The future of work- A new approach to talent attraction and retention

January 09, 2024

The reality is that two years into the cost-of-living crisis, with interest rates having increased at 10 consecutive ECB meetings, there remains 30% more job vacancies in Ireland than anytime pre COVID-19. With an unemployment rate of just 4.8% Ireland is, like most of the developed world, at full employment making both recruitment and retention difficult.

For individuals, it is undoubtedly a sellers' market. Anyone with the 'right' skill and the 'right' attitude is in demand.

For businesses, the problem is acute: fundamentally anyone you want to hire is likely to already be employed (or require development and/or relocation); skill shortages are such that other businesses are very likely trying to hire the exact same talent you are and, given a choice - simply why would they choose to work for you?

To be successful in attracting and retaining the talent that business needs to operate, many turn their focus to compensation. Pay is of course important, but it is never sufficient. Research suggests that that 80% of employees who resign, but then stay after accepting a counteroffer, still leave within 6 months. Pay was an issue, but it was not the underlying issue. Focusing on pay makes work a transaction, but humans crave far more than this, we crave interaction. Look beyond the headlines discussing strikes and the demands are about far more than 'just' pay. A focus on compensation is also unsustainable; no business can ever win on pay alone as there will always be someone, somewhere, willing to pay more than you.

To be sustainable you need to also focus on the other five C's:

Community- is about being able to be your authentic self at work. Being welcomed, accepted, and valued for who you are, in essence it is the feeling that you belong. The opportunity and potential this offers is often overlooked - according to McKinsey 51% of employees resign as they do not feel that they belong. You need to create a sense of belonging for your people, where each can be their true authentic selves without fear of repercussion. Business leaders need to foster an environment where difference is seen as a strength to be embraced.

Career- One of the main reasons people change jobs is to grow. However, according to the HR­ guru Josh Bersin, only 11% of companies offer formal career programs for employees.

Demonstrate to people how you will develop them, what they will learn if they join you and the 'masters' in your business that they could learn from. When hiring do you honestly know what skills and capabilities predict success in the role and which of them are innate or which could be trained? Work out what is really a non-negotiable and what is not and develop people accordingly.

Cause - hopefully all your people know what they should be doing. Hopefully they all know how to do it. But do they know WHY they are doing it? Help everyone find their golden thread and demonstrate how each element of their job all ties together into your organisation's purpose. You should be able to do this. After all, if someone is performing a task that cannot be tied to your organisation's purpose then why are they doing it?

Culture - Culture is like mist. It is there, but it is hard to pin down. It is also very important. A toxic culture is ten times more important than pay in predicting staff turnover. Do you honestly know what you are, what you stand for and, as importantly, what you are not and what you are willing to sacrifice to achieve your goals? Bring to life in an honest and real way the good and bad bits of working for you, show how you live you values and how they make a difference in the way you do things. Demonstrate how your policies and procedures reinforce what you say you are and how you want to be. In all this, show don't tell - use storytelling as proof points to bring the reality of working for you to life.

Company- is about how you structure work so you can better appeal to the needs and desires of the people who work for you. As an example - nurses prefer to work four, twelve hour shifts rather than six, eight-hour ones - what do your people prefer? What can you offer that your people would value but which does not cost you so much money? Can you use your spending power to buy things in bulk and pass savings onto your people? This can get quite granular, but have you asked?

In 2016, The World Economic Forum said that 'Business will need to put talent development front and centre to their growth.' This needs an update. In today's world, 'Business MUST put talent development front and centre if they want to survive." Talent shortages are a very real threat, and the reality is that we are facing a talent migration - a migration of talent from businesses who do not develop, create meaning, create community... to ones that do. Get it right and your business will become a talent magnet where people want to work. Fail to focus on your end-to-end talent strategy and you may well face the prospect of suffering the death of a 1,000 resignations as your people migrate elsewhere.

Focus on the six C's and create a business where people want to work and do their best work each and every day.


Russell Beck

Director of Inspiration - lmagineThinkDo Ltd

The World of Work to 2030: A practical guide to future-proofing your business and your career available for pre-order now.