Winning the war for talent

by Rowland

Published on
November 19, 2021

Recruiting and retaining good people is challenging at the best of times, but in a post-pandemic world facing unprecedented challenges, talent retention is even more difficult and competitive. The war for talent has intensified.

The pandemic is playing out against a backdrop of social activism and urgent calls for organisations to do more. And with millennials 5.3 times more likely to remain working for a purpose-driven company, organisations need to better position themselves as an employer of choice and express their unique employee experience in a way that resonates.

Companies also need to live up to their proposition. This means finding ways to provide workplaces that promote resilience and embrace a model of working where flexibility, connectivity and communication co-exist.

So how do organisations win the war for talent? And what role can communication play in providing that winning edge?

In our third and final Corporate Affairs webinar for the year, Rowland partnered with some of Australia’s leading business and recruitment advisors, as well as communication professionals, who shared their insights and observations on the issues that go to the very heart of every organisation — its people.

We asked our panel about hybrid workplaces and how organisations can win the war for talent in the ‘new norm’. We also asked, if purpose-driven companies and brands are leading the way and winning the war for talent, how do companies translate their purpose into their employee experience and value proposition? What role does internal communication play in ensuring the purpose is consistently reinforced?

Facilitated by Rowland’s Executive Director, Helen Besly, our panel included:

  • Bruce Davidson, Executive Director — Davidson
  • Rona McLean-Carmody, Executive Strategic People and Culture Manager — Brisbane City Council
  • Fiona Sperou, Chief Operating Officer — Rowland.

Rowland Webinar – Winning the war for talent from Rowland. on Vimeo.

If you don’t have time to listen to our webinar, here’s a snapshot of some key takeaways.

We need to shift thinking from the ‘great resignation’ to the ‘great opportunity’. There are approximately 13 million people employed in Australia and of that, typically 20-30% have the intention to move jobs. However, the reality is that intention does not translate into action for most people. In the coming months, we will see around 40% of the workforce intending to move jobs, with up to 11% of the working population intending to move industries. We’ve never seen a market with such high demand for health services, aged care, technology, agribusiness and many other sectors. We need to shift the narrative from the great resignation to the great opportunity — the opportunity is how are we upskilling workers, what is it we’re offering by way of micro-credentialling and pathways into new careers – looking through that lens, we have an extraordinary opportunity. But, it is going to require public policy, government, private sectors, and educators to work together if we are going to realise that opportunity.

Hybrid can be a hindrance to the ‘new new’ workplace. It’s important to think of the workplace not so much as a hybrid but as a ‘new new’ workplace – an adaptation that has been created in response to the pandemic. Organisations are placing a heavier focus on their employees, and we are seeing systematic change across the board. Ultimately, organisations that can evolve faster than their environment are more likely to achieve success in the war for talent. The current situation has provided the opportunity to think about the new ways of working – what does it mean looking forward, how do we think about individual employees as valuable future assets as work continues to become more automated? How do we continue to develop those micro skills? How do we instil a growth mindset in employees so they want to go on the journey and learn new ways of learning, and become feeders into new roles as they emerge?

Actions speak louder than words and listening is critical.

Organisations must be grounded in action and communicate evidence of the employee proposition in a positive way. How you communicate this is quite simple – through human behaviour and action. It doesn’t need to be complicated. It’s time to get back to basics. Your behaviour and what you do has to match your promises.

Be transparent and follow through with what you say you’re going to do, and you’ll reap the retention rewards. If your words do not culminate in action, you’ll likely lose the war for talent.

Listening is also critical. Listen to your employees. And we need to challenge ourselves every day on whether we are actually listening or are we simply ticking boxes. Because as we’re seeing with many global trends, ticking boxes doesn’t cut it anymore.

Authentic leadership is critical. It has never been more critical for leaders to articulate a purpose and inspire people to live that purpose. Organisations can have procedures and policies but unless they are congruent with everyday behaviours from a leader at all levels, meaningful engagement won’t be achieved. Purpose must be top of mind for all levels of the organisation.

The art of conversation has never been more critical. While employee expectations have changed, client expectations have not. As more organisations implement long-term hybrid workplaces, it is critical to understand that while your employees’ expectations have changed (e.g. level of flexibility) your client’s/customer’s expectations have not. They expect the same level of service delivery and quality. To achieve this you must converse with your stakeholders, listen, communicate, follow-up, demonstrate action. Having meaningful conversations will reveal needs, help you understand expectations, identify barriers/challenges, and importantly uncover opportunities.

We must ask ourselves, what do we take forward from the learnings of the pandemic? How do we use the agility and art of conversation, listening, responsiveness and care to ensure we thrive and adapt in the ‘new new’ workplace?