Retaining and upskilling resources in a limited market

I’ve been thinking – dangerous I know, but a pandemic does that to you! Right now, we’re suffering from a shortage of skilled people. It’s a global thing, but it’s really hitting organisations hard in New Zealand. Everywhere you look in Aotearoa we see increased demand and reduced supply for skilled people. Whether it’s in change management, business analysis, testing, or project management, it’s genuinely hard to find good people. Immigration has been non-existent for two years and my pick is that emigration will become ‘the thing’ in the coming months as we come out of our COVID cocoon.

What’s the solution? There are a few things I believe organisations should be doing right now to help counteract the effects of the skills shortage…

Fair compensation

Rising inflation and the cost of living means that people might be tempted to see what they’re worth. With competition for candidates, many are likely to be offered higher salaries. In an effort to retain your talent and keep the potential head-hunters at bay, one option is to shower your team with cash. Still, it’s worth questioning how sustainable ‘golden handcuffs’ and monetary incentives are long-term. True, they may work on occasion, and for key people, but how can you do this and stay profitable? In a world of shrinking margins, using this (rather blunt) instrument exclusively could be unsustainable.

A Strong culture

Management guru Peter Drucker was famous for this alleged quote: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” There is no doubt that this is true, as workplace culture is indeed the secret sauce that keeps employees motivated and in turn, clients happy. It’s pretty clear that people do not only quit companies or leaders, they quit organisational cultures. Imagine if you could flip it on its head and (shock, horror) create a culture where people actually want to work for you! A bit of attention to this in times like these would be a good start. Unfortunately, cultural change doesn’t happen overnight, but the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll start to see results.

Invest in well-being

“Almost half (46%) of employers believe the pandemic has had a negative impact on their employee’s mental health and wellbeing” (Hays Salary Guide 21/22)

If there is a skills shortage, there will be an increased workload for existing staff. Have a well-being allowance and actively promote the fact that you care about your people outside of the work environment. An employer paying for a gym membership, may be the difference.

Support Professional Development

The fourth and final way to retain your people is to ensure you have clear individual development pathways for your team.

Hays Salary Guide 21/22 tells us for 65% of skilled professionals, learning and developing new skills is the most important priority – ahead of a pay rise (58%).

If we focus on the world of Project Management (we like to think we know a bit about this subject), every day we see people who have been thrust into Project Management or business transformation-related roles with no formal training and/or minimal support. The assumption is often made that if you’re good at your day job, you’ll be good at leading a project. For truly exceptional staff this might be the case, but in most cases, chances of success are limited unless they have the tools, training, and ongoing support. If you invest in your people and challenge them to grow into new positions, it’s not only more likely that they will stay, but the chances are you won’t have to engage in the labour market frenzy for new people. And let’s face it, if you can keep your people in the current environment, you’re ahead of many employers.

If you’d like to upskill your team in the delivery of Projects, we’d love to help. We have a broad range of courses designed to increase the chances of project success. From global certification training such as PMP or the Basics of Project Management, more specific skillsets such as managing contracts, or project governance. We have a range of offerings to help you support your team’s professional development in Project Management. By doing this you not only increase your chances of project success, but you might also find your key people are more likely to stay longer in a world where staff retention is key.