Finding and keeping the right talent in uncertain times

The number of unemployed people across the Australian economy currently exceeds demand – so organisations should be easily able to swoop in and snatch the talent they need, right?

Not exactly. The real issue isn’t a lack of quality talent – it’s understanding what is quality talent and holding on to it.

Australia is entering the first recession since 1992, and the impact of the ongoing pandemic has been felt across all industries in Australia. According to a recent IBISWorld report, ‘Many businesses have abandoned or postponed investment in new productive capacity to retain cash and provide a liquidity buffer to survive the COVID-19 pandemic’. With many organisations tightening their belt and looking to reduce costs, they’re letting go of huge numbers of permanent and contractor talent.

About 992,000 people in Australia are now officially unemployed and looking for work. With large parts of the country looking to reopen over the next six months, many companies are slowly realising the enormous difficulty in restarting projects, regaining momentum and sourcing experts to get the job done.

In this article, we take a look at some of the biggest challenges organisations are facing in engaging specialists, the dangers of ‘talent drain’, and the importance of a robust talent pool.

Finding a needle in a haystack

Recently, we’ve discussed Australia’s talent shortage, and how organisations can harness contractors to alleviate their talent concerns. But with record numbers looking for work in Australia, organisations are finding it harder than ever to sort through thousands of unemployed workers and find the skilled talent they need.

Some of the country’s most skilled workers have been let go by organisations. However, other workers who have not been performing strongly are lumped into the same group. Even if a prospective employee looks good on paper, it’s hard to judge their ability to complete a project or assignment until they’re hired.

Take a look at this recent ABC article – one employer was overwhelmed by over 200 applications for a single storeroom job. According to the owner, ‘We’ve never seen so many white-collar workers going for that position’. With the sheer number of prospective workers in the market right now, finding the right one just got a whole lot more difficult.

Organisations looking to hire can either hire unknown talent or known talent. That is, workers that you have no previous experience with, or workers who you know can get the job done.

Organisations undertaking permanent recruitment often engage known talent. Advances in automation and talent pooling technology are now enabling organisations to extend this to their contractors.

Never there when you need it

Since early 2020, many organisations have been cutting costs where they can and reducing their headcount.

That’s not to say all employers are moving backwards. As the government gradually lifted lockdown restrictions, according to the ABS, an additional 210,800 people were hired in June.

While many organisations have put projects on hold or cancelled them entirely, many have prioritised business-critical projects. As cost savings are at the forefront of everyone’s mind, firms must fast-track any project likely to boost revenue.

Unfortunately, if these organisations have already reduced their headcount, the talent necessary to deliver these projects will likely be long gone by the time they need it.

Organisations must also take workers’ preferences into account. Many contractors come off one project and go straight into another project – others don’t. We’re seeing many workers take a break from contracting for a period of time, due to reasons such as:

  • Not seeing the types of projects they’re interested in
  • Not seeing the rate they want
  • The position not being in the right location
  • Simply just wanting a break before starting again.

To remain competitive in this environment, organisations need to focus on finding and keeping the right talent. As priorities shift, many employers lose the talent they might need to engage down the track.

Anywhere in the country

COVID-19 has changed the nature of work in 2020. We’ve spoken about the changing expectations and perceptions of work, the need for flexible options and the rise of the contractor workforce. Organisations are starting to understand that work doesn’t need to be completed in the traditional format: that is permanent workers, doing 9 to 5 in the office.

A particular CXC client needed a contractor with specific IT specialisation, who had to work in the Melbourne CBD. Although a person in Sydney matched these requirements exactly, the client was adamant that the role could only be performed in Melbourne. Because of the lack of resources, the project was shelved.

Six months later, with remote working becoming the norm and the success of using more collaborative technology, the geographical differences didn’t seem like such a big issue. The exact same contractor that was passed on before, is now engaged and helping the team complete the project by the end of the year.

Once organisations start breaking down physical barriers, their pool of potential talent dramatically increases.

Providing access to talent through Workforce Exchange

Around the world, organisations are struggling to fill essential positions with skilled talent. According to Korn Ferry, by 2030 over ‘85 million jobs could go unfilled because there aren’t enough skilled people to take them’.

The arrival of online talent platforms, VMS technology, workforce management companies and labour automation tools means that organisations can, in near real-time and on-demand, directly source proven and known workers.

CXC’s Workforce Exchange (WEX), built on a LiveHire platform, is a marketplace designed to give you on-demand access to our proven and pre-qualified workers. At the end of their contract, our contractors are typically interested in further quality assignments, while our clients want known, proven talent to fill niche roles. WEX meets both demands.

Benefits to your organisation include:

WEX consists of contractors with technology, project management, engineering, finance and other professional service experience gained in various industries, including energy and resources, telecommunications, technology, infrastructure, media, FMCG, and consulting and professional services.

The key difference is that these contractors have worked with CXC previously and have successfully completed their assignments. They’ve also gone through our extensive compliance process, giving you confidence that they have the relevant insurance, background checks and right to work.

Building a talent pool of quality candidates through LiveHire

In addition to supporting CXC’s WEX platform, we partnered with LiveHire to develop a contractor talent community solution. The solution, designed for contract labour programs, harnesses past candidates and employee networks to build a talent community platform. Using pre-configured processes and templates, CXC can quickly implement this solution.

Our talent community platform breaks down traditional hiring manager silos, referral and hiring processes, which are often designed for a single opportunity at a single point in time. It also develops an ongoing relationship designed to increase interest in client opportunities to ensure talent community members become active candidates.

As one of the world’s leading providers of contingent worker management solutions, CXC is well positioned to optimise all elements of your contingent workforce strategy. With operations in more than 50 countries across five continents and decades of experience, we can assist with every aspect of your program.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help please contact us here.