Learning to engage, empower and co-create with customers is the manta of the new economy. We talk about the need to create platforms not products and the 3C’s of customer satisfaction —  Customization, Connection and Collaboration. This mindset is finding its way into talent with CMOs collaborating with CHROs to find new and innovative ways to reimagine their employees as customers.

So why not co-create your talent as you would co-create with your customers? Strategically it makes sense. The Millennials and Digital Natives don’t stick around. Job hopping is the new normal. The gig economy is on the rise. Turnover is expected. Loyalty isn’t a guarantee. In a world where everyone has an opinion, everyone is a reviewer, everyone gets a say, people value and expect transparency. People are also more tech-savvy, connected and mobile than ever before. With such dynamics in play, co-creating talent is a radical and disruptive idea. Its execution can be sensitive and risky, yet also full of possibilities and potential.

If leaders are able to embrace the spirit of collaboration and an open-source economy, they adopt a mindset to create, develop and share talent with their competitors, their industry and the world. Doing so builds a strong, long-term and sustainable global talent pipeline. It might sound ambitious, even audacious, but organizations can start small. We believe it begins with the following four strategies:

1. When it’s Time, Let Go!

Talent hoarding is not uncommon. Leaders and HR feel the need and pressure to retain and develop talent. After all it’s in the job description! Yet, we have all experienced a time when we knew it was in the best interest of a talented employee to let them leave. Often times however, the organization ends up either offering a more senior or bigger role which the person may not be ready for, or giving them different incentives to hold on to them because the position which the talented employee is looking for is not available yet. These cases almost always ended badly. The employees (and those around them) get frustrated, and they eventually figure out the kind of experience and exposure they want and leave.

Let’s be transparent and honest. When it’s time, let your people go and spread their wings. And when it’s time, invite and welcome them back.

2. Open-Source Career Planning

We are living and working longer in a world that is more connected and accessible than ever before. Employees still plan for long-term career development, though that doesn’t necessarily mean with the same company, industry or country. We suggest leaders reflect upon and ask themselves following questions about their career development process with employees:

a) Do you genuinely understand the career aspirations of your talent, and help them develop an authentic development plan based on their realistic career with the organization, which may only be for 1 to 2 years?

b) Do you share with your talent job opportunities outside of your team and the broader organization?

c) Are you transparent with your talent, letting them know that the role to which they are aspiring — which is best suited for their growth and development — won’t be vacant in another year or even longer?

d) Are you authentic with your talent when it’s in their best interest, to advise that they may be better off to apply for a similar role with another company?

If leaders genuinely care about their people, their career development and personal growth, they should be constantly asking these questions.

3. Boomerang Re-recruiting

While HR has successfully adopted a lot of cool gizmos from the Digital World like talent crowdsourcing and personalized on-boarding apps, there are ideas and practices for re-recruiting that we can learn from some of the oldest academic institutions.

From the Ivy Leagues, and across the ocean to the ‘Ancient’ universities, these institutions have long nurtured their relationships with alumni. They implement strategies and create dedicated functions to work with both internal and external constituencies, offering different programs to engage and support their global network of alumni throughout their lives. Quite apart from donations, universities also understand their pool of alumni is a fertile source of talent. Alumni are often invited to serve as board members and recruited as faculty members.

In management consultancy and professional services, ‘the talent’ often become future clients. These organizations have long recognized and adopted alumni methodologies. Bain & Co, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and McKinsey have built formal programs and implemented successful re-recruiting boomerang strategies. Their alumni can get early, exclusive access to the latest thoughtware and insights, and have access to continued career development as well as job opportunities. Booz Allen Hamilton successfully rehire a significant number of alumni via their ‘Comeback Kids’ program.

Head of Talent Management typically focuses on creating and developing talent, while Head of Recruitment focuses on attracting and sourcing talent. The two roles often work in silos. In the world of crossover collaboration, it’s time to give the talent and resourcing departments a new spin and create a new role (Head of Talent Co-creation?) — that works across different HR and business functions including communications, public relations and marketing as well as with external stakeholders.

4. Collaborate with the Competition

Today’s tight talent market presents a paradox — the more companies are looking to grow, the more talent availability shrinks. A new approach to sourcing talent is definitely needed. Organizations that cooperate with their competitors have an opportunity to create an effective talent ecosystem in which talent has the opportunity to develop and thrive in an agile environment. ‘Co-opetition’, or simultaneous competition and cooperation, is a growing trend that could be mutually beneficial and result in higher potential benefits for both companies. The real conundrum is how to develop a talent pool that can be shared, and drawn upon as needed, by multiple companies to retain the best talent for the amount of time they are needed. Critical to the success of this approach is the way in which collaboration occurs. Short-term assignments, structured arrangements, special projects, and job shadowing programs are all ways in which organizations can enable their talent to move seamlessly from one company to another and back again as needed. Market conditions are certainly ripe for organizations to strategize and develop a proof of concept of this model in a formalized way.

We believe a big part of talent management is talent mobility, rather than talent stability. In the new economy, rehire rate will be a more relevant and important metric than attrition rate and job tenure

Purpose defines what you want to create, and value defines how you will create it’. What truly differentiates a company and creates sustainable a quality talent pipeline is when leaders stay open-minded and agile, and adopt a different mindset. Talent co-creation is like creating a wonderful hotel or Airbnb experience. We don’t necessarily expect our guests to stay for very long time but we want to make sure they have a great experience, spread the good word and come back again.

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