The “war” for talent

By Edward Hendrickx, EJP Financial Astronauts

Due to the disruption of supply chains and economic systems all over the world, we all cope with the same problem to be solved: how to face the battle for talent whereby not only does the employer have higher expectations of the employee, but the employee also expects to be challenged and requires more freedom and flexibility from their employer.

Of course, an enterprise could use trivial measures to attract and retain talent like offering salary increases and other (mainly financial) incentives such as bonuses, cars, call options, etc. However these benefits only provide short- term impact and stimulus for (future) employees. Employers should look into alternatives which can motivate (future) employees to join and work for your enterprise, and keep them engaged in the long term. As enterprises, we need to re- examine our thinking about the nature of work to be performed (what is done and how it is done), the nature of the workforce (employees, software, or employees plus software), the location of the workplace (where do people work from, work hours, or more flexibility and the quality of the workplace environment). Another less obvious, more difficult factor is the environment outside the workplace that impacts work.

Taking this into consideration, enterprises and managers should arrange not only showcase career maps, based on historical data to indicate possible career paths for the incumbent of a given role, but also look at "passive" internal candidates to identify the potential of current employees to fit a particular role. A proprietary, internal LinkedIn- like application for example could enhance internal visibility of outstanding vacancies. Also, more engagement with managers to change the tone of career conversations from a short-term approach to a long- term focus, coupled with investment in lasting relationships, is extremely important to keeping talent on board. In this context, the role of managing and developing talent has emerged as a critical focus area for organisations.

Enterprises should emphasise leadership talent development on another level. Undoubtedly, it has become more and more complicated for companies to emphasise the capabilities of its employees, and this has an impact on how incentives are used to help existing employees to grow within the company and to attract talented new employees.

The shift for managers from a more passive role to an active role of in talent development leads to a necessary internal transformation of an enterprise when it comes to providing additional incentives based on other values. Arrange a solid programme for personal and educational growth (i.e. talent development). Talent development is an essential constituent of talent management. The trends shaping the current “ideal” workplace have made talent development invaluable for the employee's professional growth and the organisation's competitive advantage. Considering talent development is a complex activity, where each employee has different needs.

The traditional one-size-fits-all approach for talent development implies that employees take charge of their own development while supported by the organisation. For this traditional approach, organisations must define what “talent” means to them and approach talent development as a coherent effort to leverage the true power of the talent pool through cognitive synergy. The change of talent development to a custom- made process results in a new workplace which emphasises soft skills and technical skills. Talent development is gaining momentum, and its significance is expected to grow, linking individual careers and organisational growth. This is where leadership and leadership development play a crucial role.

Leaders play a significant role in building and sustaining organisations in the face of challenges related to globalisation, technological advancement, political turmoil and cultural changes. Organisations constantly need leaders who can lead well in multiple domains at once. Therefore, leadership development, as a part of talent development, is a critical dimension for the viability, development, and transformation of organisations. Leadership development is embedded in specific practices of 360-degree feedback, executive coaching, mentoring, networking, job assignments, and action learning. However, development of leadership skills is better learned on the job by challenging experiences than by training and other formal programmes, and therefore constitutes the core of executive development.

Companies should remain focused on ensuring a reliable internal talent pool while they concurrently develop a leadership talent pool, thus securing the organisation's future. With the scarcity of talent, possessing the “right” competencies and experience, the ability of organisations to attract and retain qualified and experienced talent is likely to be a crucial challenge for managers. Identifying and retaining top talent whose strategic importance is essential for competitive advantage emerges as a critical focus area. Organisations design and invest in multi-fold developmental opportunities to engage with potential talent. These adopted practices align with the principles of the talent on-demand framework.

