Blog Article

What is Talent Density and How Does it Supercharge a Workforce?

Group of smiling coworkers

Which will have a bigger impact on your business: the overall size of your workforce, or the capacity of individual employees? At first glance, your gut might tell you that a larger employee base will yield higher productivity. But the reality is more complex. 

While a larger workforce might give you access to a greater number of man hours, a smaller team of highly capable top performers can often get the job done just as well – if not better. But how does this small team outperform a significantly larger one? The answer is talent density

What is Talent Density?

Popularized by Netflix’s founding CEO Reed Hastings, talent density refers to the concentration of talent at an organization and how much talent is collectively held by your employees. You can also think of it as the ratio: a team of 5 people each with an abundance of talent will have higher talent density than a larger team with average performance metrics. 

When you boil it down, talent density is based on the idea that every hire matters, regardless of seniority level, department, or job title. Each person at an organization serves a specific and valuable role in the overall success of the business. When you hire highly capable people, you’re no longer subject to the luck of the draw – you’ve stacked the deck in your (and the bottom line’s) favor. 

Strong Performance Breeds Strong Performance

Talent density is rooted in the overall culture of a business. It’s the outcome of a company that prioritizes excellence and high standards, while fostering innovation and collaboration. 

A team of high achievers derives its productivity both from each person’s internal motivation to succeed and from the social phenomenon of conformity. In this case, conformity refers to people modifying their behavior and attitudes to match that of the larger group to create a sense of belonging. Putting the Psych 101 textbook aside: people are more likely to strive for quality when everyone around them is too. 

And keep in mind, it’s not just good performance that’s contagious. Low performance lowers standards (“If my coworker doesn’t work hard, why should I?”) and research demonstrates that when teams brimming with brilliance have just one person dragging them down, the success of the entire team suffers. 

Effective teams are highly productive and they foster a greater desire to achieve productivity within themselves. When every player is an MVP, your team becomes unbeatable. As an added benefit, everyone wants to join that winning team. Companies with high talent density have an easier time attracting and retaining top talent compared to their competitors. 

How to Increase Talent Density at Your Organization

Now that you’ve learned what talent density is and what is can do for your business, here’s how you can go about increasing it at your own organization: 

Use assessments for initial evaluation

Optimizing your talent acquisition strategy is a critical first step in increasing your organization’s talent density. It’s important to consider both the skills a candidate brings to the table, but also their capacity to learn and their general disposition. 

Aptitude and skills assessments can confirm their innate abilities upfront, and personality tests can help you understand if the role a candidate is applying for is a good match for their innate tendencies. 

Assessments help take the guesswork out of hiring, allowing you to make talent decisions with confidence. By ensuring that your hiring pipeline is built to find the cream of the crop, you’ll start increasing talent density with each new hire you make. 

Understand team dynamics with post-hire and development tools 

Hiring high performers is just the first step – the rest comes after onboarding is complete. In order to set each of your employees up for success, it’s vital that you understand their strengths and weaknesses (since even top performers aren’t the best at everything!) so you can build well-rounded teams. 

Post-hire tools like Criteria’s Talent Insights make it possible for managers to better connect with and motivate their reports, for team members to more effectively communicate with their coworkers, and for individuals to better understand themselves. 

Plus, when you’ve got an organization full of go-getters, it’s important to help them reach their professional goals by offering development and training opportunities. From skill-focused bootcamps to mentorship programs to self-guided online learning, enabling your people to grow and hone their skills is vital to keeping your talent engaged. 

Create a culture that upholds a standard of excellence

If you want high talent density at your organization, phoning it in on creating a top-notch culture isn’t an option. Top talent wants to stick with a company that fosters creativity, collaboration, innovation, and a positive work environment. Investing in employee development has loads of benefits for an organization, like improving retention and productivity. 

Leading by example is key here – if you want excellence from employees, the upper ranks of your organization also need to strive to be the best they possibly can. This sentiment will flow downstream and help drive the desire to succeed at every level of your business. 

Coupled with the support from their managers and availability of training, each employee can build out and refine their skillset, which results in continuously increasing talent density organization-wide.

Talent Density Transforms Your Business

Having a workforce that is chock-full of top performers with diverse and robust skills sets your organization up for long-term success. While increasing talent density isn't quick, it is an endeavor worth taking on made much easier by leveraging tools that can help you identify and nurture talent. 

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