INTOUCH – Talent War Heats Up

This year risks being the year of the revolving door if employers continue to focus on simply attracting new staff, rather than developing and retaining current employees. Resulting staff turnover is expected to cost New Zealand businesses dearly over coming months, information services company Unisys has predicted.
“At time when the skills shortage is squeezing the New Zealand economy, staff turnover is turning into major problem that is already costing the country’s businesses 1.5 times the annual salary of the replaced worker,” Terry Subkin, New Zealand manager of account and service delivery, says.
“It costs more to continually replace staff, and in tight labour market each new hire drives up wage levels for the same job role without corresponding increase in productivity. With good staff also goes intellectual property and the valuable relationships they established with customers and business partners. All indications are that this will get worse in 2008,” she says.
Unisys has come up with three strategies to keep good staff:
• Accept that staff don’t want the same job forever – find out what challenges stimulate them and develop tailored progressive career path within the
• Identify and groom best performers – work out what technical and business skills will develop the individual and ensure they access the training and experience to attain them.
• Support work-life balance – offer mobile tools and flexible work arrangements to better manage time and encourage programmes which support healthy lifestyle.
“Now is the time for businesses to examine their employees’ needs and expectations in order to create an environment to retain, not just attract, the right staff. Once they’ve joined the company, you need to be able to offer career development through training, experience and exposure to the challenges and opportunities that excite them. The employer needs to take an active role,” Shubkin says.
Replacing staff is an expensive business with Unisys analysis showing the cost of replacing worker is around 1.5 times that person’s yearly salary.
“Instead of offering potential staff champagne and iPods when they join, like some firms are reported to be doing, New Zealand businesses need robust talent management programmes which will nurture staff, provide the right long-term rewards and show workers real career path,” Shubkin said.
Unisys has tackled the problem of keeping good staff itself through its Unisys Aspire talent management programme which began in New Zealand and Australia in 2003/04, and has since expanded throughout Asia-Pacific. The programme is designed to accelerate the readiness of “high potential individuals” by ensuring they are identified and then developed and prepared to step into senior leadership roles within Unisys. So far, 46 employees across the region have completed the programme.

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