Human Capital And The War For Talent

It is clear from experience, as well as the vast amounts of information available to employers that the demographics of the global workforce are changing. Patterns of migration, issues of diversity and social or educational development are presenting employers the world over with an increasingly difficult and important challenge – where their talent will come from in the future.

An advantage in the recruitment market

In 2008 a large proportion of ‘baby boomers’ are set to retire, and according to large consultancies like Deloitte and BearingPoint, there will be fewer graduates with the ‘right critical skills entering the market’ who can act as ‘ready replacements’ for those skilled and experienced employees leaving the market. This ensures the war for talent continues to rage as companies compete for the right Human Capital asset to give them the advantage in their market.

In a bid to win the war for talent, companies are increasingly developing more creative employer brands, talent acquisition strategies and retention plans. They are looking at a broader spectrum of factors, other than just salary and security, to attract people into their business and to keep them there. Those entering the employment market are no longer looking for that ‘job for life’, nor are they necessarily motivated by pay alone. This places factors like Corporate and Social Responsibility, flexible working, personal development and total reward much higher up on the agenda.

Not bad for a McJob

One high profile example of a corporation tackling their employer brand head-on is McDonald’s, who rely on a steady supply of Human Capital to give their business and their brand life. After the term ‘McJob’ appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary, being described as having low pay and poor prospects, McDonald’s responded in 2006 with the challenging ‘Not bad for a McJob’ campaign.

The McDonald’s fight-back campaign featured posters including examples of health policies, flexible working hours and prospects for promotion, with the objective of improving their public image as an employer of choice and ensuring their employees felt ‘McRespected’ and ‘McValued’.

McDonald’s represents an extreme example, but other companies across the world dedicate much time and resource to winning coveted places in top employer listings, such as the ‘Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to Work For’ in the UK and the ’50 Best Employers to work for’ in Canada. And, according to Sheffield University, it’s a case of ‘Who Cares Wins’ in today’s job market.

Now and into the future

Which organizations continue to win the war for talent will be based on many factors, and the demographics of the global work force aren’t going to stand still while businesses try and catch up. This makes having a transparent, consistent and strong employer brand essential, because it allows employers to align their talent acquisition and retention strategies to their corporate values. It also allows companies to project into the market a clear image of themselves, which a potential employee can buy-in to.

Whether it’s encouraging the aging workforce to remain motivated and continue working, whether it’s making the differentiation between themselves and the competition clearer to the smaller pool of Human Capital that do have the skills and abilities needed, or whether it’s continuing to drive a volume of employees into specific market sectors – strong recruitment campaigns, imaginative retention strategies, employee engagement initiatives, flexible benefits and work/life balance can be key ingredients in attracting and retaining talent now and into the future.

With BA and MBA, Penny’s background includes corporate marketing, executive development and consultancy in business to business service environments. Prior to joining Ceridian, she was CEO of the Institute of Management in Auckland, New Zealand. She also headed up the Lifeworks business as MD of Ceridian Performance Partners for 4 years before joining the UK Board of Ceridian.