Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Treading the talent tightrope

August 18, 2017

The business of attracting and retaining top talent for your business

Talent. Britain’s got it. The X-Factor has it. We just have to ask Simon Cowell, apparently. Unfortunately, Syco isn’t always on hand (or within budget) for your latest enterprise talent contest. In today’s fast-paced, ever-shifting and ultra-competitive market to recruit the candidate crem da la crem, it’s important for the UK’s medium-sized businesses to understand what the talent landscape is today – and to prepare for it tomorrow.

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, SMEs accounted for 99.9% of all private sector businesses at the start of 2016, employing 15.7 million people and with a combined annual turnover of £1.8 trillion. That’s 47% of all private sector turnover in the UK, accounting for at least 99% of the businesses in every main industry sector. Yikes!

Bottom line: the UK needs growing companies as they form the buttress of the UK economy.  Continuing success will be crucial to the stability of our economy, keeping the employment market buoyant and closing the UK productivity gap that sees us trailing 16% behind the other six members of the G7 nations, most notably a whopping 27% behind our German counterparts. Something must make significant steps to address, particularly (dare we even utter the B-word!) post-Brexit. Now, more than ever, in our digitally-driven world and economy, we must understand the skills we need and how to both get and keep them to navigate our businesses to success.

The talent tightrope

All businesses depend on skilled, accomplished and motivated employees to succeed.

Yet, for many rapidly-growing medium-sized organisations, finding staff with the right skillset is a perpetual pain. And without the right people, you will quickly see a decline in progress.  One of the central issues is that the current job market (even with a degree of political and economic uncertainty) is jalapeno hot.

Not just your average Nandos peri-peri, no. Today’s applicants have a huge amount of choice when it comes to new roles. Competition for the brightest minds in an industry (at every stage of the career funnel) remains intense. Talent mobility is continuing to increase. Companies find themselves walking the talent tightrope against such a competitive labour backdrop.

Getting ahead in the talent race

To attract and retain high performing knowledge workers, businesses have to offer them something the competition is not. Research shows, when organisations choose the right candidates, and treat them well, they not only work efficiently but also stay longer. So, it’s paramount to have a strategic culture and technology landscape that enables work to just get done – wherever, whenever.

Salary expectations are at an all-time high. Great! Just have an excellent remuneration package and job done! Well, actually no. You’re unlikely to be successful basing recruitment merely on money. Firstly, look beyond pay. Consider the following to ensure you have the tools, resources, operations and services to attract, retain and grow top performers across the whole spectrum of your company:

  1. Get the candidate experience right:

Have a simple application process across all devices – including mobile. Build a swift, informative interviewing and on-boarding process so that people don’t drop out. Use tools that enable you to interview remotely such as video so those who can’t travel aren’t immediately excluded.

  1. Have an attractive, modern workspace:

When Steve Jobs became the CEO of Pixar, he put an end to the established protocol of separating employees by discipline, stating: ‘If a building doesn’t encourage collaboration, you’ll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that’s sparked by serendipity’. And let’s face it, he knew a thing or two about how to innovate. Ultimately, we are all products of our environments. So, it stands to reason the productivity of those environments too. Design to accommodate all workplace preferences, with lively areas for collaboration and quiet areas for thoughtful tasks.

  1. Get flexible:

UK business culture is reflecting the global trend moving towards flexible, remote and mobile working. Digital transformation means work is ever more something you do, rather than somewhere you go. Enabling a more diverse, agile and inclusive location-independent workforce from Yorkshire to Yeovil. Helping employees achieve a better work-life balance along the way. Younger talent in the form of millennials – and now their juniors, Generation Z – are digital natives who expect to use a variety of mobile devices, working effectively in or out of the office any time. Working parents, grandparents, the semi-retired and those caring for elderly, disabled or unwell relatives, are all also seeking flexible working arrangements. Each of these demographics will be looking to join or leave you based on how work fits with them.

  1. Tune into tech:

Having the latest technology and innovative projects for your people will give you a competitive advantage over those who don’t provide the same. Embracing technology and innovation helps to boost revenue, employee engagement, productivity – and ensures your company is not left behind by technological change in a digital economy.

  1. Create a happy workplace culture:

It’s not just about corporate perks. Undervalued employees leave. People, particularly younger recruits, want to feel valued by their employer. And motivated people are more productive. Provide attractive training and development opportunities for employees to learn and grow to stand out and avoid high staff churn rates. Fostering diversity, ethical conduct, good governance and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are the foundations for a good workplace culture when it comes to attracting and retaining talent for the long-haul.

No more eat, sleep, work, repeat.

The world isn’t quite like that anymore. Employees are looking to be happy and fulfilled in their work. The days of simply ‘punching in and zoning out’ are over. Still, understanding today’s competitive candidate climate means you can still increase your competitive advantage and attract and retain the skills you need. Now I don’t know about the X-Factor but that sounds like top talent to me.

Find out how you can start solving this business challenge today


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