The War For Talent Goes Cultural


Three weeks in and already it’s the year of [alleged] illicit parties and the Chinese ‘James Bond’ (who turned out to be a 58-yr old female solicitor).

It’s also the start of the most candidate-driven market place I’ve seen in 25 years, with more people working than ever and more job vacancies than job seekers. Staggering when you consider it is less than 18 months since some ‘analysts’ were predicting unemployment figures of 9m.

Employers are having to battle with more competition than ever before to attract and recruit the best talent. The best candidates in the market are in high demand, most having multiple opportunities, meaning unless you have a great employment proposition, you are going to lose out.

The most affected are employers with ‘open jobs’ targeting solely ‘open candidates’ – those roles being advertised by internal recruitment teams or fulfilled by external database-led recruiters, both only able to attract those people actively job-seeking. Research suggests this only makes up 15-18% of those people open to a new career opportunity, missing out on up to 85% of the talent available – furthermore, in a candidate-driven market, the best talent almost never needs to actively look for a new role.

The Search industry combats that – we headhunt, typically targeting passive talent, those execs and rising stars that have not yet even thought about their next move, let alone done anything about it. If classic database recruiters can hit 15% of the market, we can reach 100%….and it means you get to look for the talent you want, rather than hoping they jlook for you.

But businesses still have to refresh their proposition as an employer of choice, and crucially perfect how that proposition is presented; the un-baited hook is unlikely to get the first bite.

The culture of your business is without question a bigger pull than ever before. The ‘Gordon Gecko’/Jordan Belfort 1980s boiler room mentality has well passed, but it hasn’t been replaced with the overtly-passive/’woke’ environment many predicted. Instead the optimum cultures mirror the recruitment process – all centring around mutual, 2-way benefit between employer and employee.

Leadership buzz words such as authentic, open, honest might be all the rage, but they boil down to the same thing – respect and common sense. Employees expect and want their employers to be successful, to be profitable; but they expect and want their employees to give them a seat on that journey. 

Culture is always subjective. The best culture for one person, may not be the optimum culture for the next. LinkedIn have just released their ‘2022 Global Talent Trends’ report, giving huge insight into the employee/employer relationship as we begin to consider the post-pandemic world. It shows how business cultures are evolving, placing employees front and central, ensuring the best chance of attracting, retaining and development prime talent.

The three key areas highlighted were:

  • Flexibility
  • Wellbeing
  • Reshuffling

Flexibility – ‘One Size Fits All’ is unlikely to fit anyone

Employees now crave flexibility in where, when and how they work. The smarter businesses are using a ‘carrot not stick’ approach to repopulating their office buildings whilst ensuring a truly equitable experience for all employees irrespective of where/when/how they work. A client of mine has invested £2m on their office building, ensuring both a physically attractive workspace, but also an environment that provides total safety and comfort regardless of environmental/pandemic concerns.

If intangible benefits aren’t strong enough, the report highlights a 35% increase in engagement for jobs offering flexibility; our own survey showing that over 60% of employees would consider moving jobs to retain flexible working.

Wellbeing – Mindful engagement over midnight oil

Burnout might have been a badge of honour in the red braces/red Porsche bonus-rich 1980s, but fostering a culture the prioritises Mental, Physical and Emotional wellbeing is more attractive to targeted talent than the premium offering of a company car list or the latest efficiency-focused technology. Small initiatives from enforced time away from a screen, fresh environments & healthy food offerings right through to facilitated and encouraged wellbeing sessions, meditation, fitness initiatives are all have a disproportionately positive effect on employee health, and therefore the working environment.

28% of Gen-X value wellbeing investment…66% of Gen-Z do.  There is your future.

Reshuffling – Better Life = Better Work = Better Life

The pandemic has given everyone the opportunity to question what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. Microsoft’s 2021 survey showed over 40% of global workers were considering leaving their current role to seek an environment where they felt more valued.

From businesses adopting a social conscience to employees focused not on work/life balance, but work/life blend….the desire to maximise both. Employers creating a culture of collaboration and engagement, both internally and externally, are quickly seeing the benefit in the quality of shortlists for positions of any level.

The full report is available HERE.

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