How to compete for talent in today’s knowledge economy

In today’s knowledge economy, the value of employees has increased exponentially. The talent that exists in a company has become a key differentiator in a market in which products or services can be easily replicated. Midsize companies, however, often lack the resources to effectively manage the talent acquisition and retention process, putting them at a competitive disadvantage.

“Human capital is more important today than capital equipment,” says Joe Cole, executive vice president of business strategy at Sequent. “A company’s greatest asset is its people. The companies that realize that are the more successful in this new economy.”

Smart Business spoke with Cole about competing for talent in the knowledge economy.

How can midsize companies compete for talented employees?

Many times companies attract talent by developing or fostering a culture in the organization that people can relate to at an emotional level. Many midsize companies, however, don’t have the resources to drive this employee experience. They compensate by harnessing their managerial assets, specifically the time and attention of their executives, for the business of hiring and on-boarding employees.

When the time and attention of management is diverted from their company’s core products and services, that company is now compromised — it’s not functioning at its highest level because management’s attention is a finite resource. Often through business process outsourcing — outsourcing non-core functions — leadership regains the time to focus on the business by leveraging the outsourced partner’s expertise and its technological infrastructure.

How does business process outsourcing translate to improved employee retention?

Look at it from the perspective of an employee who has decided to join a company. The new employee shows up for his or her first day and the first thing he or she realizes is the company is not ready. He or she has paperwork to fill out, the office may not be set up, there’s no one to sit and explain his or her benefits package. Is that the experience new employees should have?

Employers want their new hire to come to the office excited, and that excitement can be sustained if you show them you’ve anticipated their arrival and can manage the basic functions of on-boarding. Otherwise, you risk early disengagement, doubt and possibly the employee’s early exit.

An outsource partner choreographs on-boarding with technology that makes it easy to fill out the necessary paperwork with a few keystrokes because the information generated from the interview can be used to populated the necessary forms for them. Through these systems, companies can even have a benefits advocate talk to the new employee about benefits, or deliver a personalized message from the CEO welcoming him or her to the company.

First impressions are very important. It’s essentially a company making a deposit in an employee’s emotional piggy bank, so to speak. It builds loyalty, gives a good impression of the culture and a sense that they’re a part of a team.

How can companies ensure employees maintain a high level of engagement?

A big part of the employee experience is having someone who advocates on their behalf. Having someone at the employees’ reach to answer questions about payroll, their 401(k) and medical coverage can ease anxiety and keep employees focused on their role and productivity.

Health insurance is increasingly complex and expensive. Employees want to maximize their coverage, but that takes education and support. Having an employee advocate helps bridge the gap between the insurer and employer, and can go a long way toward making an employee think twice about leaving the company.

Business process outsourcing is widely embraced by midsize companies. It can cost less than one employee’s annual salary, but offers companies the resources, technology, people and processes of a department.

If your employees are not the recipients of a great employment experience or feel as if they’re not part of a team, they may find what they’re looking for with your competitors. An outsource partnership can provide the resources you need to attract and retain the best and brightest, and align employees with organizational goals.

Insights HR Outsourcing is brought to you by Sequent