Why Sustainable Talent Is a Must-Have in 2023

Hiring and retaining great talent is a competitive feat for every company. Hiring sustainable talent—employees that will help you succeed and stick with you for the long haul—is even more challenging. But it’s also essential.

Investing in talented employees you can develop over time, and who will invest in your business in return, drives higher performance, more cost-effective operations, and greater adaptability in today’s ever-changing environments.

In this guide, we’ll cover why sustainable talent must be a priority for your organization now and in the future, plus 3 critical traits to look for in new candidates you consider.

Quick Takeaways

  • Sustainable talent is defined by employees who are committed to your company, willing and able to learn new skills, and adaptable in changing environments.
  • Many companies are pursuing sustainable talent by expanding their hiring requirements beyond traditional degree programs.
  • More than 80% of employees want more opportunities to reskill and upskill in their jobs.
  • Three key qualities of sustainably talented candidates include: a solid balance of skills, education, and experience, high willingness to learn, and an innovative mindset.

What is Sustainable Talent and Why Do You Need It?

Sustainable talent is talent that stands the test of time—employees who not only show a commitment to working for your company long-term, but also have the ability to learn new skills and adapt to ever-changing business environments.

Finding talented prospective employees who fit this profile isn’t easy. More than ever, people are willing and able to change jobs rather than stay the course with a single organization.

In addition, many talented young professionals are choosing alternative training paths outside of two- or four-year degree institutions, meaning they’re often filtered out of hiring processes at companies that require a college education by default.

Companies must adjust their processes and expand beyond stringent degree requirements if they want to be able to find top prospects for their open positions and hire sustainable talent in an ongoing way. Further, they must level up their employee experience if they want to retain their best employees and develop them for eventual leadership roles.

Doing so pays off in spades—developing sustainable talent is more cost-effective than continually hiring and onboarding new talent, enables you to build an internal sense of loyalty and mutual investment (the company in its employees, and employees in the company), and creates a growth culture that moves your business forward.

Hiring sustainable talent starts with knowing what to look for in your prospective employees. Let’s look at 7 traits to prioritize now in your hiring process.

3 Things to Look For When Hiring Sustainable Talent

Skills, Education, Experience — A Balanced Trifecta

Over the past few decades, a college degree has become the status quo for most positions on the job market (even, in many cases, in non-corporate settings), but recent research shows this may not be the right strategy.

Most young professionals say real workforce training is the most crucial element to preparing for a career, and half of college graduates say their degree did not adequately prepare them for all the skills they’d need in their post-grad positions.

Further, financial barriers to traditional college institutions means that certain populations are unintentionally excluded by degree-based hiring requirements, putting companies out of alignment with their commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion and causing them to miss out on would-be top candidates.

For these reasons, organizations are shifting to a more skills-based approach to hiring—about three-quarters of companies across working models use skills-based hiring in some capacity.

Bar chart shows that about three-quarters of organizations across working models use skills-based hiring.
Image Source

When recruiting sustainable talent, forward-thinking companies know it’s not all about GPA and degree title. Instead, it’s about a combination of skills, education (both through degree and other training programs) and experience that makes for well-rounded, top-qualified employees.

Clear Ability and Willingness to Learn

Today, business never stands still. In the past companies may have been able to maintain a strategy or infrastructure technology tool or business model for years and even decades at a time,but today market demands and consumer expectations change rapidly. 

To survive in this type of environment, companies need sustainable talent that can also evolve.

The best employees, then, are not necessarily those with a critical set of skills at the time of onboarding, but those most able and willing to learn them as required. Ensure your hiring team prioritizes this willingness and capability to learn and improve.

Fortunately, most young professionals are embracing this necessity so long as they feel the mutual commitment from their employers and are even pursuing jobs with companies that offer it—more than 80% say they want more reskilling and upskilling positions from their company, and 74% say they’re willing to reskill in order to remain employable long term.

Innovation, Creativity, and Systems Thinking

To build a pipeline of sustainable talent, you want to look for prospective new employees and current employees within your organization who think beyond siloed roles and responsibilities and apply innovation, creativity, and systems thinking to their work.

These are people who are solution-oriented, think outside the box both about solving problems and pursuing new opportunities, want to collaborate with other teams across the company, and seek out ways to improve both individually and organizationally.

Today, 80% of organizations see innovation as a top-three priority and are increasing their investment in growing it, including through hiring the right people.

Over to You

Sustainable talent is most essential of all in marketing, sales, and customer service—the areas of your business that directly impact customer satisfaction and revenue growth potential. Many companies choose to outsource these critical functions for continual, cost-effective access to the top talent and technology tools in this space.

Televerde offers industry-best solutions in marketing, sales, and customer service executed by teams equipped with the skills needed to represent your company well. Contact our team today to learn how we can customize our solutions to meet your needs and help you grow.

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