Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  26 Nov 2009

BUSINESS: Skills Retention is Vital


Recent Gauteng Business News

This past year has seen a noticeable shift in how companies view talent and skilled professionals according to the results obtained from Deloitte’s ‘Best Company to Work For’ survey.

Deloitte Human Capital director David Conradie speaking at the Deloitte Best Company to Work For Conference, says that there has been a distinct mindshift change regarding talented professionals across the board, but with varying degrees across industries who took part in the survey.

Some of the companies who took part in the survey recorded their best performance year in the history of South Africa, while other companies experienced the worst year of their company’s existence owing the global economic downturn. Most companies are facing dramatically different business challenges than the challenges they had encountered during the previous decade. The emerging business imperative is long-term sustainability of the enterprise. At the same time, business leaders are worried about the scarce supply of critical employees, and how to develop and retain the talent they have.
He predicts that from here on, a lot of challenges and changes will emerge in the years ahead.

“In a crisis we are faced with danger and opportunities. A lot of companies have curtailed any spend when it comes to staff development, while others see it as the best possible time to invest. These companies believe that once the market turns, the talent they have invested in will provide the best outcome and performance boost within an economic upturn,” he notes “The retention of these high potential employees will buoy the company through the tough times.”

Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly MD Jacques Blaauw agrees, adding that if a business does not invest in human capital, a company risks being faced with significant challenges.

“It is all about supply. Ever since 2006, the country fell into a war for talent and the demands set upon industry are changing the way people look at leisure, work and education,” he adds.

Conradie explains that if companies look after their staff during bad times, the staff will remember it during the good times. “Even when the economy is tight, critical professional talent always have options and continually assess the attractiveness of their companies relative to other prospects.”

A growing number of South African organisations have successfully differentiated themselves from their competitors by developing strong employer brand eminence.

Claiming to be an employer of choice is one thing but, being recognised as an employer of choice is entirely dependent upon the extent to which the overall employment experience of employees supports this.

Companies, therefore, need to focus on delivering consistently against the employee value propositions by actively soliciting employee feedback on how well they are doing in this regard and introduce changes where necessary.

Quoting Warren Buffett, Conradie says, “When the tide goes out, we find out who has been swimming without a bathing suit.”

Rather than run the risk of losing talent while waiting for an upturn in the business cycle, some companies use economic downturns to upgrade their talent to optimise their business potential.

Blaauw suggests that it is important that employers understand what their employees see and feel. Employees should be given the chance to speak their minds, while employers should actively listen and respond.

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