How Companies Attract And Retain Talent Will Determine The Broader Talent Implications: Amy Goldfinger

Amy leads global talent at Walmart, the Fortune #1 company. Previously, she co-led the Global Human Resources Advisory Practice at Heidrick & Struggles, where she advised clients in the areas of executive search, HR transformation, talent management program strategy and execution, and onboarding.

Prior to joining the firm, Amy was a Product Director at Dun & Bradstreet, managing a portfolio of risk management products and services. Earlier, Amy spent six years at Booz Allen Hamilton, specializing in the design and implementation of leadership development programs and competency-based human capital systems, including selection and recruitment, and post-merger integrations for both public and private organisations.

Amy earned her MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA in Psychology with a minor in Business from the University of Rochester. She is a Certified Professional in Human Resources Management and has a certificate in executive coaching. 

In an exclusive conversation with us, Amy shares strategies to streamline talent management strategies to attract and retain the best possible talent in the face of the ‘great resignation’. 

Why are employees leaving and switching jobs in droves amid this crisis? How do you see the larger talent movement scenario and its implications?

The last year has presented many challenges and opportunities for employees. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted many people to think about their goals, what matters to them, and how they want to move forward. For some, this means changing careers to align with their interests and passions more closely. Attracting and retaining talent is more important than ever, and how companies do that will determine the broader talent implications. 

At Walmart, for example, we took the next step to serve veterans and military spouses and build relationships across this talent community. We launched a “Find-a-Future” site to help them achieve their goals, whether early career, mid-career, or experienced professionals. The site enables them to audit their current skills and experiences and connect to the right partners to find employment, gain education, or grow their businesses. The talent implication here is to hire and create high-quality experiences through the platform that brings all the resources together to advance their economic opportunities and well-being in so many ways.

What can organisations do to streamline their talent management strategies to attract and retain the best possible talent? Is it only about getting customer and employee ‘experience’ right?

Streamlining talent management strategies starts with gathering and analyzing the data. Organisations can extract insights from their data to determine what processes are achieving their goals and whether those processes are solving problems. The data also shows what opportunities exist to improve processes that would attract and retain the best talent. Secondly, organisations can survey and talk to their current employees, especially newly onboarded and front-line employees. Listen to employee feedback about what worked and didn’t work and what could be better. These recommendations could help strengthen your employee experience, which in turn creates an even better customer experience. 

Investing in an employee’s long-term success through learning and growth opportunities is one talent strategy to attract and retain the best possible talent. We recently announced 100% paid college tuition and books for eligible associates at Walmart through our Live Better U education program. Employees can earn college degrees or learn trade skills without the burden of education debt. Walmart’s nearly $1 billion commitment over the next five years in career-driven training and development helps create a path to grow their careers at Walmart. 

Given the frantic pace of mass exodus, do you think CEOs should change their mindset to realign their vision around talent management?

Managing talent well is what helps drive organisations forward. Walmart’s founder, Sam Walton, used to say, “our people make the difference,” and that is still true today. We create opportunities for employees to find their purpose, grow their skills, and discover their career journeys because we want them to stay at Walmart and create the best workplace. 

CEOs and leaders need to have a mindset that listens and values employees while creating an inclusive environment of belonging where everyone wants to work. They need to help employees learn, grow, and advance in their careers. Being curious and inquisitive, adaptable to situations, and flexible in how people work in an era of COVID-19 can help CEOs and leaders succeed through talent. 

What are your strategies to elevate employee value proposition to mirror what they seek in the changing work environment? How are you measuring the impact?

We learned communication is one of the most effective ways to elevate our value proposition. Listening to our employees and acting on their feedback ensures we meet their needs and address their pain points. Moving quickly, being agile, and innovative has helped us meet the moment in today’s changing environment where employees’ attitudes and behaviors shift rapidly. We continue to measure the impact by looking at the data, surveying our employees, and ultimately assessing whether we achieve business goals. 

For example, Walmart recently wrapped up its largest internship class ever, with 600+ interns representing 47 of the 50 U.S. states. We hosted more than 88 program events, including an executive speaker series, an excursion to Bentonville, AR, and Walmart’s distribution center and museum tours to elevate our value proposition through experiences. These experiences provided insights on how Walmart’s work environment is changing and where they can make an impact.  

Can corporations leapfrog legacy practices and build new approaches that enable highly qualified women to succeed in these dynamic markets?

The simple answer is yes. Corporations need to explore their current legacy practices and determine whether they foster inclusion, equity, and diversity across the enterprise. Find out what talent is succeeding or not and why that’s the case.

Figuring out the why can help create an innovative, new approach or practice that enables highly qualified women to flourish. At Walmart, we believe building a workplace for everyone is how we can become an even better Walmart and influence the world for good. 

What are the top differentiators for Walmart when it comes to the talent war?

Our top differentiator is that we believe our people make the difference. Every day, our associates help our customers save money so they can create a better life for themselves and their families. They bring our values to life by acting with integrity, respecting one another, striving for excellence, and serving the customer. They are the reason why our culture is strong and why communities across the U.S. and the world continue to choose Walmart as their shopping destination. 

Are you utilizing this moment as an opportunity to fix broken links and plan for the long term? Can you talk about any such initiative?

Over the last year, we saw an opportunity to streamline and strengthen our hiring process, so we could help people find meaningful jobs. In 2020, we hired more than 500,000 new associates globally to meet the surging emergency demands of shoppers. We trimmed the two-week hiring process into a 24-hour turnaround by leveraging existing technologies and gaining efficiencies wherever possible. We are planning for the long term through innovation, tracking the experience by continuing to attract people of all backgrounds who can thrive in an ever-changing, multi-channel environment. 

What’s your take on HR today? How can they add value to the business with new responsibilities being added to them including ensuring team member safety and well-being?

In HR today, showing humanity, humility, and compassion is even more essential. At Walmart, we’ve always had that in our DNA and well-being in our culture. The events of 2020 demonstrated we need to keep the human connection strong as we do more things digitally and differently. How you add value to the business is just as important as what value you add. The how is central to our roles as leaders. We can express that with empathy, understanding, and being respectful to one another as we work through new workplace safety responsibilities.

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