The quest for talent

Businesses need to differentiate themselves from competitors if they’re to be successful in the quest for talented staff. The quest […]


Businesses need to differentiate themselves from competitors if they’re to be successful in the quest for talented staff.

The quest for talent is set to heat up and as businesses compete for staff, there are strategies managers can use to ensure that their businesses attract and retain good people.

Suzie Ward, senior consultant at specialist recruiter Agricultural Appointments, believes all businesses need to demonstrate their integrity to candidates and encourage employees to feel involved in the business.

“It’s very important to state your objectives very clearly and at all times be very honest with your communication,” she says.

Ward says businesses can do this by adopting a code of ethics that formalises honesty, transparency and work-life balance. She suggests the code covers areas such as a commitment by the employer to providing meaningful work, time for family and planned holidays, and ensuring that employees are heard and respected.

As well as competitive and realistic salaries, Ward says that job seekers are also looking for training and career development. “That‘s a really big issue for a lot of good candidates.”

Younger married people, in particular, seek the security of a career path and Ward often gets calls from people who feel they have to move because their job offers no progression. She recommends that employers consider different ways to retain younger employees and offer them incentives, such as retraining or the opportunity to learn another facet of the business.

Smaller firms can attract staff by saying no day is ever the same and that employees will learn every part of the business, but they need to follow through and show staff that they’ve allocated time to teaching and providing opportunities to learn a variety of tasks. “Employers have to have it worked out beforehand,” says Ward.

It may be a stretch for time-poor business owners to provide regular training but Ward says an alternative is to appoint mentors or buddies. This passes on skills while showing respect for older workers and giving them a new challenge. Although mentoring is more associated with larger businesses, Ward says there’s no reason that small business cannot offer it as well.

“It may well be a mentor from outside their business but someone who understands the business,” she says. “It may be someone who has retired but who knows the industry and who can come in and give a young person the confidence that they’re looking for.”

Ward says there’s a shortage of good people and businesses need to have a point of difference if they’re to be seen as an attractive employer.

National Mentoring Association of Australia has a list of groups around the country that are involved in mentoring.