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How to win the war on talent

Ian Symes, Executive Vice President, Europe & General Manager, UK at Right Management.
talent

We’re used to hearing about growing opportunities for modern businesses, but it’s time we also paid attention to the rising number of challenges these businesses face trying to keep ahead of their competitors. Article by Ian Symes, Executive Vice President, Europe & General Manager, UK at Right Management.

Regardless of industry, marketplaces are continuing to become more digital, which also means they are becoming more global. You could forgive decision makers smiling at the prospect of borders dropping and lines on the map quickly fading away, but this extended reach in the market doesn’t just mean more potential customers for their business, it means more rivals too.

Spoilt for choice by an ever-widening range of technology designed for instant business impact, fierce competition could emerge from anywhere at any given moment.

It wasn’t always this way. Many of the Fortune 500 companies we recognise today took decades to reach their status and valuation, but many others have got there in five years or less. Tesla, for example was worth $1bn within five years. Airbnb reached the same figure in just four.

The major reason why many of these companies disrupt so quickly isn’t just because of the technology they have at their disposal. The secret to remaining competitive lies with a company’s people.

Battling for the future
It’s not a secret well-kept. Particularly in the tech and financial industry, beleaguered by a substantial STEM skills gap, there is a fierce war for talent underway. Companies everywhere are fighting hard to secure the services of people they believe are the most talented, skilled and motivated fit for their business, hoping these people can be the difference between great success and total stagnation.

The motives behind these battles are understandable. Business is now incredibly fast-paced and the long-term picture of what a 21st century company should look like feels as though it’s shifting all the time. Particularly for businesses in the UK, where the unpredictable shadow of Brexit looms large, it’s becoming harder for decision makers to plan for the future and anticipate what specialisms and skills they’ll need for their company to thrive. Flexibility and agility has become more important than ever, but having the right people in the right roles is becoming more challenging to address.

Looking ‘closer to home’
The major mistake many companies are making is assuming that their search must be purely external because their current staff can only be defined by their active skill set. This could not be further from the truth, and deprives businesses from making the most of the people they already have. What’s more, ‘pigeon-holing’ current staff in this way may see them become restless from lack of variety or opportunity to upskill. Our latest research found that one in five people are in the wrong role, undertaking responsibilities that they are not motivated by or productive in.

Companies must ensure that they have a deep understanding of each individual’s capabilities, their potential, and what we define as “learnability” – a person’s capacity for re-training or adapting to new skills. Not only can this be the key to locating what they need without having to look beyond the office door, it also prevents talented staff from getting itchy feet at critical moments in a company’s growth.

But this kind of in-depth evaluation is easier said than done, and this is where consultancies with expertise, insight and global reach representative of today’s borderless business world can help.

Finding the right roles for the right people
At Right Management, we work with businesses looking to win their battle for talent by helping them place the talent they already have into the right places, whether that’s up, across or even out of their organisation. Using psychometric assessments, cognitive ability tests, virtual learning modules, real-time online business simulations and more, we help businesses accurately determine their employees’ capabilities and potential, ensuring they have a clearer indication of how to make best use of their ability for the company. The results benefit both parties in equal measure: businesses find what they need to drive desired business outcomes, employees are given the appropriate mentorship and support they need for their career progression.

People will always be the most important aspect of any company, so any decision made on how to train, upskill or support staff in their next chapter needs to be informed and based on logical insight. This level of employee evaluation is also critical to retaining the best talent your company has. Regular career conversations with staff that prioritise their career goals can make them feel valued and far more likely to remain invested in working for your business. The worst that can happen for businesses looking to stay one step ahead of the war on talent is to lose the best they have to savvier industry competitors.

In today’s challenging, competitive and fast-paced business environment, decision makers have a lot to watch out for. Flexibility and agility are king, and the people working for them are fundamental to these goals. The war on talent will continue to be tough. But by consistently ensuring that the right talent are in the right places, and taking the time to really evaluate every individual before looking elsewhere, progress will never be far away.