The battle to acquire the best talent
What are firms doing to ensure they get, and keep, the right staff?
Salesforce staff at their offices with Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Michelle Ellis, Tony Kirwan, Aoife Ni Mhurchu and Fiona Gallagher of Topaz
A gap is widening in the battle to attract and retain skilled employees. Now that millennials comprise the largest generation within the workforce, thriving businesses are figuring out how to cater to what that generation wants. That means flexibility, a collaborative work environment and a progressive cultural identity.
“Younger employees have a more transient mindset when it comes to their careers and are happy to look around for the next big opportunity,” says Claire McGeever of Great Place to Work.
“We see organisations showing greater clarity on their unique selling proposition and what their brand stands for. For example, they may not have the most lucrative salaries but they offer compelling graduate opportunities or a corporate social responsibility programme no one can match.”
Before potential employees can buy into that appeal, however, businesses need to put themselves in the best possible position to attract the right candidates. Topaz Energy, Ireland’s largest fuel and convenience brand, promotes opportunities at job fairs, on social media and at open recruitment days countrywide twice a month. It also employs a candidate-centred hiring process through the Hire Lab, a multimedia recruitment hub and talent pool where candidates can build a comprehensive profile with real-time updates.
“Everyone is asked why they want to work for Topaz Energy and a lot of people bring up career progression, which is our number one focus for recruitment,” says Fionna Gallagher, the company’s retail recruitment manager. More than 90 per cent of Topaz service station managers started on the shop floor, she adds, with many progressing to the corporate office.
“We’ve had a lot of success with training and development, and people want to be part of that story,” she says. “We’re all across Ireland as well, so whether someone is tied to a college course or just lives in Dublin Monday to Friday, we provide flexibility so they can move around the country without losing their job.”
Salesforce is one of the top 10 fastest- growing software companies in the world, with 17,000 employees and a European hub in Dublin, and sees employee engagement as critical to long-term retention. It uses a cloud-powered customer relationship management system to transform the efficiency of businesses.
However, it also uses that same technology to develop a talent acquisition platform whereby its recruitment team operates with a bigger picture in mind, rather than simply filling vacancies on a role-by-role basis. That can mean reassigning a candidate to a more suitable role that opens up later in the year or inviting prospects to informal recruiting events, called Talentforce Networking Nights, where they can learn more about Salesforce and its culture.
“We’re constantly looking for people from different cultural backgrounds with language skills at all levels,” says Mark Stanley, vice president of digital marketing at Salesforce. “Seeking a career change is a critical time for anyone and even if that process doesn’t lead to a hire with us, we want that person to go away from Salesforce feeling connected to what we do.”
Every year, all Salesforce employees use a management tool called V2MOM to map out their vision, values, methods, obstacles and measures of success. “Ultimately, that trickles down from the CEO to every individual in the company,” says Stanley. “It keeps Salesforce aligned to what we’re trying to achieve at the highest level.”
Salesforce provides a database of development opportunities, training and mentorship for its staff, while a business simulator gives them a chance to see how their decisions would affect the company’s growth over a three-year forecast. Employees can also get education reimbursement for up to €5,000 a year for relevant upskilling, as well as six days of paid leave to volunteer.
“We find it helps employees feel they’re here for more than just their day-to-day role,” Stanley says. “They get the chance to get out of the office and have an impact in the world outside of company metrics.”