Softly softly – how to win the “war for talent”
I’VE BEEN READING a new survey about recruitment and retention – what is more commonly known these days as “talent”, or (more dramatically) the “war for talent”.
The survey, released earlier this year by specialist international human resources (HR) research firm Korn Ferry, gives some insights on how to win this war.
Pay will get you into the fight, but the survey shows that if you want to get the best person for the job, you need to pay a lot of attention to the soft stuff: company culture – is your workplace a happy one? – and career progression.
In this time of one of our highest employment rates ever, recruitment is genuinely a two-way street – candidates are checking you out just as much as you are interviewing them. Are you the kind of organisation they want to join? More importantly, are you the kind of manager they want to work for?
Today’s job candidate is less interested in how much you pay them than they used to be. Survey respondents (more than 1100 HR experts worldwide) believe that five years ago salary and benefits packages were rated, by far, as the main reason for job candidates choosing an organisation. Now that preference has dropped by half. Instead, the top two criteria for candidates are “company culture” and “career progression”. The benefits package comes in at number three (19 percent compared with 39 percent five years ago).
A huge shift. Thinking back to 2011-2012, respondents reckoned only about seven percent of candidates were choosing an organisation for its company culture.
“Five years ago the world was still reeling from the Great Recession [otherwise known as the 2007-2008 GFC], mass layoffs, and all-round jitters,” says Korn Ferry Futurestep global operating executive William Sebra. “It only makes sense that candidates felt the need for a stable paycheck... Today workers are generally moving beyond basic needs to different priorities.”
And it’s a difficult shift for employers.
It’s easy to get your head around adding a few thousand dollars to the monthly salary bill to secure your chosen staffers. It’s much harder to build and maintain a culture employees want to be part of.
Company culture is more vague and abstract. Having a good company culture probably involves having a clear and consistent vision and trying to put people before operations.
More specifically it could mean anything from being family friendly, to avoiding micromanagement. It might be about the physical layout of the office and/or it might reflect how transparent your organisation is – or how good the communication.
For some people, a good company culture will involve social and environmental responsibility. For others it will be about wellness, or feeling well-supported and appreciated – the internal stuff. Or all of the above.
Part of the change involves the rise of millennials (20-35 year olds) who now outnumber Gen Xs (35-50 year olds) in many workplaces. Both groups are looking for company culture, says Korn Ferry Futurestep’s president of talent acquisition solutions Jeanne MacDonald.
“Millennials want to feel good about where they’re working, beyond cosmetic changes to creating a sense of purpose. Gen X are more interested in taking their skill set to a place where they can make an impact.”
The focus on company culture isn’t going away. The Korn Ferry survey suggests flexible working will be the number one priority for candidates in five years’ time, with company culture not far behind.