bond or bye-bye: reimagine the way you attract and retain the most in-demand skilled talent.

January 17, 2024 Francesca Campalani

how to attract and retain the most in-demand skilled talent.

4 ways to bond with external and internal talent

| 6 min read |

Since the hiring frenzy of 2022, hiring trends have normalized, as you can see from our latest Global In-demand Skills research, but the need for specialized and high-skill talent remains above pre-pandemic levels and historically elevated.

People who possess the most advanced technical skills — especially within the specialties of data science, AI and cloud — will be highly sought after for the foreseeable future, especially in the green economy.

Demand for project management, finance and customer service professionals has not fallen off the radar as well. We still desperately need people with these skills despite the prospect of automation and AI advancements.

How can your organization focus on attracting, motivating and retaining in-demand talent (and everyone else) to deliver our most impactful and critically needed work?

Organizations must bond with people or will have to be ready to see them go. They will either simply never join the company, or, even worse and more costly, they may join and leave as soon as they can. In the worst case scenario, they will join and hide — becoming disengaged, invisible, ineffective.

what does it mean to bond?

Using the word "bond" is very intentional. Organizations really need bonding and belonging; talent attraction and engagement are not enough anymore. We cannot do things TO people; we need to do things WITH people.

Bonding does, in fact, mean prioritizing a strong connection with your people — even before you get to work together, even if you never get to work together. You must still build a relationship with talent, a sense of mutual understanding, trust and support.

Focus on creating emotional investment and a deep sense of belonging. It's more than just a surface-level relationship; it’s not just advertising or using consumer marketing techniques in the talent arena. It's adding value to other humans, helping them, being a true partner for them. It's about impressing a lasting and significant memory in each other.

When people join your company, the bond must then develop deeper through an honest and graceful experience, sharing and rewarding successes, solving challenges together within a consistent demonstration of respect and appreciation. This kind of bond fosters a positive, engaging reality and often leads to higher levels of self-fulfillment, motivation and retention. Hence, I call this “bonding and belonging.”

if you do not bond, what is the alternative?

You break-up. You bereave. You say your goodbyes. It’s bond or bye-bye. Talent will overlook, ignore or leave you. You will be passed over in favor of another company, leaving you feeling sidelined and asking: Why do people dislike us? Why are we not invited to the talent party?

Well, the reason is simple: They have alternatives because everyone wants them. And this is good. We have to cheer for people. We are all people, from the CEO to most junior members of the team.

You, instead, did not behave as a human. You did not bond. There is no memory, no connection, no emotions, no experience, no reward to look forward to. No common purpose. No career dreams to achieve. No safety. Nothing to achieve together. You have been bypassed. You have been abandoned. You are on a break.

what does talent bonding look like?

Regardless of who your company is, in its unique ways, there are four things you can do to bond with external and internal talent. Call it employer branding, call it relationship branding, call it whatever you want, as long as it creates real deep connections.

01. Identify your most impactful work and start there — then expand.

Try not to boil the ocean; focus first on the core work that makes the biggest impact. This will ensure you start and bond with the people who you desperately need the most. That does not mean treating everyone else badly. It just means piloting your most innovative solutions where it helps the business the most, and then extending the outcomes to all.

02. Bet on human potential, beyond learned skills and knowledge.

Believe in people, and they will believe in you. Decode the inherent and learned skills and the motivations that get people to make an impact. Then bet on not-ready-yet talent, on transferable inherent and learned skills. Focus on satisfying that deeper motivation that makes those specific talent segments tick and vibe and feel joy.

Make sure you build a bond on all the human levels, not just on a C.V. and a list of requirements that do not exist in the wild. Look at people emotionally and intellectually, not just as wanting a salary (which is super important, but not the only factor here).

Create very tailored rewards packages, identify their core motivations and bond on those by finding a solution together. Make your job titles clear and strong, giving people the dignity of their expertise and value. Basically behave as a peer, but take your responsibility to your colleagues (potential, current and past) very seriously.

Need a few ideas to expand your pools by leveraging human potential? Invest in early talent and develop them. Give chances to people who do not tick all the boxes. Go and search for part-time people and offer part-time working hours with full impact!

Explore different countries with full remote work. Expand your search to different industries. Focus on inherent skills — the ones that are essential to certain work beyond the knowledge people have. Identify the learned skills that are transferable to other jobs, and then spend a bit of time coaching the change. Understand what can be transferred to AI and automation.

Find human solutions to a human issue. As your people's ally, understand their needs and care for their wants. Be there to amplify their voices, empowering their choices.

See them as they are, and as they could be — today and tomorrow. See them for who they are, and for who they want to be — whatever their gender, identity, personality, ethnicity. Stand for their potential and aspirations. They will stand for you in return.

> read here for more details on our human potential model

03. Behave as grown-ups. Build adult-adult bonds that are everlasting.

Build an end-to-end people experience to make and keep genuine promises to talent. Remember high-demand talent can go as fast as they arrive. They can hide as quickly as they appear. They really have voices, and choices — and this is good. It’s the start of a genuine two-way relationship. It is a grown-up bonding that opens the door on real organizational impact.

So make sure you are building connections with the people that reject you, the people you reject, the people who accept the offer and never join. Build connections with the people who join, the people who leave and the people who stay.

Keep your promises. Surprise your people with better or more than you promised. Be honest when things go bad. Bonding is not a rose-tinted world. It is building (and evolving) dynamic, responsible and graceful relationships with the people who drive your business.

04. Show that you still care about people, not just their high-demand skills.

Different professional communities — including everyone, not just highly skilled professionals — need different experiences and have their own unique range of goals and dreams. Help them all. Care for them all. Be transparent and honest with them all.

The ideas included here can help secure the talent you need today, but also build a brand and reputation that will help you bond with the right people in the long-term, no matter what the future holds. And the future, whether you influence it or not, is coming anyhow.

Learn more about today’s top high-demand skill clusters. Access the latest Global in-demand skills research.

About the Author

Francesca Campalani

As the global head of Innovation and eXperience within Talent Advisory and Randstad Enterprise, Francesca Campalani is a creative thought leader with more than 25 years of experience in innovation, branding, talent and customer experience, human potential and culture.

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