How can businesses win the talent challenge?

It should be no surprise that identifying, recruiting and retaining the right talent is one of the main concerns for business leaders across the board. After all, given the pace of technological advances, and the need for businesses to be able to respond and react to economic uncertainty and change, a workforce that is skilled, engaged and adaptable is an essential for any business looking to maintain successful growth.

That message has come across loud and clear in the Inside the Minds of Business Leaders report 2019 published by Price Bailey, which researched over 400 business leaders from across East Anglia and London and highlighted, once again, the issue which also came up in the previous 2017 report. Two-thirds of business leaders (66%) point to recruiting managers as the most challenging aspect of finding and keeping staff with the right skills, with 60% also finding it a struggle to recruit staff.


How do businesses look to attract and retain new talent?

However, what is more surprising – and perhaps more worrying – is the way businesses are choosing to respond to that challenge. When it comes to attracting and retaining new talent, 74% of business leaders said they looked to offer better terms and conditions, while 57% give employees a say in how they work, 56% offer a career path, and 55% offer higher pay. Less than half (46%) saw training as a way to find and keep the right people.

The reluctance to invest in training, along with an apparently ambivalent attitude towards increasing wages, seems to contradict the importance that many of these same businesses place on skills, retention and training. Instead, many more of them choose to go for the relatively low-cost option of improving working conditions.

While this is no doubt still a popular move with employees and is likely to see improved results when it comes to retention, it also suggests that the lack of focus on training could leave businesses unable to shape their workforce with the skills they need for the future.

How do high and low-growth firms differ when it comes to their attitude towards talent?

That differing emphasis on skills is even more telling when comparing the actions of high and low-growth firms. The Inside the Minds report found that those businesses with higher growth recognise the challenge of up-skilling staff to a greater extent than those with lower growth. They understand better the benefits of a more skilled workforce – with staff who are more engaged, more productive and more willing to stick around.

High-growth firms are also more likely to engage with their employees in the search for new ideas. The results show that while 61% of high-growth firms turn to formal internal strategy days as a source of innovation, fewer than half of the low-growth businesses (49%) seek inspiration from employees in the same way.

So while there’s no doubt that identifying, recruiting and retaining the best staff with the right skills is a challenge – and may have been for some time – it’s one that, with the right approach, can be overcome by all businesses. By balancing up the relatively cheap and fast fixes, such as improving working conditions, with longer-term plans to invest in staff training, wages and employee engagement, businesses stand a much better chance of winning the talent challenge.

This post was written by Howard Sears, Partner at Price Bailey. If you would like more information on this article, please contact Howard using the form below.

We always recommend that you seek advice from a suitably qualified adviser before taking any action. The information in this article only serves as a guide and no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of this material can be accepted by the authors or the firm.


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