“Research has repeatedly emphasized that technical workers look for different things from employers during recruitment, development, and knowledge transfer. This report aims to answer some important questions about managing this strategically important group of workers.”“It is no secret that the world is experiencing a shortage of technical workers. Across the globe, STEM jobs are growing as a percent of total jobs, such as in the U.S., where one-third of the fastest-growing job categories are in STEM fields. In addition, demographic trends point toward increasing numbers of retiring workers, who will take with them their knowledge and expertise and leave behind a smaller pool of technical talent,” said Elissa Tucker, SPHR, human capital management knowledge specialist for APQC. “Through this research we identify what some leading organizations are doing to find, manage, and keep these key employees.”
Dr. William J. Rothwell, SPHR, professor at the Pennsylvania State University and study subject matter expert, added, “Research has repeatedly emphasized that technical workers look for different things from employers during recruitment, development, and knowledge transfer. This report aims to answer some important questions about managing this strategically important group of workers.”
The five best-practice organizations examined in detail in the study include: Caterpillar, Inc., General Mills, Inc., IBM Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. Space Systems Company (SSC), and Schlumberger Ltd.
As outlined in the full study report, these organizations take a planned approach to talent management, frequently tailoring their investments to the unique needs of technical workers. The comprehensive, proactive, and customized nature of their programs translates into superior outcomes—most notably, the retention of adequate numbers of high-quality technical workers who are motivated to work hard to achieve business objectives.
Ultimately, the APQC study uncovered 19 best practices for managing technical talent. The practices, organized according to the phases of the employee life cycle, include:
ESTABLISHING GOVERNANCE FOR TECHNICAL TALENT MANAGEMENT
1. Dedicate specific job roles or teams to oversee technical talent management.
2. Select individuals with technical skills to lead technical talent management initiatives.
3. Use work force planning to link technical talent management strategy with business strategy.
4. Include work force diversity in the technical talent management strategy.
RECRUITING TECHNICAL TALENT
5. Craft and communicate an employment brand that appeals to technical workers.
6. Develop campus recruiting relationships and internship programs as sources of technical talent.
7. Use technology to recruit technical talent.
8. Encourage students to pursue technical careers.
MANAGING TECHNICAL TALENT PERFORMANCE
9. Use competency models to guide and assess technical worker performance.
10. Ground performance conversations with technical employees in facts and data.
MANAGING TECHNICAL CAREERS
11. Offer flexible career paths, including dual-career ladders.
12. Provide self-service and/or technology-based tools to assist technical workers in planning for careers at the organization.
DEVELOPING TECHNICAL TALENT
13. Leverage a succession planning process to identify, develop, and promote high-potential technical talent.
14. Use on-the-job training as the primary mechanism for developing technical talent.
REWARDING AND RETAINING TECHNICAL TALENT
15. Recognize high-performance technical employees in public ways.
16. Offer development and advancement opportunities to retain technical employees.
17. Use work/life balance and flexible work options to retain technical talent.
TRANSFERRING TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE
18. Offer technical workers multiple ways to exchange expertise.
EVALUATING THE TECHNICAL TALENT MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
19. Make fact-based decisions regarding how to improve technical talent management.
Detailed descriptions of the practices, supported by case studies from the best-practice organizations, may be found in the full research report published by APQC.
APQC is a member-based nonprofit and one of the world's leading proponents of knowledge management, benchmarking, and best practices business research. Working with more than 750 organizations worldwide in all industries, APQC provides organizations with the information they need to work smarter, faster, and with confidence. Visit www.apqc.org or call +1.713.681.4020 and learn how to Make Best Practices Your PracticesSM.
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