How to attract the right people in a tight labour market

How to attract the right people in a tight labour market

Attracting the right people for your business is difficult due to the pandemic restricting movement and the current economic climate. I have heard from a growing number of business leaders here and overseas lamenting the availability of talented people in their industry, especially when in competition with overseas companies trying to lure local talent. Or, they have been unable to attract specialised staff from overseas.

The advice I have been giving to those in this situation is that they must do all they can to differentiate their company from competitors and improve their overall market perception. Doing so will help them to retain the talent they already have and make it easier to attract the right people when vacancies arise. How they can do this is the subject of this month’s blog.

Attract the right people by promoting what you stand for

To attract the right people for your business, you need to let them know that you are the right employer for them. You should already have your business culture firmly embedded in strategy with existing employees on board and practising it daily. But it is also essential that you communicate your values externally, especially in recruitment material. Your company’s core values should drive your choice in staff.

Promote your culture, purpose and core values in job advertisements, your website and all social media platforms that your company utilises. It pays to include your marketing people in on the discussion regarding the content of your recruitment advertisements and promotion. This is because they are skilled at accentuating the positive and creating material that appeals to your ideal customer. It will be an easy transfer of their skills to help you entice your perfect recruit.

What your ideal employee is looking for 

Increasingly job seekers are looking to find purpose in their work and are drawn to companies who publicise their purpose. Remember, purpose is your reason for being, why you exist as a company and the difference you make in the world.

Job seekers often ask themselves, “Will I fit in with this company?” before submitting their applications. Including your core values when advertising for a vacancy will appeal to them and ensure you receive applications from people who share your values.

Applicants will also want to know the benefits of working for your company. What opportunities do you offer employees for advancement and ongoing training, for example? What are the short to mid-term plans for your company? It is no longer enough to only say that you are a growth company. The right people want to understand where the company is heading and know that they are investing their skills and talent in a business committed to success.

I have seen positions advertised where there has been no inclusion of the benefits of working for the company and then heard managers complain about the lack of applications received. To attract the right people and the top talent, you must list what your company can offer that others may not. For example:

  • Free car parking onsite.
  • Medical insurance.
  • Contributions to Kiwi saver or other superannuation schemes.
  • Free gym memberships, health appraisals, flu vaccinations.
  • Rewards for long service.
  • Active social clubs and invitations to celebrate workplace achievements.
  • Remote working or flexible hours, extra annual leave or sick leave entitlements.

If your business is a leader in its field, has won awards or is active in the community or sustainability, include them in your recruitment ads, websites and social media. Top talent are looking for any information that confirms that you are a business they want to work with and proud to be associated with.

Retaining the talent you already have

It is much easier and less expensive to retain the right people than it is to replace them. Reasons why good people leave include:

  • They feel the company no longer is under effective leadership or has a purpose.
  • They feel underappreciated or have received no recognition for the work they do.
  • There is disharmony within teams over the demarcation of roles or unclear expectations.
  • They no longer feel their role has a purpose or have received an opportunity for personal development.
  • They no longer believe in the company values, culture, purpose or success.
  • A competitor has offered to fulfil all of the above.

People and Culture – As an enabler for your strategy for success

To succeed, you have to become an employer of choice. Ensuring your talent remains with your company begins with embedding people and culture in your overall long-term strategy.

Culture is not driven by perks, pay, or flexible hours; those are favourable working conditions. What drives culture instead:

  • Leadership that has communicated a vision that inspires staff.
  • Core values are part of the company’s DNA; they are what you will protect above all else.
  • Dreaming big, but paying attention to the little things so they don’t become big issues.
  • Passion for your business.

The people who work for your company are your biggest and best asset, and it pays to treat them well. Research tells us that the top three reasons why good people stay, even when offered more money somewhere else, are:

  • Their efforts are recognised, and they feel they are a valued member of the organisation.
  • There is effective communication, and they are asked for input on improving the business’s performance. They contribute to success.
  • They have confidence in the business leaders and that managers “treat them like a person and show interest in their wellbeing”.

Creating a successful people and culture strategy should include the following criteria:

  1. Treating talent as your scarcest resource.
  2. The People and Culture leader is not accountable for the company culture. They are the enabler; the CEO is responsible for culture.
  3. Drive a high-performance culture in which individual development and career aspirations are supported and aligned to organisational goals.
  4. Performance management is enhanced to cultivate talent and maintain high levels of excellence.
  5. The CEO takes an active interest in the people who work for the company.
  6. Inspirational leadership that embraces change and promotes a culture of accountability and collaborative working is encouraged.
  7. Career pathways that enable long-term development, progression and succession planning exist.
  8. Engagement, achievement and celebrating success are recognised and valued.
  9. Ensuring people love working for the company.
  10. There is a role for a strategic People and Culture leader in the company, and their contribution is valued.
  11. Onboarding is not about training. It is about learning the history, values and goals of the company. Staff also have all the tools and training they need, understand their role in the company and have clear lines of communication available.
  12. Staffing requirements are forecasted twelve months in advance, so recruiting can begin before it is needed. Recruiting early reduces stress on existing staff, e.g. not covering for a vacancy whilst still doing their work.

Finally, ensure that there are pathways for development and that every role has a job description that clearly sets out who is responsible for what and how the role fits in with the company’s goals. Involve your people in company decisions and include regular opportunities for feedback and initiatives from all levels of the business. Celebrate successes and communicate purpose clearly and often.

Need advice? We can help you attract the right people.

As a Gravitas Impact Senior business coach, I have the experience and knowledge to help business leaders recruit and retain the right people. I work with them to embed people and culture into their long-term strategy, creating a work environment that thrives and enables all involved to feel part of its success. If you are struggling to attract the right people for your company or staff are constantly being head-hunted by others, give me a call to discuss how I can help you turn the situation around.

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  • About the Author, Leigh Paulden

    Leigh Paulden


    Leigh Paulden is an author and internationally certified business growth consultant with over 30 years of experience across 30+ different industries. He works with mid-market business leaders looking to grow. He creates the clarity and certainty needed to make great decisions and achieve scalable and sustainable success.

    Find out more about Leigh or contact him to discuss taking your business growth to the next level.