In March of 2022, we brought together over 50 Alberta business leaders and asked them what the specific challenges were in finding and retaining great employees.

Talent Competition March Workshop2

Here’s what they said:

  • Talent shortages are everywhere, with some industries being hit harder than others. IT, (Cyber Security), Project Management and the trades seem to be some most difficult roles to fill right now. 
  • Due this shortage, many leaders are losing qualified candidates part way through the recruiting process. There is a tension between wanting to follow their proven interview steps and speed. 
  • Some candidates seem to be testing the market, interviewing with other companies simply to use these opportunities to negotiate with their current employers. 
  • In the current environment, many leaders are looking to other locales for talent which forces interviewing to be done remotely. Candidates are being considered from places like the Middle East and India for roles in western Canada right now. 

Attracting and Keeping Top Talent 

Talent Competition March Workshop JWWith our own Jeffrey White leading the discussion, we turned to the topic of how we can win this talent competition. There was strong agreement with John Spence that top talent is looking for the following from their employers: 

  1. Fair Pay – great employees what to know that they are being paid fairly for their roles. This translates to plus or minus 10% of market average for the role in their geography. 
  2. Winning Culture – top performers want to work in a place they feel safe, respected, and aligned with their coworkers.
  3. Purposeful and Meaningful Work – the best people want to work for more than just a paycheque. They are looking for a place where their efforts can apply to a higher purpose, a meaningful mission to make the world better. Dan Pink argues that motivation requires purpose, mastery and autonomy. 
  4. Cool Coworkers – the work of Gallup that began in the early 2000s unlocked the secrets of employee engagement. The research found that among other things, high engagement correlated with employees who were able to build real friendships at work. This happens only if there is values alignment and time spent on ‘non-work’ interactions. 
  5. Growth – millennials and the following generations of workers are making up an increasing proportion of the labor force. By 2030, they will account for over 30%. And studies have shown that they prioritize growth when choosing an employer. Growth has two facets – the opportunity to acquire new skills AND the opportunity to take on more responsibilities typically through promotion. 
  6. Boss I Respect – the Gallup research also found that the relationship between an employee and their immediate supervisor trumps their relationship with the company. Thus, the phrase, “people don’t leave companies, they leave bosses.” 

With these needs in mind, what is the equation for leaders going forward? 

  • Leaders need to prioritize finding and developing talent. They need to spend as much time (or more) attracting and keeping great employees than they do attracting and keeping customers. 
  • Talent Mapping should be undertaken regularly to identify gaps and roles at risk, as well as growth opportunities for every employee. 
  • People Management processes must be fine-tuned, streamlined, and optimized, and they must be used consistently throughout the organization. 
  • Investment in training and management development are now table stakes – every organization needs to take development seriously, especially for existing and potential leaders. 

Competing for talent is here to stay. There is no quick fix or silver bullets. Investing time and effort in the talent game is an imperative for all leaders, and the time to start is now 

If you’d like to learn more about how to build a high-performance company, or other ways you can take the simpler path to creating a great business, connect with us.