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The War For Talent & The Importance of Company Culture

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

The term ‘War for Talent’ was coined in 1997 by Steven Hankin of American management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. He used the phrase to describe the increasingly competitive recruitment landscape and how difficult it was becoming for employers to retain talented employees. Twenty-three years later, the fight has only gotten harder.

As we move into a new decade, business owners don’t just want people working for them, they want the very best people working for them. Meanwhile, those people aren’t simply looking for a pay check at the end of the month. In 2020, we want so much more.

Back in October, Forbes released ‘The World’s Best Employers 2019 List’. It was compiled, according to the article, by teaming up with database company Statista. Together they contacted employees around the world to, ‘rate their own employer and the likelihood that they would recommend this employer to a friend or family member.’ Alphabet (Google’s parent company) claimed the number one spot, followed by Microsoft and Red Hat. So, let’s take a look at what these companies are promising potential hires.

Alphabet are searching for people with new ideas who will work hard to make them become a reality. In return they offer freedom to grow, support and cross-company communication.

Microsoft have entire web pages dedicated to benefits, culture and diversity and inclusion. Employees can take advantage of healthcare, flexible work schedules, education resources, discounts and money saving options. Meanwhile, the company’s culture tagline is ‘Stronger together’.

Lastly Red Hat, the American multinational software company, just like the former, have also dedicated a large section of their careers website to selling themselves to possible future employees. Life at Red Hat, reads the site, is ‘full of opportunities to have a meaningful, tangible impact,’ on work that feels important, ‘because it is.’

The workplace in Ireland has changed dramatically over the last forty years. There was once a time where people went to work in return for pay. The transaction was that simple. The considerations when choosing a role would have included salary, hours required and location. Nowadays, that list is a lot longer. The working community have since woken up to the idea that spending a minimum of forty-five hours per week as an employee invites them to demand more from their workplace. Don’t just pay me in return for my labour. Help me to develop, educate me, be flexible with me, look after my health, feed me and in some cases, extend these benefits to my family members. And because companies are hungry for the best, the above now comes as standard in most contracts and plays a heavy role in this so-called ‘war for talent’.

There are lots of reasons for this workplace evolution. Most obviously, Ireland is now a country that attracts global conglomerates and multinational tech companies to set up base here, thanks to our low corporate tax rates. Dublin alone is home to European headquarters for Facebook, Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Airbnb, PayPal, Twitter and eBay to name but a few. These big companies come to town with their forward-thinking offerings and packages, showing the Irish workforce what they could be earning and benefiting from and thus pressurising other businesses to do the same. Millennials and Gen Z have hardly known it any other way.

Company culture is a relatively new term. One the baby boomers and Gen X weren’t considering when applying for roles in their day. However, in 2020 workplace culture is more important than ever, but what does it mean?

The culture of a company most simply refers to the personality of a company. Outside of the requirements of one’s role, it defines the environment in which people work every day. This covers companies’ values and belief systems, ethics, goals, expectations and mission statements. A handy tip for figuring out if you’re best suited to a company, and if they’re best suited to you, is to search for their mission statement ahead of application.

For example, the Coca Cola mission statement is: To refresh the world. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness. To create value and make a difference. Facebook’s statement reads: To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. While ASOS aim to: Become the number 1 fashion destination for 20-somethings globally. The culture of each company then encompasses how each aim to achieve these goals while retaining a happy, healthy and talented workforce.

Once you understand the true definition of ‘company culture’ it’s easy to see why it’s such an important element when it comes to talent attraction and retention, also referred to as ‘the war for talent’. Along with the job description, the culture of a business is the next most important factor for most employees. According to Glassdoor’s 2019 Mission & Culture Survey, over 77% of adults (across France, Germany, the US and the UK) would consider a company’s culture before applying for a job there. 79% would consider a company’s mission and purpose before applying and in addition, ‘Over half of the 5000 respondents said that company culture is more important than salary when it comes to job satisfaction.’

Speaking about the results Glassdoor President Christian Sutherland-Wong said, “Across the countries we surveyed, it’s clear that job seekers are seeking more meaningful workplace experiences. Seekers want to be paid fairly but they too want to work for a company whose values align with their own and whose mission they can fully get behind.”

The War for Talent is real and it’s accelerating. The economy has recovered once again, the workforce is more educated than ever before, and the power is continuing to shift from employer to employee. Add to this wavering company loyalty following the most recent recession, and you have a pool of talent who are out for the best salaries, the most attractive career prospects and the shiniest benefits packages. The question is, do companies have what it takes to compete? For what is potentially the first time in history the scales are tipping in favour of the employee. They’re the prize and in order to win, companies must adapt and evolve faster than their competition.

The brain is a vital organ which dictates all aspects of our lives. Like all other parts of the body, it needs regular exercise and stimulation otherwise it will deteriorate and be prone to brain drain or even worse, neurological disorders.

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