How a potent talent management plan amplifies business growth

DocuSign’s senior director of talent acquisition outlines the benefits of a robust talent management plan that goes beyond recruitment

Author: Devon MaloneyMay 30th, 2019Illustration by Josh Holinaty

The recruitment and talent management fields have changed dramatically over the past few decades. According to a 2018 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, millennial workers are a more mobile workforce—jumping from employer to employer—than baby boomers, who stay at their jobs three times as long on average.

In most industries, attracting and retaining top talent has become vastly more competitive than it was a few decades ago. What’s more, successfully integrating talent management—the practice of both acquiring employees and nurturing their growth—as a core pillar of your business strategy is a key part of an organization’s ongoing success.

One survey conducted by research firm the Institute for Corporate Productivity consisting of 350 recruiters at companies like Apple and Prudential found that high-performing organizations (those with a high market performance index) were four times as likely as competitors to have a fully aligned global talent acquisitions team—that is, a team that knows its employees’ current capabilities, what they need now, and what they might need in the future.

For three years running, DocuSign has appeared on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work rankings. DocuSign allows you to electronically sign, prepare, act on, and manage agreements online. DocuSign’s senior director of talent acquisition, Will Bronaugh, a veteran of Groupon and Amazon’s talent teams, shares his thoughts on how establishing a strong talent management strategy can set a company up for long-term success.

A thoughtful candidate experience boosts brand affinity

“Candidates out there have a ton of choices, so I tell my team: Candidate experience trumps everything,” says Bronaugh. “This is something that’s critical everywhere, but it’s also what resonated with me as I was going through my own interview process at DocuSign.”

“Creating that emotional engagement is such a powerful tool, when you’re hiring people and then when you’re developing and retaining folks that are already here.”

Will Bronaugh senior director of talent acquisition at DocuSign

Bronaugh recalls how he met with a lot of leaders when he was interviewing there who took the time to answer all of his questions. “It wasn’t just about interviewing me as a candidate—going through the résumé, my skill sets—it was about truly understanding how my values aligned with DocuSign,” he explains. “What are the things that I can contribute to the organization?”

Bronaugh also says that when everyone involved in the hiring process comes to the interview table having done their homework on the candidate, it can do wonders for the company’s reputation as a whole. One LinkedIn report on hiring statistics suggests that demand for thoughtful candidate experience is sky-high, with 94% of candidates wanting interview feedback and just 41% having actually gotten it.

“Creating that emotional engagement is such a powerful tool, when you’re hiring people and then when you’re developing and retaining folks that are already here,” he says. “Candidates feel whether the interviewers took time to prepare or if the interviewers have bought into the organization. They can see it.”

Ultimately, Bronaugh says, candidates can tell whether this is a “check-the-box activity” or if “the hiring team is investing the time in recruitment and hiring.”

A holistic approach to talent means a better, renewable talent pool

That positive candidate experience isn’t just important for today’s hiring. It can also make hiring for future roles a lot easier.

“You can’t just have a one-to-many relationship and expect to get the top talent anymore,” says Bronaugh. “Recruiting is becoming more and more relationship-based, so the more that you can create a one-to-one relationship with candidates, the better off you are. At DocuSign, we want candidates to think of us first when they start to think about making a move.”

The solution: Get proactive.

“The whole idea around talent pools is that you build relationships with candidates and you reach out to them on a frequent basis, pull them into opportunities to engage with the company,” he says. “It may not even be a recruiting opportunity—it could be for speaking engagements or for news articles or curated content. It’s incredibly effective at establishing that long-term relationship. I absolutely recommend taking that approach, especially in such a competitive labor market, because in some cases, it can take six months, a year or even longer to hire for a role.”

Focus on designing an “employee life cycle”

Building a successful workforce is less like building a car and more like growing a garden. You can’t just hire people, plug them into the office, and go. Hiring people and dropping them unceremoniously into the fray is a surefire way to start the countdown to their departure from the company.

You have to place new hires into a nurturing environment and continue to provide them with the right support they need to grow. Ultimately, talent management is the way you build employee engagement as well as long-term positive employee morale and loyalty.

“Talent management is a fairly broad term,” Bronaugh says. “I look at it as an employee life cycle. It’s about the talent attraction, sure, but then also developing and inspiring the talent that you have, whether that’s contributing to their career growth, advancement or, in some cases, even career changes.”

Statistics bear this out: That LinkedIn report also found that professional development opportunities were second only to compensation when it came to candidates accepting a job offer. “Upskilling” employees has become a priority for CEOs in an era that has been called the “expertise economy.”

DocuSign’s internal company objective is for employees to “feel like they’re doing the best work of their lives.” This could mean transitioning stellar talent into different roles within the company or even growing their skill sets to the point where other employers take notice.

“If we create an experience for them here that leads to that career and that personal growth, then they win as an employee and we win as an employer,” says Bronaugh.

Effective talent management improves organizational health

Talent management is about organizational health. When an organization demonstrates a willingness to invest in its people at every level, it minimizes the reasons its best talent might seek opportunities elsewhere, and it motivates employees to invest right back.

“When organizations can really focus on assessing [employees and candidates] as whole individuals and creating connection with them, I’ve never seen where that approach does not work,” says Bronaugh. “It creates a positive brand awareness. It creates an advantage in the marketplace when you’re looking at hiring and retention. It’s one of the things that has made DocuSign incredibly successful.”

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