Dynamic Business Logo
Home Button
Bookmark Button

Finding and retaining staff

Australia’s skills shortage is making the process of finding and retaining staff increasingly hard. But don’t let the skills shortage get you down; here are some simple and inexpensive staff recruitment methods.

The focus of organisations on finding and retaining staff has greatly expanded over the past decade. This is partly in response to the high staff turnover that many organisations now face. The problem of increasingly high staff turnover can be attributed to employees and employers both becoming increasingly stretched. But how can this be allowed to happen?
Part of the problem is that business leaders are still not recognising the true cost of employment to their business, and not placing enough emphasis on what is popularly termed human capital management, which is often described as a strategic approach to people management. It is about managing people effectively and efficiently, understanding skills sets, attracting and retaining talent and looking to future recruitment needs.

Clear Communication

In business, ‘capital’ is acknowledged as a resource available for production and a company’s workforce is no different. However, unlike physical assets, human capital cannot be emulated. Considerations should be made for the emotional and social complexities of organisational workforces and employers should appreciate that employees can be influenced but not controlled. By communicating clear, actionable steps, or missions to employees while allowing them the flexibility to accomplish the missions as they see fit, they are more likely to release their own creativity and innovation.
All too often there is a break in the link between employer and employee and this implies a breakdown or lack of communication, which essentially comes from lack of clarity in a company’s employer brand strategy, if in fact it has one at all. Employer branding has been bandied about as a new approach over the past five years or so, but has only been taken seriously more recently with the ‘war for talent’ caused by skills shortages and fierce competition to recruit the best candidates. This has forced companies to look more closely at how they go about attracting and retaining the best staff.

Employer Branding

So, what is the current definition of employer branding? Put very simply, it is about becoming ‘the employer of choice,’ which means focusing on how potential employees feel about the organisation, what is important to employees and what are the deciding factors for choosing to work for a particular company.
It is not about investing in huge advertising budgets and brand image or promising more than employers can deliver. Rather, it is about behaving and being recognised as an exemplary employer, and that has to permeate throughout the fabric of an organisation to be credible and successful. 

Corporate Social Responsibility

Behaviour is the key word here, with the reputation of a business now less centred just on financial performance and market positioning, and increasingly being judged on its ethical values, including commitment to the environment, communities and an overall sense of social responsibility. Companies can no longer just pay lip service to this either, they are expected to ‘behave’ as responsible companies with direct action. 
Research has shown that candidates looking for a new job are placing significant importance on a company’s ethical values, so key to any employment brand has to be a clear communication and demonstration of the company’s belief system. Other priorities are good training and development opportunities, a healthy work/life balance and positive working environment. It will come as no surprise to hear that employees want an interesting and rewarding job. Developing organisational values and processes to support these priorities, supported by clear communication, sits at the core of the employer brand.

Standing Out From the Pack

On paper this all sounds quite straightforward but to develop a successful employer brand that attracts and retains a company’s ‘ideal’ employee is not easy. Like any other form of branding, it’s all about differentiation and being seen and heard above the competition. So, companies need to work very hard to identify what factors make them different as an employer and develop policies, behaviours, and communication that support that, within the context of the business and its overall vision and objectives.
Alarmingly, according to the International Workplace Survey, which surveyed HR and finance managers across Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan and the US, only 32 percent of organisations have a formal employer brand strategy. And whilst 20 percent are planning to implement one in the next two years, more than a third (35 percent) have no immediate plans to do so. These stark figures underline the fact that employer branding is being neglected or ignored and this is dangerous territory for any business.

Executive Branding

This leads on to another key consideration and a possible explanation for the relatively low awareness and adoption of employer branding. Where does employer branding start within an organisation? Who is responsible for developing and nurturing an employer brand? The answer to this seems confused and inconsistent both within organisations and in analysing trends across companies, and this is the principal reason why employer branding remains an enigma for many companies, large and small. 
Defining and living the employer brand has to come from the top, with chief executives and managing directors working with departmental heads and human resources to ensure that not only is the brand understood, but also communicated throughout the organisation and exemplified by the head of the business to achieve any real credibility. Modern business leaders are expected to publicly live and breathe the company they represent, and this is no less the case when looking at best practice in staff recruitment and retention.
Perhaps most importantly, leaders need to have a committed and infectious enthusiasm for their work. They need to show strong self-belief and energy, stretching their own limits and those of their team. Successes are something to be celebrated with enthusiasm in order to build on them. Leaders should also use this energy to inject an element of fun into the day-to-day running of the business, creating a dynamic and positive working environment.

Preparing Future Leaders

When developing future leaders, employee training should focus not just on training for the employee’s current position, rather it should revolve around positions one and two levels above. This will benefit both the individual and the organisation. This approach helps develop employees into future leaders by instilling a sense of confidence and pride in the individual. The employee not only feels rewarded and valued, but also becomes aware of the responsibilities, expectations and mentality required in higher level positions. This opens their minds up to the opportunities available for them to contribute at a higher level and allows them to gain a clear vision of the organisation’s overall missions, while providing the individual with the flexibility and ownership to do what is necessary to complete such missions.

Driving the Initiative

Employer branding is not an exact science, mainly because it has to extend to every corner of the company and permeate the very fabric of an organisation. So it’s not enough to hold the occasional employee workshop or annual employee satisfaction survey; these are just the very beginning of the process. It is up to business leaders to drive the initiative from the top down and that means having a very clear set of purpose from defining the ‘ideal’ employee through to creating measurable objectives and best practice across the organisation. Businesses all know that their most important asset is their people. This is nothing new, but it is high time that they begin to practice what they preach!

-Vince Pollaers manages McKinney Rogers’ (www.mckinneyrogers.com) Asia Pacific practice and is located in the Sydney office. He has held a number of board positions and is currently chair of the Advisory Board of the Australian Twin Registry, a research facility funded by the Australian Government.


What do you think?

    Be the first to comment

Add a new comment