Where do you see your talent in five years time?

Competition for talent is intensifying once again. There are plenty of signs that the latest round of ‘war on talent’ is underway. Top performers clearly have the most employment opportunities and therefore can pose the biggest flight risk.

Meanwhile, HR is also faced with the challenge of adapting to the greater career mobility that exists among the newer generations in the workforce who are rapidly rejecting the mantra of 'a job for life'.

While "Where do you see yourself in five years time?" continues to remain a valid question for interviewees, the pertinent question facing HR and organisations today is "Where do you see your talent in five years time?"

The problem is that current talent management practices just aren't working. Since McKinsey and Company first declared the War for Talent, 15 years ago not a great deal of progress has been made even though prolonged periods of intense competition for talent have continued to be a defining characteristic of the global workplace.

So what bold actions should we be taking today to protect the future prosperity of our organisations? Clearly, HR needs to deploy an armoury of more sophisticated talent management weapons, but of greater importance is the need for a change in mindset.

For an organisation to grow and be successful, you need to have a talent mindset that is ingrained throughout the business from the top down. For some HR leaders this will mean a complete change in mindset from cost control and reduction and process efficiency to focusing on acquiring, developing, aligning and assessing talent which is becoming increasingly scarce.

Also important is having a deeper understanding of what motivates individuals in the workplace. Much in the same way we buy into consumer brands in our everyday lives, employees are looking for an emotional connection and engagement with their employers. Key questions HR should be asking today is why would anyone want to work for my organisation and why should they stay?

Retention starts at the very top of the organisation and extends through every level of management. The quality of leadership skills makes the all important difference between a committed employee focused on personal and organisational goals, and one who is endlessly searching elsewhere for the next big career opportunity. Investment in training to ensure managers have the necessary leadership and communications skills to support and develop their teams can make a real difference here.

It is also essential that talent management is underpinned by a strong understanding of the desires and needs of the different demographics in the workplace. Currently there are four generations working side by side (the Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y) and how these different generations address the world of work can have a major effect on everything from recruitment and team building to employee productivity and the bottom line. The near future will bring even greater challenges with Generation Z entering the workforce while the Boomers increasingly leave the workplace along with the last of the Traditionalists - taking vital skills with them.

Organisations are becoming more diverse particularly as globalisation increases and it is clear that a one sized approach to people management, reward and development won't work.

You need different solutions for the differing segments of your workforce and you need to think about the individual not the job, or the level or the length of service.

Which individuals have the potential to create disproportionate value for your organisation?

What skills do you need now and in five or ten years' time? What steps you can take now in order to attract, nurture and retain people with these skills? Sometimes it is worth stretching the limits of talent management to attract or retain those individuals that are really worth fighting for - the ones who have critical skills that are going to make a tangible difference to your business and your competitive edge.

The War for Talent will continue to rage on and time has come for a much more targeted approach to talent management and succession planning.

Rob Caul (pictured) is CEO at learning and talent services provider Kallidus