Key takeaways

  • Business leaders express concern about a lack of skilled workforce in Australia.
  • Workplace culture and strategy is being addressed by 67% of CEOs.
  • Diversity policies can feed into innovative practices.

When it comes to hiring staff for your organisation, attracting the right people is only half the battle – retaining talent in an increasingly competitive landscape requires a pragmatic and evolutionary approach.

A recent global study by PwC has shone a light on how business leaders are adapting their talent strategy, particularly in Australia. The motivation is clear: 65% of Australian business leaders, says the 19th Annual Global CEO Survey, are concerned about the availability of key skills in the workforce. This is a particularly acute problem in technology, where skilled workers can easily be lured abroad and the infrastructure for education and training new staff may not be sufficient.

However, CEOs here are going full throttle when it comes to adapting their talent strategy to ensure their business is fit for growth. More than two thirds of leaders admit they are making changes to their workplace culture and behaviour strategy.

From serving astronomical pay packets to setting up sleep pods and gaming rooms, there are of course plenty of ways in which organisations might hope to attract the star players in their industry. Here are three of the significant factors to consider if you’re looking to stay ahead of the HR game:

How flexible
is your approach?

As workforces become more connected, requiring staff to remain at their desk in a central office and during prescribed hours just doesn’t make sense.

Employees expect to be able to work flexibly, not just in terms of location but also hours, allowing them to more easily pursue personal interests, work on outside enterprises and maintain family commitments.

More empowered than ever before, workers increasingly expect to be able to adopt a variety of roles or employers – what has become known as the ‘gig economy’. Would you turn down a talented and highly sought-after candidate just because they wanted to focus on another project for a portion of their week? You’d be surprised how many do!

Not only does a flexible policy make a role more attractive to prospective employees, it may well boost productivity too – allowing them to adopt a rhythm that suits them best. In fact, recent research suggests that people who work from home are 87% more likely to love their jobs than office-bound colleagues.

Many businesses are already responding by incorporating flexible work policies – including PwC, which introduced ‘All Roles Flex’ firm-wide in 2015. Your competitors could be, too.

PwC CEO Survey 2016 - talent strategy

In Australia, workplace culture and behaviour is seen to make a significant impact on talent strategy. Source: PwC’s 19th Annual Global CEO Survey.

What do you
believe in?

According to the CEO Survey, eight out of ten Australian business leaders acknowledge that top talent want to work for companies that have social values closely aligned to their own.

Organisations that aim to make a positive social impact will stand out from the rest and employees are likely to be more engaged in their purpose and role as a result of feeling that they contribute value.

Implementing such practices is one thing, but you also have to ensure that your company values are clearly communicated internally as well as externally. A bonus would be to provide employees the opportunity to actively participate in those values beyond their immediate role, such as volunteering opportunities.

Who is invited
to the team?

Almost 40% of Australian CEOs revealed that they’re making changes to their diversity and inclusion strategy – an impressive figure in light of the fact that just 22% of their global peers are doing the same.

Culture is critical to innovation. Diversity and inclusion not only opens up a greater workforce pool, but it is the gateway to a broader range of thinking. It’s hard to nurture an experimental, innovative environment if everyone has the same belief systems and processes. The ability to confidently test the status quo is a valuable asset to organisations that want to progress – and a diverse workforce can more naturally encourage that.

PwC CEO Survey 2016 - diversity

Australian business leaders are taking diversity and inclusion more seriously than most of their peers globally.

Market forces mean that organisations face stiff competition for good, skilled staff. In conjunction with the rise of digital technology, this means the balance of power has shifted to a more informed, enabled and exacting workforce.

Digital transformation is not something that only occurs externally – it affects organisations from the inside out. And for internal transformation to be successful, a shift in thinking is required: stakeholders need to be open minded about the possibilities and undertake a certain ‘fluidity’ in their new approach to talent acquisition and retention.

The other side of the coin is a technology shift: there’s plenty of technology out there that can enable new ways of working, such as remote working apps, a segment that’s predicted to reach US$24 billion by 2020 alone.

It is positive to see that Australian CEOs are on the front foot when it comes to addressing workforce strategy. The true test is to see the results filter through, so businesses not only retain skilled employees on an individual level, but on a national scale keep such talent on our shores for the long term.



Nick Spooner

Nick Spooner is a partner at PwC and the leader of PwC Digital Services Experience Centre across South East Asia and Australia.

More About Nick Spooner