SCG takes a look at some of the new changes to the Australian workplace and how employers are attracting and retaining the best talent.
As businesses across the nation struggle to fill job vacancies, recruitment firms are keeping a close eye on working mothers, seniors, and other peripheral groups. Law firms, once seen as old fashioned boys’ clubs, are now moving with the times and in a move that signals the degree of change in the workforce, mothers may be the biggest winners out of the national skills shortage.
One of SCGs clients in the legal arena introduced a Parenting Partner programme two years ago. An initiative that assigns a senior member of staff to pregnant employees and mothers to act as their advocate on family and work issues. As a result approximately one quarter of the partners are now women, accompanied by half of the senior associates. This is just one innovative measure that in a tough recruitment market can spell the difference between keeping or loosing the best talent.
The reality for organisations is that the talent crisis is hurting the bottom line. With some companies committing extra time and money to finding staff, some projects are simply being shelved due to the lack of human capital required to ensure a successful delivery. At SCG, the Directors and Partners believe that low unemployment and a buoyant economy means the problem won’t go away; if anything, it will only get worse. Whilst staff once yearned for the proverbial gold watch, employees are now considered to have “missed the boat” if they are not switching roles every 3-5 years. With generation Y now firmly in the market place, holding onto someone for two or three years is the general expectation.
Not surprisingly, some companies are getting creative in their bid to plug the talent gap. For example, a major financial services group and a key client of SCG has introduced a new initiative giving staff the option of working for four years and then taking a year off with an income. An employee earning $125,000 a year can opt to take home $100,000 a year for 4 years and then take the fifth as a year long sabbatical on the same salary. Other organisations are promoting workplace flexibility, where employees adopt patterns of work that suit their lifestyles and life stages. It seems a high profile brand is also a selling point. A recent recruitment survey found governments and public sector topped the list of ideal workplaces, followed by ANZ, Virgin, Telstra, Westpac, IBM, Optus, Microsoft, Vodafone and PwC.
The skills crisis is in part attributable to the fact most companies advertise roles that target a limited demographic; for “seeking a dynamic professional looking for the next move up” read “someone aged 25-35”, for “must have local experience” read “looking for an Australian”. Immigrant workers, mothers and older employees have, in the past, been ignored and this needs to change. The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that in 2031, when the last baby boomer turns 65, the median age of the population will be 42 and half years old – up from 35 and half in 2001.
So where to from here? At SCG we recommend that our clients who are looking to recruit address a growing list of “must-dos” in order to be an attractive option in a competitive workplace. On the agenda are more benefits, greater employment flexibility, overseas sourcing, an emphasis on broadening the skills of existing staff, and increased sabbaticals. The aim is to create a fun and challenging environment that recognises the real need for people to have a life outside of work.
However, most surveys simply count the people who enter or exit the business, without considering “good” or “bad” turnover. Losing corporate stars is a real headache that can cut profits, but the exit of poor performers is often in the best interests of a company too. So the best managers plan to loose staff and it’s this quality of leadership that will set companies apart in their bid to attract tomorrow’s talent today. Whether they are loosing staff because they are managing poor performance out, or promoting talent into bigger roles every 2-3 years, leadership is emerging as the crucial issue. Whilst using innovative attraction and retention methodologies can work to draw talent into the business, unless the people who are driving the strategy of an organisation focus on engagement and “rotation”, they can only offer so much in today’s war on talent. And the good news for businesses which do get it right is that they are more likely to see a blossoming bottom line and can rest assured that recruits are satisfied and less likely to start looking elsewhere.
Stonewater Consulting Group – SCG – is a leading firm of executive recruitment consultants, providing professional career advice and guidance for candidates seeking executive jobs and management positions across a wide range of industry segments including accounting, legal, finance and banking. Our client services include talent management, executive search specialising in locating senior level managers and corporate executives as well as providing human capital advice & services. Make an online enquiry or contact one of our Principals to hear first-hand how we can add genuine value to your business.