Posts tagged ‘Benefits’

April 15, 2015

The 3 Steps to Talent Optimization

Grow & Retain

First of all, what is Talent Optimization?

I get asked this question often and usually by individuals who confuse it with the function of talent development or talent management within their organization.

My definition of Talent Optimization is simply the alignment between the business strategy and the plan for your most important organizational asset, your talent.

It involves three critical steps:

  1. Start with your business strategy and assess its impacts on your talent needs.

The business strategy needs to be at the core of talent optimization.  The business strategy has to drive the desired organization talent outcomes.  Every talent initiative your organization develops, sponsors and participates in must be steered directly from where the business wants to go.  Without this alignment back to your business strategy your organization is simply wasting its time, efforts and money for initiatives that aren’t supporting what is important to your organization’s success.  So many companies have invested heavily in talent focused programs and initiatives over the years which look great…..but many times when I ask them why the created the program they aren’t able to align the purpose of their high visibility programs back to the business strategy.  Simply put, these companies have spent lots of money on “window dressings” and failed to focus their investments into ones that will shape their organization’s talent to where it needs to go.

  1. Assess your current talent to effectively understand current skills and capabilities.

Similar to analyzing the value of an organization’s asset, understanding your organization’s own talent and their capabilities is another critical factor within talent optimization.  Companies need to properly gauge their own talent’s skills, abilities, and limitations to effectively understand the gaps between their current talent and the desired skills and abilities needed to successfully achieve their business strategy and goals.  Very few companies are able to do this successfully.  Most companies understand the skills and competencies needed within each role but fail to understand the full capabilities and experiences of the talent working within that role.  Companies recruit and hire simply to fill their roles and fail to recognize the other skills, abilities and experiences of the new hire beyond the requirements the role.  There are so many great tools and technologies available for organizations to gain a better understanding of their talent which is essential to building an effective organization talent strategy and plan.

  1. Move, develop and recruit talent successfully to meet the organizational needs and goals.

An organization’s ability to effectively move, develop and recruit talent is the third critical factor for an organization to optimize talent.  Companies must be self-aware and understand their true capabilities within talent management, talent development and talent acquisition.  An organization who isn’t effective in managing and developing their own talent will need to rely more on hiring new talent to fulfill the requirements of the business strategy.  The organization must understand the limitations of their talent function and make the appropriate decision to either invest quickly in resolving their functional deficiencies or work around them.

Talent optimization starts at the top of the organization and shouldn’t be just another HR exercise which the executive team and the rest of the organization isn’t fully supporting.  Talent optimization is an organizational function – not just an HR function.


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Simon Parkin is the Practice Leader for HR, Recruitment and Talent Management Solutions at The Talent Company –  Simon is recognized as a global thought leader in the acquisition and management of talent and has successfully transformed the Talent function for organizations of all sizes. Simon works closely with clients to build, develop and innovate their Recruitment, Talent and HR functions. He is a former global leader of Recruitment and Talent for a Fortune 100 company. Simon is a featured speaker at a number of HR and Recruitment conferences across North America and an author of many acclaimed articles on innovative Recruitment, Talent and HR trends and best practices. Simon’s full profile can be found at and he can be reached at

December 2, 2014

The Talent Company’s 12 Days of Talent: Day 11 – 11 Effective Total Rewards for Your Organization


11 Effective Total Rewards for Your Organization

At The Talent Company our main focus is advising organizations on how to recruit, manage and motivate talent. It’s a simple goal, but can be challenging to execute.

A key factor in doing just that is to create a robust total rewards plan that is aligned to an organization’s talent strategy. Most organizations understand that the foundation for engaging their workforce is having an effective total rewards strategy in place. This includes compensation encompassing base pay and incentives for each employee. We all want to be fairly compensated for our work; but what constitutes fair compensation is the subject for another article.

Where most organizations fall short is in their understanding of how leveraging other total rewards programs can have an equal or greater influence on talent engagement and satisfaction. In our opinion, the programs listed below are some of the most overlooked yet effective motivators that a company can employ to attract, retain and motivate their talent:


Offering the right mix of health benefits, disability and income replacement insurance, employee assistance plans and retirement savings programs can be a key differentiator when it comes to recruiting and retaining talented individuals.

Employee purchase plans

Offering discounts on your own company’s product or services encourages brand loyalty, deeper product awareness and further engagement with the company’s broader mission.

 Flexible work arrangements

The benefits of flexible work arrangements can be profound. It drives recruitment and retention, improves morale and productivity, enhances cross-training, facilitates knowledge transfer and improves talent and succession planning.

Formal recognition programs

Looking to create closer alignment between HR and business objectives? A recognition program that is well designed and implemented is a good first step. Take the time to clarify the priorities of the business, identify which activities will drive results and encourage those behaviours through continued communication.


When tied to clear team and/or individual goals and awarded in a transparent and fair manner, gifts and prizes can be a fun and effective results driver. In my opinion, however, they need to be used judiciously. This form of acknowledgement can alienate the remaining 80% of employees who do not win prizes often.

Group discount plans

Group discount plans are low cost, and sometimes free to implement but offer a high perceived value. The most common group discount plans include transit, entertainment or gym memberships are also worth considering.

Informal recognition

It’s simple, yet often a sincere thank you goes a long way. Take the time to acknowledge someone’s efforts privately and/or in front of the team.


Space is an under-utilized commodity. The tech companies get it and you may want to consider it too. Ensuring your workplace is ergonomic, creating space for collaboration and/or offering room for socializing and personal activities creates a sense of community and makes for a happier and more productive workforce.

Subsidies for education and/or professional development

If you want top talent, recognize that you and your employees play a role in keeping their knowledge and skills current. Yes, you may lose an employee once they complete a course but then again one can assume they were probably leaving anyways.

Vacation time

Vacation time is very important to your employees. The key is to foster a culture of vacation entitlement and acceptance. Provide for an environment where employees feel comfortable in taking all of their vacation days. After all, vacation time taken does lead to decreased absenteeism and improved productivity.

Wellness programs

The characteristics of wellness programs can vary widely. They can include basic information on health and wellness issues to onsite services like seasonal flu vaccines and health screening. The return on this investment will be high as a healthy workforce is a more productive one.


At The Talent Company we advocate for customized solutions and as with all programs, care and consideration must be given to how each program can best be used in your company. If you are interested in learning more about current trends in total rewards or in enhancing your current total rewards offering, feel free to contact me.


Kathleen Jinkerson is the Director of HR & Talent Solutions with The Talent Company, a human resources consulting firm that works closely with clients to develop, optimize and innovate their Recruitment and Talent practices. Kathleen has over 10 years of experience in partnering with organizations to help them build their talent capacity as well as their HR and leadership teams. Kathleen is very active on both LinkedIn and Twitter

For more information on The Talent Company and our 12 Days of Talent project, visit

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