According to KPMG’s 2022 edition of their ‘Keeping us up at night’ survey, the number one challenge currently keeping business leaders awake is ‘talent acquisition, retention and re/upskilling to meet a more digitised future.” I wasn’t surprised to read this, it’s a topic of conversation that comes up regularly with business owners with the pandemic exacerbating staff shortages and skills gaps for many.

So how to do you attract people to come and work for your business and stop your talent from being enticed away to work for someone else (or not at all)? How do you re-attract people who have left your industry, attract new people into your sector, and re-engage your existing staff?

Here are ten ideas to get you thinking:

1.Support their development, offer training courses, or annual budgets to put towards training they wish to undertake externally, offer mentoring (internal and external, formal and informal), coaching opportunities and career progression paths.

2.Provide flexibility, do they want to work from home all the time, two days a week, one day a fortnight or not at all? According to a Qualtrics survey, 51% of Australians say they would stay longer with their employer if the remote working policies introduced during the pandemic remained permanent and 12% said they would probably quit their job if they were forced back to the office full time.

But the key is flexibility to suit the individual. Whilst 71% of 1,000 full-time employees interviewed across Australian and New Zealand wanted to split their working week across remote and on-site, individual contributors wanted to return to the office permanently more than managers and business leaders. Twenty-two percent of individual contributors said they never want to work remotely.

When thinking about flexibility, don’t overlook part-time and job share if this works for the role and the employee.

3. Look to the regions. According to the ABS in the March 2021 quarter there was a net loss of 11,800 people from Australian capital cities through internal migration. If the role can be done remotely, why not take advantage of the talented and skilled individuals living in regional towns, whether it be those that have lived there all their lives, or people making a sea/tree change. Allowing people to balance their lifestyle and work in a place they want to live is a win-win. And in the above-mentioned survey, 77% of respondents believed it was important their employment allowed them to live anywhere when looking for a new role.

Can your business support workers remotely full time? If so, then this reveals a wide range of people who could be enticed to work for your business, whether it’s from their home, or (if you provide them with a budget) set up in one of the regional co-working spaces popping up in many country towns.

4. Reward staff with the things that don’t cost your business that much but mean the world to them, for example, a day off for their birthday, one day off a quarter to volunteer with a charity of their choice, a company-wide day off (or staggered days if company-wide is impossible) per quarter to get out in the fresh air (‘Fresh Air Fridays’), bring your child, or dog, to work days. What about hand-written notes of thanks from management, or a card on their work anniversary?

Not all rewards need to be “things”, neuroscience shows us that “social” rewards are equally as important, and often more important, than money. 

5. Celebrate together – whether it’s for meeting company targets, finished projects, winning new clients, getting a great write up in an industry publication. These don’t need to be extravagant affairs, they could be cake for morning tea, bring a plate lunches or drinks in the boardroom.

6. Provide common goals – share your company’s vision, goals and aspirations. Why are they there, why does the company exist? What’s their purpose? Bring your staff along with you, track the wins and celebrate together (see above). Perhaps even introduce some friendly cross department competitions.

Do you have a company culture page on your website? If not, adding this page is a way to provide potential recruits with an insight into your working culture, the people in your organisation, your values and your mission. A good culture page not only creates a positive first impression but also helps to attract people who share the same ideals and standards and will be a good fit for your workplace.

7. Give them a say, hold monthly/quarterly town-halls where everyone can, safely, ask questions, you could even highlight a department or role each quarter where an employee can get up and talk about what they/their department does and why it’s important.

Provide the facility for staff to thank colleagues for their work and support (perhaps an employee recognition app, monthly kudos nominations, wall of fame). Even better, ask your staff how they’d like to be recognised.

8. Ensure your workplace as a safe space (physically and emotionally). How are people encouraged to raise concerns? Is action taken? Do they have a regular one on one with a senior person they trust where they can raise worries, and suggestions, without fear of recrimination?

9. Remember skills are transferrable from one sector to another, for example someone with a high aptitude for customer service in one industry can utilise those skills in a new industry. They may need extra training on the product or service, but if the key criteria is a strong customer service focus, then they’re streets ahead of someone who knows the product but doesn’t have a talent for dealing with people.

10. Review what you’re asking for, does the job advertisement clearly communicate what you are looking for? Does it ask for too much? Too little, too specific or not paying enough for the role? Does the ad create a positive impression about your company? Is it selling your company as a great place to work?


Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash