Winning the War for Talent

It’s no secret that the structure of the workforce is undergoing some massive changes. As technology starts to really take hold of how we do business differently, we’re seeing a huge rise in changing work patterns. The last couple of years have seen a new type of working – and a new word for it. Telecommuting. What used to be called “working from home” has now been technically enhanced with a new name as well as new technology that allows a worker to “virtually” be in an office.

But this isn’t the only change that technology has had. I remember “back in the day” in my early career as an Accountant for a law firm, we had an up-to-the-minute accounting machine with magnetic strip ledger cards for every client. To do an end of month Trial Balance took us 2 full days of putting each card through that machine for it to read – and that didn’t include the running around time trying to find missing cards if the thing didn’t balance! I remember going to a presentation of a new IBM PC with accounting software that could do a Trial Balance with one click – and in about 2 minutes. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. There was 2 days a month of my time freed up!

The Changing Pace of Technology

Twenty five years on, think about how many processes like that have been shortened with technology. Processes that might have taken two, three or five days twenty, ten or even five years ago now can take minutes and many of those processes are the menial ones. But the advent of technology also means the need for basic skills (like feeding cards through machines) are disappearing and, because of that, roles require more skills so people are skilling up.

There a lot more we can do and, to do that, we need savvy and skilled people and, as I hear daily – good people are hard to find. There’s a shortage of the right people and, with unemployment levels as low as they’ve ever been – there’s a war taking place.

The war for good talent. Good people are in high demand. By everyone.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a Managing Director or a Barista, everyone is looking for great people – and it seems that they’re a scarce resource. The good ones know that they’re in demand and, because of that, they’re always on the market.

How do you find, get and keep the good ones?

The first thing you have to do is to become an employer of choice. As an organisation, you need to be the place the talent wants to work at. Employee benefits are one thing, but employee engagement is the big winner. Making your company and workplace someone that is fun, offers career paths to employees, has a dynamic and inclusive culture and values employee input are just a few of the hallmarks of being an employer of choice.

A recent survey conducted stated that the top reason employees look for in choosing who they want to work for is the ability to contribute to the organisation so, if you want to win the war for talent, you have to start looking at how you engage your employees. It’s about creating brand fanatics – not from outside the organisation but from within it.  And the benefits are twofold.

Brand Fans

Firstly, it drives down the cost of recruitment. Engaged employees stay longer and therefore recruitment, on boarding and off-boarding are substantially reduced as you simply have to do less of it.

The second benefit is that the cost of finding employees is drastically reduced. Why? Because once you have employees who are your own brand fanatics, guess what they do? Refer their friends!

Recently, at a HR Breakfast we held, Rhonda Brighton-Hall, GM of Human Resources at the Commonwealth Bank said that the bank had managed to flip around their hiring stats from 80% external hires and 20% internal to 80% internal and 20% external – by engaging employees and getting referrals from them for new staff members. I won’t tell you what the reduction in their recruitment costs were – but, as you can imagine, they were substantial.

Be an Employer of Choice

Becoming an employer of choice takes some effort but it’s not hard. It’s all about focusing on your most valuable resource – your people.  Instead of engaging consultants to tell you how, the easiest approach to doing this is to ask the people you currently have how you can be a place that they never want to leave. Don’t worry – they’ll tell you.  And it could be the most valuable advice you’ll ever get.

All you need to do then is implement it.

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