Recent statistics show that unemployment is down and business performance is looking up. Time for back-slapping and relaxation, you would think? Well, no, the struggle is not yet over. As the green shoots of prosperity begin to slowly emerge a new battle line is becoming clearer. It is the battle over talent.
New research indicates that a third of organisations plan to increase their staff numbers over the next twelve months. Yet research also shows that three quarters of employers are concerned about a widening skills gap between their current employees’ competencies and what is required for the business to succeed in the future. It is an admission that they are lacking the necessary talent, despite ambitions to grow. It is also an admission that puts a premium on talent and forces businesses to compete doggedly with rivals in order to recruit the right talent that will help them achieve their expectations.
The rules for attracting and retaining talent in the workplace have changed considerably over the last few years as the nation crawls out of a deep recession.
Traditionally, companies have been over-simplistic in their attempts to attract and retain talent, investing heavily in financial benefit schemes with the intention of insuring themselves against attractive bids from rival organisations
Yet post-financial crisis hiring and retaining talent comes at a premium, and, contrary to popular opinion, this premium is no longer high wages and a substantial benefits package. Rather, talented workers are now looking for more from businesses, including a sense of working towards a higher goal or being part of something meaningful and, preferably, sustainable. Organisations that offer and communicate a purpose – beyond simply profit – give something tangible that employees can engage with.
Talented individuals also name the chance to develop and learn on the job as one of the top considerations when choosing to join a new organisation, but also the second biggest reason for leaving a job. Even when other aspects of the jobs are acceptable – such as pay and benefits – ambitious individuals can easily become disengaged if they don’t feel they are advancing in the role.
A healthy financial package will never entirely lose its appeal, but now employees are looking for more from their employer, such as purpose, identity and development. For HR departments it is essential that they create packages that incorporate all these benefits if they are to attract the best talent.