Today, it’s harder than ever to fill open positions in EHS. And even if you are able to find someone with the right skills and qualifications, skilled EHS and sustainability professionals are in high demand and you’ll likely have to compete with other organizations that offer more money or a better title. That’s why having a formal EHS talent management strategy is a good idea for any organization.
What is a talent management strategy?
A talent management strategy is a methodically designed plan to attract, develop, and retain a workforce. It outlines how you will recruit and onboard new employees, how you will foster their learning and development, how you will retain them, and even how you will prepare for their departure or retirement. The ultimate function of a talent management strategy is to build an engaged, productive workforce that stays with your organization for the long-term.
Elements of a talent management strategy
Building an effective talent management strategy involves more than just jotting down a few ideas about what you think might attract new employees to your company and encourage them to stick around. There are a number of components you must focus on in order to successfully fill your talent pool:
There’s no denying the shortage of EHS talent, but quality candidates are still available. The key is knowing how to recruit EHS professionals by making your organization more appealing to experienced candidates and recent grads. This might mean rewriting your job descriptions to give applicants a sense of the fulfilling career path they can enjoy at your organization. Or, it might mean getting more involved in career fairs, industry conferences, job boards, and other places that potential new hires hang out.
Once you’ve attracted candidates to apply for open positions, you also need to think about how you can structure your hiring process to attract the best people for your organization. For example, online application systems that screen resumes can be a helpful tool if you have a large number of applicants, but they can also inadvertently weed out qualified candidates whose resumes don’t quite fit the bill. Another area to think about is your interview process. You might consider allowing current EHS staff, facility supervisors, and shop-floor employees to help draft interview questions or participate in interviews so that you can be sure you’re hiring the right person for the role.
You’ve hired the perfect candidate for your EHS department. Now what? Onboarding is a critical and often-overlooked aspect of any talent management strategy. According to SHRM, onboarding is “the process of integrating a new employee with a company and its culture, as well as getting a new hire the tools and information needed to become a productive member of the team”.
If you don’t have a formal onboarding process, writing out a list of the new employee’s responsibilities is a good place to start. If you’re using an EHS management system like Perillon, you can quickly reassign tasks like permit renewals, inspections, and reporting deadlines to the new team member so they know what needs to get done and when it’s due. Some organizations even document the processes involved in completing various tasks and attach this supporting documentation to the task, so that new employees have a step-by-step description of how to complete the task from start to finish.
4. Training & talent development
Training isn’t just for new hires. Whether you call it continuing education, professional development, or simply training, existing EHS employees need ongoing opportunities to gain new skills and certifications. Staff should have plenty of options for formal and informal training, including lunch-and-learns, refresher courses, mentorships, conferences, online and self-paced training.
Training can help EHS staff stay abreast of new regulatory developments and compliance rules your company needs to be aware of. It also helps them adapt to evolving workplace challenges like ESG reporting. Nearly 9 in 10 employees say that training is important to them, and half want more training opportunities than their company currently offers. This means that improving your training offerings goes above and beyond helping employees perform better at their jobs. It also has real implications for employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention.
Retention is a significant part of any talent management strategy. Why? Because there’s more to building a strong workforce than just hiring and training employees. A strong retention strategy shows employees that you care about keeping them around for the long haul. That’s especially important in fields like EHS where employee retention is low and turnover is the norm.
Raises and bonuses can help with employee retention, but it’s just one part of the equation. It’s equally important to pay attention to things like your company culture, benefits, remote work perks, employee recognition, and advancement opportunities. These are all important factors in whether staff decide to stay or leave your organization.
6. Succession planning
If you follow the steps above and build a solid talent management strategy that includes recruitment, hiring, onboarding, training, and retention, then you’ll have much less of a problem with turnover than most organizations. However, some employees will still leave from time to time, so you still need a succession plan. A succession plan can help ensure that the company keeps running smoothly when a key employee moves on to a new company, gets promoted, or retires.
Make sure your succession plan includes identifying and developing current employees to take over leadership roles in the event of turnover. Additionally, you may want to use an EHS management software like Perillon to make sure critical documents and information are not lost, locked away in a file cabinet, or stored on someone’s personal computer when they leave.
Refining your EHS talent management strategy
The demand for talented EHS professionals is at an all-time high — and that trend will only continue as issues like worker safety, climate change, and ESG become more prominent. A strong talent management strategy is a must for any organization that wants to compete for and keep the best people. Pay attention to the six elements we've outlined above, and over time, employee feedback will help you refine your strategy to ensure you're getting the right individuals on board and helping them reach their full potential.