So why are people so difficult to find and look after?
Angela Baron, organisation and resourcing advisor, CIPD
We have been experiencing a skills shortage quite recently and it has been
getting harder to find talented people. You’ll find that it does vary quite
considerably from sector to sector though, so some sectors are not finding it as
difficult as others. Some sectors are very popular such as the media for
So lots of employers are trying to build their image and build their brands
and be seen in the marketplace as being an employer of choice, someone who, if
you came to work for them, they’d treat you well and give you a good career.
Sometimes people struggle because money isn’t everything to quite a lot of
people and just throwing money at the issue isn’t necessarily going to be
People go to work for lots of different reasons. Feeling that they are valued
and feeling that they have a career within an organisation is sometimes stronger
than the financial side.
Lots of people are happy to say, ‘oh yeah the money is rubbish,’ if they are
unhappy with other factors of their job, but money is often a reason people give
when they leave. The key to retaining the best people is understanding and
managing those factors.
There is an awful lot of research activity going on at the moment about what
makes a good leader and it does come back to this whole area of the softer
Having the technical expertise is great, but good leaders are people who can
lead by example. People who can develop positive work place cultures where
people will grow and develop and where they can nurture other people’s talent.
Plus a good leader is someone who can spot the potential in others.
Are employers complacent in their approach to employees?
Richard Ashcroft, group FD, Harvey Nash plc
I believe that many organisations can do a lot more, in terms of the way that
they treat their employees, to make the working environment a place where people
like to come to work.
Because I believe that although money is important, it is not everything, it
is the other factors outside that are beyond money that are going to make the
difference and make companies either successful by attracting and retaining the
To me the most important thing and it is something that I learned from my
training as an executive coach, is about values. If the company has the right
values and those values are aligned with the values of the employees the
employees are more likely to stay. Examples of this would be, having a culture
of openness, transparency, honesty, fairness, things like that are important.
In one sense values are not absolute and I don’t think there is necessarily a
right or a wrong, there are many different values that one can adopt and it is
about different organisations having different values.
I think it is about deciding upon what the particular values of your
organisation are. People will naturally gravitate towards particular companies
where they feel that the values of the organisation are more closely aligned to
For example one value that is important to us anyway is also fun, work can’t
always be totally serious.
My experience of British companies is that they do not do enough to train and
develop their workforces. There has to be a realisation, that actually
investment and training and development pays itself back, many fold.
What can you do to improve your own management staff?
Alan Hewitt, partner at human capital management consulting,
We would actually work with companies to build their frameworks, their
skills, and competencies and then help them do assessment but that isn’t
appropriate for every company.
If you are in a smaller company, then yes I would look on the web, I would
look on CIPD and look at the role profiles they do and just get some samples,
and those will help you do a self assessment and it will be activity based. That
will help you see where you are positioned.
That will also help you develop activities. You do need help here, so
actually trying to find mentors and coaches, maybe via professions, is also very
It’s also very useful to have somebody outside your environment to talk this
stuff through. We would encourage companies to build their own internal coaching
mechanisms so that people in their community help each other.
You have to want to lead. I have advised people in the past to try and
differentiate between leadership and management and it always amazes me that
when we announce people in a leadership position by putting a person in that
position they suddenly become a leader.
I am interested in whether people adopt a coaching style to lead their
communities and whether they are giving a clear vision. Are they clear in their
own head of where they are going? Can they communicate that and enable their
teams to take them there?
I don’t care where you are starting from if you can differentiate those two
things and you really want to lead then I think that passion to want to lead is
probably the biggest factor.
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