How to win the war for talent

If you think the secret behind making your business a top company of choice lies in fat paychecks and benefits, recruitment experts say it may be time to go back to the drawing board

The traditional assumption that the highest bidder will always win the war for talent is outdated and grossly inaccurate.

Findings from the latest Jack Hammer executive report into attracting and retaining executive talent highlights the fact that top mid-to-high level executives are more concerned about an organisation’s holistic offering in terms of outlining a clear and logical career path, leadership and taking on challenging roles that will position them as a key player to the organisation’s success.

Essentially, attracting and retaining top talent lies in creating a high level of job satisfaction that promotes personal and professional growth.

“What became abundantly clear is that it is definitely not all about the money. Sure, most of the respondents definitely wanted companies to show them the money, but finding and keeping executives requires much more than just a compelling package,” says Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters CEO Debbie Goodman-Bhyat.

“As it stands, the role itself, leadership, values and culture are right up there with financial incentives. Top talent want to be stretched and challenged and their work must have meaning within the context of their lives.”

The research, which was conducted by EIGHTY20 among hundreds of mid-to-high- level executives, revealed that 97% of respondents cited dissatisfaction with their current role as the reason for seeking and accepting new job offers.

Unilever HR Vice President for South and Southern Africa, Antoinette Irvine, says the key to becoming an employer of choice boils down to favourable HR frameworks, going the extra mile for your employees and strategising your competitive edge.

“We have invested significantly in the right HR operating framework, technology and optimal HR practices to deliver value to the business,” she was quoted saying in the Mail & Guardian.

The Top Employers Institute named the consumer goods giant the country’s top employer for the past two consecutive years, while last year it was crowned the top employer on the continent.

“We believe that being competitive in the future will not be about machinery and technology as all of those factors will be common to all organisations. The strategic advantage will come down to the people in the organisation,” said Irvine.

As it stands, the role itself, leadership, values and culture are right up there with financial incentives. Top talent want to be stretched and challenged and their work must have meaning within the context of their lives.

Unilever offices boast on-site facilities including a gym, beauty salon and an ice-cream parlour, and the company offers its employees flexi-time options and “agile work practices”.

Beyond good HR practices and work environments, Goodman-Bhyat says maintaining the balance between the outputs an employer expects from a top performer and how much they’re willing to pay for it is a vital component to attracting talent. If you offer a massive remuneration package, but you have unreasonable output expectations, it’s highly likely you could wind up scaring potential talent away.

“Top execs are expected to be available 24/7, delivering on multiple, complex and often onerous demands from a vast range of stakeholders. In return, they want to be rewarded appropriately and fairly. They will very likely sign on the dotted line should a new employer be perceived as offering better financial rewards for their efforts, but people will not move for a bigger package alone.”

“If the financial offer is excellent, but the expectations of the role outputs are exceptionally high, even ambitious, driven executives will think twice about accepting. However if the balance between the expectations and the reward is fair, then you’ll have a deal and most probably a sustainable deal at that,” she says.

In a previous interview with DESTINY, Accenture Compensation and Benefits Manager Kathy Pillay said creating talent grooming programmes within an organisation elevates that company’s attractiveness as a top employer.

“Attracting the best talent means keeping them sharp at all times. That is what we endeavour to do on a daily basis. It’s important that the organisation provides the best value for that person. The individual should feel like they are rewarded for what they put into that company,” she said.

Tips for preventing good people from leaving

  • Show your employees that you care. Take personal interest in developing your staff, and mentor and coach the high performers.
  • Measure the ‘soft’ skills as well as the hard skills. In addition to output, profit and sales, consider how the work gets done, the balanced score card and customer satisfaction.
  • Weed out poor managers. Employees dislike poor management so act quickly to preserve your credibility in the workforce.
  • Create a meaningful and challenging work environment that enables people to do their best.
  • Offer career development and promotional opportunities.

Tip box source: Kelly Industrial