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IDC Human Resource Forum, Talent Management Attract Develop and Retain

September 18, 2007

Event: IDC Human Resource Forum, Talent Management: Attract Develop and Retain

When: September 17, 2007

Where: Millennium Broadway Hotel, New York

What: HR executives, business line managers, consultants and vendors come together to discuss their challenges with attracting and retaining talent, particularly as many begin to feel the talent shortage as the baby boomers begin to retire. Speakers discussed how it’s not just salaries and bonuses that attract and keep good people, and provided examples of innovative ways that their companies are creating corporate cultures and benefits programs that appeal to employees.

Conference info: www.idc.com.

Weeding out the jerks: A big piece of effective talent management is avoiding hiring managers and employees who are jerks, said Janis Meyer, partner and general counsel at the international law firm of Dewey Ballantine, in a panel discussion titled "Diverse Strategies for Effective Talent Management."

"We want to make sure that the person we hire isn’t going to be a yeller," she said.

To address this, Dewey Ballantine makes prospects go through multiple interviews so the interviewers can each assess the candidate. While the approach isn’t bulletproof, it seems to work well, she says.

Another benefit of the multiple-interview process is it allows interviewers to see if the candidate is losing momentum in the third or fourth interview, said Les Russell, vice president of human resources at the Paradies Shops, an Atlanta-based airport retailer, who spoke on the same panel.

"You want people who are getting more excited to come to work with you, not annoyed by the next interview," he said.

Panelists also said they often troll the Internet, particularly social networking sites like MySpace, to make sure there is nothing untoward about their prospects.

Sometimes a simple e-mail address can be a telling sign, Russell said. "We had one candidate whose e-mail was ‘gangsta69,’ " he said. Needless to say, that person wasn’t invited for an interview.

Some turnover is good: While a number of speakers discussed their challenges with reducing turnover, Russell said he actually likes a little turnover.

When he arrived at the Paradies Shops, turnover among management was in the single digits, which he thought was too low, noting that some of those managers had gotten stale.

"Turnover is good to make sure that new ideas are making it into the organization," he said. Today’s turnover among managers at the company is closer to 10 percent.

Benefit of giving: In her presentation, "Benefits Strategies That Help You Acquire, Retain and Manage Talent," Tiffany McClellan, health and welfare product manager at ADP, noted a unique benefit at one of her clients could be particularly useful at companies where employees are affected by the recent subprime mortgage fallout.

The company has an employee fund, and every employee can automatically deduct a percentage of their payroll into the fund. If employees fall on hard times or have an emergency, they can apply for a donation from the fund. Their application must be approved by a board of employees, but overall, employees love having the potential safety net, McClellan said.

—Jessica Marquez