SMEs and large companies face different barriers to attracting top talent.

War for talent variants.

Research from Robert Half has identified the hurdles organisations face when attracting top talent change based on the size of the business.The War for Talent is not expected to weaken any time soon with 78 per cent of Australian business leaders stating it will be more challenging to find qualified professionals in the coming five years. While there has been over 266,000 full-time jobs added to the Australian economy over the last 12 months, the unemployment level has also grown, pointing to the development of a two-speed economy in which the vacancies in many industries are growing increasingly difficult to fill despite the availability of jobseekers due to the degree of technical skills required. This means that top candidates who possess hard-to-find skills regularly receive multiple job offers and are in a strong market position.

“In order to win the ‘War for Talent’ in a skills-short market, while there are certain key elements to successfully attract employees, such as an attractive salary, work/life balance initiatives and professional development opportunities, there’s no one-size fits all approach to bringing top candidates to your organisation,” says Andrew Morris, director of Robert Half Australia. “Employers have to identify and address their barriers during the recruitment process and lead with their key selling points to ensure the demands of talented candidates are met.”

While business leaders understand the importance of recruiting and retaining top talent within their business, many are hampered by challenges relating to the nature of their organisation. Among the Australian business leaders surveyed, the top barriers faced by SMEs when seeking to attract talent include competition from other desirable companies in the region (39 per cent), that they do not offer as many unique perks and benefits as their local competitors (38 per cent), and that they do not offer enough learning or development opportunities for skills advancement (38 per cent).

Meanwhile, the top barriers for large companies seeking to attract top talent is that their hiring process is very slow and they lose good candidates during the process (39 per cent), followed by an equal concern that they do not offer as many unique perks and benefits as their local competitors (37 per cent), that their technology is out of date or slow to adapt which is unappealing for candidates who want to work with new and emerging technologies (37 per cent) and that they do not do enough to promote their company as a great place to work (37 per cent).

“Small and mid-sized companies generally do not have the same resources for remuneration and professional development schemes as their larger counterparts, leaving SMEs in a position where they need to promote other aspects of their business to attract top talent,” says Morris. “SMEs are often more agile decision-makers which also supports faster hiring processes. They generally provide more variety within a role, and a more seamless uptake and integration of new technology and systems. These are all appealing selling points for candidates looking for more flexibility and exposure to various tasks and responsibilities.”

While salary remains a key driver for employees during the recruitment process, Morris says non-cash benefits such as flexible working conditions are also highly valued. SMEs should therefore prioritise the development of a comprehensive remuneration program that meets individual needs to remain competitive.

“On the other hand, while larger companies often have bigger budgets than their SME counterparts, which can mean a more generous salary package and well-defined career development schemes, many are stifled by lengthy administrative processes, which in turn often means they miss out on their preferred candidate,” explains Morris. “It’s important for employers – regardless of company size – to minimise their time to hire so they don’t lose strong applicants to the competition during the decision-making process.”

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