Building a Sustainable workforce in 2022…and beyond!

Higgo Blog Image    Transformation Tuesday (4)

I think we can all agree that the market for Transformation specialists has been overwhelming, relentless and intensely competitive, particularly within the last 18 months. So much focus has been put on creating cutting edge Products and on the continuous improvement of the overall experience of the customer that we have created a rat race for the best possible talent. There’s never been so many opportunities and there’s never been such a lack of supply to meet this persistent demand. As a result, I’m feeling the frustration from clients. We are all immersed in the talent marketplace hamster wheel, chasing our own tails, trying to fix long term problems with short term fixes; but how do we break the cycle and create a more sustainable workforce holistically across Australia?

The hamster wheel of the talent marketplace

For me, this feeling of frustration and need for haste can start to be alleviated with some effective Workforce Planning. It is something that so many of our clients talk idyllically about but very few put into active practice. For example, many organisations use contractors and consultants to bolster their workforce capability immediately, leaning on experienced specialists to drive towards successful business outcomes.

Typically contractors and consultants accommodate immediate, temporary gaps within the workforce. It has become obvious to me that clients needs have become more prolonged which doesn’t lend itself to this type of talent. ‘Borrowing’ and blending talent in this way is most effective when it’s exactly that – borrowed.

Accessing borrowed talent comes at a premium, especially when everyone else is seemingly doing much the same thing. This is causing what I like to call a hamster wheel effect, whereby everyone is looking for the same fundamental skills and experience with more prolonged needs but with rates being driven by the lack of supply – there is no end in sight. Day rate contractors who are Transformation specialists have never had it so good and they are definitely acutely aware of this.

When contract roles are in abundance and day rates are soaring – contracting looks far more enticing to candidate so it’s hard to attract and keep permanent talent without a plan and the unprepared clients are falling victim to these band aid solutions. In demand contractors can be compared to elite professional footballers, always knowing that they can get a better deal elsewhere. After all, if you’re receiving 5 calls per day then it’s pretty clear you are in demand, right? But for me, all this is doing across the market is pushing the ceiling higher and higher and it’s creating a market that is unsustainable across the board.

Could workforce planning play a role in supporting this recovery? Yes, but there’s more to it.

What is absolutely clear to us recruiters is that we need to be probing further into candidate’s drivers and their motivations, whilst also focusing more on people’s softer skills and whether they have the right attitude and potential to perform a role, rather than fitting a neat ‘cookie cutter’ approach.

This ’cookie cutter’ approach is simply blurring the market because it is meaning that day rates and salaries are constantly driving up and up, but surely this isn’t sustainable? The closed minded, reactive nature of this approach isn’t serving the market now.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

 

Transparency always wins

It’s no wonder our clients are tired, worn out and frustrated by this market.

Operating in this way is having a noticeable impact on culture – not only for our TA teams but existing employees. We have recently seen a situation whereby employees have caught wind of what their organisation is paying for external talent and there is major disparity. This has created disharmony as a result which can obviously have a detrimental effect. Retention is a priority and not being forthcoming with salaries will not help companies achieve this.

So what can we do?

In essence, we need to be taking a long-term approach to workforce planning otherwise we will continue to contribute to the relentless cycle of insanity we are finding ourselves in. There’s not one sure fire solution, it’s more about the equation to attack this from multiple angles.

Companies who are looking at succession planning and building talent are bridging gaps. Developing graduate talent and growing and nurturing more organic talent, focusing on learning and development and then bringing them through the organisation from the grassroots upwards.

Mobilising existing talent from elsewhere in the business is also part of developing talent. This is more relevant to permanent employees but can also be applied to existing contractors. Rather than ramping up whilst also leaking contractors, tracking the talent you have and moving people around with more fluidity will see people move into roles where they feel challenged and fulfilled so it’s a win-win.

Attracting talent from oversees is also key now that the borders are open. As a UK migrant myself, I don’t often have any issues selling the Australian dream. It’s fair to say the current market conditions have been exacerbated by the borders being shut. Now as the world reopens we should start to see more appetite month on month from overseas candidates to relocate here. We will keep you posted on our research in this space.

Let’s start thinking more long term and placing an importance on effective workforce planning and the needs of our people to help to create a more sustainable workforce for everyone This will not happen overnight, but if organisations start to embed some of these key principles I am sure that we can stop losing sleep at night, bring more purpose to people’s work lives and be more successful in attracting and retaining the right people for the right jobs.

If you want to discuss this further, reach out to me - adam.higgins@talenza.com.au