When it comes to talent mining, the game has changed.
The hiring concept is no longer “We have a job, so let’s fill it.” Instead, hiring/talent acquisition—whether from within or via external pipelines—is a continuous proposition.
“The amount of time and resources that go into identifying, screening, interviewing and hiring a new employee is significant,” says Ashutosh Garg, CEO and co-founder of Eightfold.ai, a “talent intelligence” platform provider in Mountain View, Calif. “Companies are finding that the expense and time required to hire an employee is rising each quarter, while each employee is likely to quit the job in an ever-shorter period of time.”
To counteract these challenges in a highly competitive talent market, Garg says, employers must think harder about how to create competitive advantages for their own talent processes, so that they can begin to bend the cost and time-to-hire curves backward.
“Simply doing more of the same tactics will not create different results,” he says.
The folks at Bank of America are keenly aware that the old ways no longer work, according to Christie Gragnani-Woods, the company’s head of talent acquisition for consumer and small business and wealth management. In the recent past, the company has begun programs to adjust to today’s talent realities.
“Job candidates with strong skill sets are in high demand and unemployment is low, meaning employees have more choices today,” Gragnani-Woods says. “That’s why we’re focused on being a great place to work and investing in our people.”
BoA, based in Charlotte, N.C., created The Academy at Bank of America, an employee-development organization charged with onboarding and skill development of the 100,000 or so employees across its consumer, small business, Merrill and private banking segments.
John Jordan, the BoA managing director who heads the effort, says that, in terms of a talent pipeline, the BoA Academy has significantly increased internal hiring and average tenure.
“We recognize how important it is for our employees to develop and progress in their careers,” he explains. “So we offer learning and development programs that ensure all teammates have access to the resources they need to advance their careers with us.” This includes a Career Path Tool that helps teammates visualize and explore career paths and future roles, as well as the steps needed to get there.
The Academy supports the career development of more than 66,000 consumer and small business teammates, as BoA dubs it employees. It currently offers 65 different programs across four levels of programming—new-to-role, in-role development, mastery and leadership development. The Academy has supported more 27,000 career advancements within the last three years, according to Jordan.
Additionally, in 2018, BoA launched its Pathways Program, a five-year commitment to hire 10,000 people from low- to moderate-income communities into roles within consumer and small business. BoA HR leaders say the program provides a sustainable source of talent for jobs in high demand.
“Through our Pathways career program, we partner with external organizations to help connect us to candidates with strong potential,” Gragnani-Woods says. “This investment in nonprofit partners’ workforce-development programs builds skills among qualified candidates and prepares them for careers in the financial-services industry.”
Another example of meeting continuous talent needs is BoA’s six-month-old Year-Up Intern Program, which is offered twice a year to low- and moderate-income adults and focuses on skills development with the potential for participants to become full-time employees at Bank of America.
“Not only are we finding talented interns through the program, we’re also getting referrals from our nonprofit partners,” she says. “So far, we’ve gotten nearly 900 referrals and we’re continuing to work with our partners to find more great talent.”
Gragnani-Woods says BoA is seeing company-wide results from its efforts.
“Pathways not only provides a sustainable source of talent for jobs in high demand, it also helps Bank of America represent the diverse communities we serve and creates a pipeline of diverse talent,” she says, noting that, to date, BoA has already made more than 7,600 Pathways hires, 76% of its 2022 goal.
Savers Looks to Build Brand, Keep Turnover Low
Savers, a for-profit, global thrift retailer, headquartered in Bellevue, Wash., offers high-quality, gently used clothing, accessories and household goods. Today, it works with San Mateo, Calif.-based Jobvite, a recruiting solution, to meet its continuous talent-mining challenges—from recruitment marketing to enhancing the hiring experience to new-hire engagement.
According to Lea Bedford, people services center manager at Savers, Jobvite helps her company engage candidates with meaningful experiences “at the right time, in the right way, from first look to first day.” In its work with Savers, Jobvite infuses automation and intelligence into the current expanded recruiting cycle to increase the speed, quality and cost-effectiveness of talent acquisition, she says.
Within a week of launching Jobvite, in fact, Savers received around 25,000 applicants, allowing the company to take its pick of top talent. Also, Savers has seen a serious impact on its applicant pool, enabling Jobvite to do the heavy lifting while empowering its employees to focus on the task at hand.
“Employment branding is more important than ever,” Bedford notes. “In previous markets, pay was the key factor—today’s workers aren’t looking for just pay, but also a holistic employment experience that values their contribution on a personal and professional level.”
She says this means more work-life-balance conversations, a focus on innovative cultures and, with that, a lower risk of turnover.
“If employees do not feel your company meets these values, they will leave—and the time and expense of replacing them hurts,” she says, adding that employers need to be thoughtful and thorough with their interview questions.
“Competency is always important but cultural fit has achieved nearly the same level of importance,” she says, noting that opportunities to differentiate through creative fringe benefits, workplace-environment factors and a flexible work schedule are more abundant than before. But, she notes, to take advantage of those opportunities, it’s essential to stay connected to the market changes and the thoughts and feelings of the workforce.
“We continuously work to define and socialize our employment brand and also deploy a high level of employee-engagement study and analysis to learn what we want, what we need and how we can meet the needs and desires of our target employee,” Bedford says.
Scott Jensen, director of the Department of Labor and Training for the state of Rhode Island, manages the state’s Real Jobs Rhode Island program, which offers workforce-development strategy to employers. Primarily, Real Jobs Rhode Island convenes employers and actively listens to the workforce/talent challenges they’re experiencing.
Next, with the employers in the lead, Real Jobs Rhode Island offers, among other strategies, its expertise about how to manage a relationship with a community college, for example, or how to stitch together an effective hiring strategy, or how a nonprofit organization can reach more deeply into a community to build talent pipelines, Jensen says.
“What we are seeing more and more is just disruption in the economy,” he explains. “That means it is really less about what hard specific skills are needed to fill a predetermined role, and more about a fit of personality and mission and interest that aligns with an employer.
“This way,” he adds, “the person eventually hired is going to add value and be more of a long-term hire; it looks much more like a conversation than old-fashioned recruitment.”