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The battle for top talent has begun – here’s how businesses can win

Sam Clarke is the founder and CEO of Skynamo.

Sam Clarke is the founder and CEO of Skynamo.

Published May 26, 2022

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Skills shortages have been named as the eighth-largest risk facing South African businesses and the seventh-greatest risk worldwide.

South African businesses are competing with each other and many international businesses to hire and retain skilled workers. A number of employers look at the 35 percent and more unemployment rate and assume that staff don’t have any employment choices and that the competition isn’t fierce. For skilled workers, this is, however, not true.

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It has been reported that 60 percent of employees who left their jobs between April and October 2021 resigned due to low pay, a lack of opportunities for advancement and feeling disrespected at work.

People are now evaluating who they work for, and employers need to understand why current and potential employees would choose to work for them, and why they might not.

With this in mind, employers need to accept that their employees do in fact have a choice and with organisations on the hunt to scoop up skilled and experienced employees, both in South Africa and across the globe, the amount of choice is increasing.

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Remote working job opportunities from global companies have proliferated in the wake of the pandemic, giving top employees the ability to earn foreign currencies without the hassle of moving.

South African employers now need to provide something special and unique. They need to make deliberate decisions about their company’s culture to become an employer of choice.

And that means making trade-off decisions. For instance, do you want to have a company that’s 100 percent remote or one that fosters a sense of “family”? Just as employers have a preference, so do employees. By making the trade-off decision, employers are deciding which pool of employees to appeal to. After all, a business can’t be everything to everyone.

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Employers also need to offer employees a value proposition that goes beyond monetary remuneration. This could include being taken seriously and listened to, having the opportunity to explore their ideas and inherent skills, as well as being exposed to projects that are beyond what would normally be offered to somebody in a particular role.

People are capable of far more than employers may realise. So, trust, transparency and respect can help them feel more valued and in turn, they will be more willing to contribute above what is expected of them. These contributions may even be outside of their sphere of expertise. Essentially, this is the motivator of mastery and purpose.

Acknowledging that employees do have a choice can help employers to make the right decisions for their employees and organisation. Moreover, wouldn’t you want an employee to work for you out of choice rather than a lack of alternative options? In my experience, the best people are the ones with the most offers. If you’re not an employer of choice, you will only be able to employ people who have no other options.

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With 73 percent of employers saying they are having difficulty attracting employees and 63.3 percent of companies stating that retaining employees is actually harder than hiring them. Can you afford not to be an employer of choice?

Sam Clarke is the founder and CEO of Skynamo.

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