3 Steps Toward a Competitive Advantage in 2016

While 2015 was the year of shifting labor market demographics, 2016 is shaping up to be a battle for the best folks you can find.

Employment figures are up and the economy is continuing to grow but at a slow enough rate that people are still a bit hesitant to job search without guarantees of something better, which means the name of the game in the New Year will be competitive hiring/retention practices.

We may have a smaller pool to pull from and the best resources may already be employed elsewhere; being an attractive place to work will bring in the right kind of potential employees, while having a great environment will make them less likely to leave even when other outside opportunities appear. As HR leaders we are uniquely positioned to inform, impact, and support all of the areas that shape this employment experience.

Step 1: Review Your Mix

A robust compensation and benefits package is your first tool for attracting and retaining talent. Ask these questions and see where you stand:

  • Have you done your annual review of industry-wide compensation for your company?
  • Have you reviewed the trends to make sure that you are offering the right mix of benefits? For many of you, the annual election benefits for 2016 should be complete (or at least in progress) so changes to core benefits are not likely…but adjunct or fringe benefits not built into an annual election period can still be added to sweeten the deal for new hires and to be considered for a mid-year inclusion for your existing employees.
  • Do you have well-defined career/tenure paths in place to make sure that no one remains confined in a role if they would prefer to grow?
  • Do you have CE and training programs in place to continue to support employees in gaining new skills and further developing existing ones?
  • Do you have a flexible work environment that promotes support for all of the different varieties of family needs that can occur?
  • Are you able to support telecommuting and other options for those that need to occasionally work from home?
  • What other aspects of your company culture would be considered “strong”? Are any aspects too strong and potentially a detractor to prospective hires? Are there ways to manage this or should you be looking elsewhere?

Step 2: Address Scarcity

In a previous post, I had touched upon the impact of nursing shortages. While the current employment situation is not exactly what can be considered a talent pool “shortage” at the broader national level, some industries with highly specialized individuals will see more competition next year than usual. Healthcare and professional/technical services had a good 2015 for hiring, which means there are many new hires just getting established in roles and not willing to search elsewhere.

While you should know your hiring landscape, don’t be afraid to extend your searches and get the appropriate approvals to offer relocation packages (if your company doesn’t already offer them) when the right talent comes along.

Step 3: Be Ready To Recruit Hard

Competitive hiring means you will need to find all the right avenues to where talent is located. Every possible method (social media, job fairs, professionals events, interning, etc.) for reaching out should be utilized so, assuming you don’t currently have a dedicated recruiter, be prepared to allocate funds as needed including being open to external talent acquisition services. Also, make sure that you promote any “finder’s fees” for employees that recommend qualified candidates who go on to get hired: good current employees know the culture and can be our best advocates to currently entrenched candidates.

Bonus Step: Be Flexible

I’ve written before about the importance of tracking employee satisfaction and at no time is it more important than when the talent pool is tight. Making sure employees are happy, internal programs are working, and that you have the flexibility to change to meet their needs and recommendations of your people is what will guarantee you won’t be sent searching to fill a newly open role.

Have a Great Year!

As always, an exciting and challenging year ahead is a great opportunity to demonstrate our value as HR leaders to the companies we support.  In the coming months I plan to provide additional insight into employee retention and recruiting as we work towards success. Secure in our knowledge of our people and the tools available, I know we can take some time to enjoy the holidays and come back energized and ready for 2016!

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Eric Magnussen

Eric Magnussen serves as the Vice President of Talent for Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) and is accountable for all aspects of the CTCA Talent function for a 5,500 employee organization. Eric is responsible for talent strategy, attraction and selection, employee development, succession planning, wellness and wellbeing, compensation and benefits. Connect with Eric.

Reader Interactions


  1. Larry Cummings says

    Being an advisor to #talentacqisition vendors I have to ask – where are enterprise ATS’ missing the mark? Features / outcome i.e quality of Hire / user adoption… love your ideas in this blog


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