Gunning for talent - poachers on the prowl

by HCA29 Apr 2009

Growing numbers of Australian businesses are coming under threat because poor redundancy strategies have led to an increase in the poaching of organisations' remaining pivotal talent. Headhunting of top talent is particularly prevalent in professional services, banking & finance, engineering and mining.

Chandler Macleod Group's executive general manager of professional & executive recruitment, Peter Gleeson, said that following a redundancy many fellow employees feel concerned that they will be next in the firing line, often due to poor redundancy and workforce planning practices which have left remaining employees feeling fearful, stressed, overworked and open to approaches by competitor organisations.

"Recent candidate research undertaken by CMG revealed that a startling 76% of candidate respondents currently working for organisations that have recently made redundancies plan to move jobs within the next six months," he said.

"The instability resulting from restructuring means that many organisations can be guaranteed that their strongest competitors will be taking advantage of this situation and will be actively looking at ways to poach their top talent and it's crucial that businesses get on the front foot in order to secure their core talent pools," Gleeson added.

For Gleeson, it's a matter of leadership ability. At a time when all employees are looking for guidance, Gleeson noted that many organisations lack the necessary leadership skills to navigate their business through a severe economic downturn. 

"In the 1990s recession, many of today's leaders were themselves workers or in middle management and did not gain hands-on experience in restructuring and evolving their workforces. Management styles need to be significantly altered in negative times and some are only now realising that they are recession novices," he said.

In addition to head hunting high performers, CMG are also seeing a number of strong companies targeting potential takeovers. Many organisations are also redirecting their energies and resources to repackage portfolios, and developing goods or services that meet the current and ongoing needs of customers.

What can businesses do to retain top talent?

  • Openly communicate during and post redundancies
  • Develop a core nucleus of people supplemented with contract or temporary labour
  • Set mutually agreed KPIs
  • Understand the resilience and stress levels of each employee

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