth and development, including training, career paths and promotions

At Greenhouse, Jacqui says, talent management involves a combination of talent acquisition and business partnering: “It’s thinking about talent holistically. It’s attracting, retaining and growing talent, so that Greenhouse can be a truly great place to work.”

Why is it important to invest in talent management?

Why invest in talent management? It just makes good business sense. Jacqui explains, “If you think about the competitive market only through the lens of hiring, and not through the lens of retention and optimization of employee lifetime, it's really shortsighted. You can end up investing too much in talent acquisition because you’re not retaining great employees.”

Take average employee tenure as an example. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median number of years employees had been with their current employer in 2018 was 4.2. And that number is even smaller for younger employees – those aged 25 to 34 only stay with their employers for an average of 2.8 years.

The costs of replacing employees add up quickly. A Work Institute report estimates it costs 33% of an employee’s salary to hire a replacement, plus the indirect costs of knowledge loss, time spent finding a replacement and the time it takes new hires to fully ramp up.

The same report concludes that 75% of the causes of employee turnover are preventable. The top three reasons survey respondents gave for leaving their jobs were career development, work/life balance and managers’ behavior. Younger workers are especially prioritizing jobs where they’ll have opportunities to learn and grow: 91% of Gen Z employees (those born roughly between 1995 and 2010) view professional development and employee engagement as leading factors when they’re picking a company to work for.

Good talent management supports the whole employee lifecycle, including retention. Anybody can buy a ping-pong table, but people stay at an organization because they have thoughtful career ladders and managers who care about them being engaged in their work.
– Jacqui Maguire, Director of Talent Acquisition at Greenhouse

How to prioritize talent management

At this point, you might be wondering what you can do to take this holistic view of talent management at your company. Here are a few tactics Jacqui recommends.

Have regular check-ins with employees through engagement surveys

“You don’t know what’s going to keep employees engaged unless you ask,” says Jacqui. Regular engagement surveys help you take the pulse of employee sentiment and identify areas for improvement. Jacqui notes that when your company is small, these check-ins might be more casual or take place in person, but having a formal process in place becomes increasingly important as you grow.

Create clear ownership and accountability for survey results

Setting up and running engagement surveys is just the first step. When you’re making the commitment to run these surveys, Jacqui says it’s just as important to create clear ownership and accountability for the results. For example, your people team may run the survey and share the results, but other department or team leaders will be responsible for creating action plans based on what they learn.

Forge strong relationships with your people team

Jacqui believes fostering strong relationships between all areas of your people department is a critical step for creating a comprehensive talent management strategy. The various teams in the people department align more closely with different parts of the employee lifecycle, so strong collaboration is essential to optimizing the whole employee lifecycle. She recommends holding regular cross-functional meetings so everyone can stay up to date on talent issues that may be impacting the company, such as upcoming promotions or reorganizations.

Like many of the best practices in talent, creating a comprehensive talent management strategy is an ongoing process rather than a destination. If you’d like to explore more ways of incorporating talent management into your work, check out 9 steps for a successful talent management strategy.

What is talent management? Discover the key elements of talent management, why it matters and how to prioritize it at your company.

Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno

is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.