Talent management strategies are increasingly branded as differentiators to attract and retain high-potential talent. Providing state-of-the-art learning opportunities to upgrade competencies in line with the changing needs of employees should be the focus as specific programmes target specific levels within organisations. Talent management initiatives are aligned with the employee's life cycle as an effective strategy to keep top talent within the organisation. This ensures higher top-talent engagement and improves employee satisfaction. Undoubtedly, such initiatives also facilitate sustainable employment. A competitive organisation must invest in employee education as continuous learning maintains up-to-date knowledge, enables employees' continued growth, and builds competencies, leading to increased organisation productivity and effectiveness. As organisations pursue a growth mindset, leadership development for retaining and nurturing talent is crucial going forward.

Incentives and skills which are important for “Generation Z” are not only incentives in wealth and remunerations but also in other values in life such as personal growth (talent development), corporate social responsibility, inclusion, and work-life balance. Address the skills an enterprise needs and how an employee could grow to develop these skills. Use talents of employees where possible. Why not arrange for a monthly personal coach or arrange for a proper home office to work from home. Also examine how your enterprise acts on an environmental level.

Another innovative idea is to allow employees to work in other fields so that they stay focused on the work they perform for themselves and also for your enterprise. Enterprises could arrange for “workcations”. Freedom and flexibility are benefits that come from making workcations a part of the enterprise's management model. Workcations create greater business agility. A change of scenery might lead to higher productivity and collaboration and reduce stress levels, provided people remain in communication.

Creativity can also increase. If an enterprise has distributed teams, a workcation may give people from different teams the opportunity to meet, get to know more about each other and bond outside the office, leading to better collaboration on a professional level. Workcations may also improve mental health. Giving employees the freedom to work where they choose can be a major upside for the employee’s mental health. Companies that embrace the fact that the pandemic completely changed the ways employees work will benefit greatly from retention and employee engagement.

Remote work requires a greater dose of employee accountability and it’s important to develop methods to increase employee accountability If a worker is responsible enough to remain working while also taking some time off at an exotic location, you have a great person in your enterprise. Workcations can make employees even more accountable, as they know they need to separate time off from time working and will compartmentalise accordingly.

While the benefits of remote work are clear, there are obstacles for companies to consider, including: issues for employees settling abroad, as they may face trouble with facilities which are taken for granted at home (e.g. access electricity, hot water, wi-fi connection), which could hinder getting the job done. Keeping track of employees can be an additional challenge – the drawback from the HR side is accountability, especially with a globally scattered workforce. Keeping an enterprise as flexible as possible while still compliant can be tricky.

For companies looking for a way to give workers a break from routine and the chance reconnect with friends, family or colleagues in person while still earning money and staying productive, workcations are an opportunity to explore. However, compliance and productivity are essential to make it work. Workers need to be adept, remote workers to ensure they remain productive and communicative.

In our battle for talent, we recently set up another office (EJP Curaçao) to allow employees to work from the Caribbean. Two Dutch employees have already taken this opportunity to work temporarily from this location, and we have also found good talent on the Caribbean Island itself. Opportunities like this are highlighted in our meetings and recruitment efforts so that other future employees know the possibilities.

To wrap up, here is a short list of key points to take away:

Build a better workforce plan;

Think outside the box when it comes to recruiting;

Address skills and skills gaps;

Redeploy talent management and talent development to new priorities;

Rethink location strategy;

Improve diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives;

Redesign roles for flexibility within the enterprise.

Edward Hendrickx

Edward Hendrickx

GGI member firm
EJP Financial Astronauts
Auditing & Accounting,Corporate Finance, Tax
‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
T: +31 73 850 72 80
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

EJP Financial Astronauts are auditors, advisers, and challengers. Their 40 auditors and international tax lawyers have a wide range of expertise. Their main fields of expertise are Dutch corporate and personal income tax, international taxation, Dutch royalty, interest and dividend withholding tax, estate planning, and wage tax. They have an AFM license to perform audits for larger midsize companies.

Edward Hendrickx is EJP’s founder, partner & tax specialist. He specialises in international tax advice, mergers & acquisitions, and consultancy on entrepreneurship, and for larger SME clients.

Published: GGI Insider, No. 123, January 2023 l Photo: fizkes -


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