Finding talent key challenge facing Irish entrepreneurs

Study shows finding key people ties with funding as major business obstacle

Liam Kavanagh, Irish Times managing director, and Frank O’Keeffe, partner in charge of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year

Liam Kavanagh, Irish Times managing director, and Frank O’Keeffe, partner in charge of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year


As Ireland emerges from the recession, entrepreneurship and innovation are essential to increase competitiveness and pave the way for future growth and job creation.

To gain insights into what would enhance entrepreneurship here EY Entrepreneur Of The Year set up the entrepreneurship barometer to gather feedback from 350 of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs within the EOY network.

These entrepreneurs employ 152,250 people, and in 2013 alone, they generated €16.6 billion in revenue and created 13,650 new jobs.

In our feedback talent and funding emerged neck-and- neck as the foremost obstacles for Irish entrepreneurs

While the latter wouldn’t come as a surprise, access to talent may not have struck as an obvious hindrance to home-grown businesses. Ireland, after all, has been lauded for its young, highly educated workforce.

But Irish entrepreneurs are battling to find individuals with relevant experience and skills to fill key roles, with 38 per cent finding it hard to source experienced staff and a further 24 per cent trying to find both experienced staff and skilled graduates.

Shortages of appropriately skilled local workers and talent restrict the ability of businesses to capitalise on growth opportunities and increase their competitive advantage, particularly in emerging markets.

To attract top talent, Irish entrepreneurs need to create strategies that engage and retain employees. Recent EY research among top talent in the Bric countries has identified a five-point framework from which entrepreneurs can design a winning strategy.

Career goals are of key importance to high-potential employees. Organisations need a clear retention plan that supports development needs and maps out tangible opportunities for their future.

Companies need to vary messages to attract the best talent in different countries.

In Russia, India and Brazil, for example, the focus should be on financial strength, while in China, companies should highlight the prestige of working for their brand.

Tailored strategies
Monitor the recruitment messages

from leading employers in your region to gain an understanding of local talent and then tailor your strategies accordingly.

Bear in mind that talented employees value working alongside similarly high-potential colleagues.

Create feedback loops within your company, ensuring team leaders have regular conversations with their teams to ascertain dynamics and motivation levels. Use these insights to fine-tune your people policy based on the successes and challenges of your team leaders.

Despite organisations often delivering on location, research indicates talent places greater value on high- energy, sociable and comfortable environments.

A desirable work environment was also related to job satisfaction and engagement, two predictors of retention. Rather than investing heavily in central locations, focus on the internal design of your workplace to create a comfortable environment.

In-demand talent wants current steady incomes and future earning potential – the area of widest disparity between what employees want and what they feel their employers provide.

Promote career paths and earnings. Focus on building a benefits package that includes development through education and training.

Frank O’Keeffe is the partner in charge of EY Entrepreneur Of The Year . The deadline for this year’s entries is mid night tonight

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