Six top tips for attracting and retaining talent in a Brave New World

A statement that will shock… well, basically no one: much has changed in talent.

I’ve never seen a more competitive, aggressive talent market than we’ve experienced in 2022. There are indications that Australia has seen a sharp increase in resignations, and in some sectors, there may be more to come.

But it’s not that simple. A global financial crisis showed up at the party, and is already making its presence felt. If you haven’t heard about it, ask the thousands of tech employees who rapidly descended from unprecedented pay rises and sign on bonuses, to being laid off.

Meanwhile, the long-term economic prosperity, combined with flexible working (enabled by tech and accelerated by the pandemic) mean that people really have reevaluated what matters most in their careers and lives - and they now have options.

So much challenge. So much change. How do we respond?

This is a challenge talent leaders everywhere are grappling with right now. The talent market's gone mad. And as we stumble towards a 'new normal' that's nowhere near normal, employers are struggling and striving to reimagine their talent attraction and engagement strategies.

Here are six tips to chew on for attracting and retaining talent in a brave new world.

1. Talent’s the priority. And CEOs now get it.

For years, progressive P&C leaders have made the case for investment in strategic talent approaches and initiatives... often without success. Then came an aggressively competitive candidate market, and an accelerated shift in remote working. As a result, many businesses - and their Exec teams - are now really hurting from their inability to attract and retain the talent they need.

If a Global Recession does hit Australia hard, those challenges won't go away - they'll just become more complex. Consider, for example, the negative impact of people staying in jobs they hate (or struggle to do) for fear of unemployment. Whatever way you look at it, so many CEOs are looking for better and more sustainable solutions. For proactive P&C folks, this is your moment! Seize it and make it count.

2. In 2022 Australia, purpose isn’t enough. Contribution is vital.

Remember Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs? Many of the people who do or could work for you here in Australia are fortunate enough to be at least a decent way up that pyramid, most of the time.

Based on all our work in recent years, we've seen that these people don't just want to work for an organisation that 'makes a difference'. They need to be able to directly contribute - to your purpose, your strategy and your culture.

This is particularly great news for well-run smaller businesses, where no one's just a number, and where you really do win through your people.

3. In your EVP, prove the good and share the journey.

We've said it a million times: an Employee Value Proposition is not an ad and it's not a campaign. Even if you have a well-articulated EVP, remember that for many candidates, it's just words. So bring it to life and evidence your promises. How do your people make that impact? What exactly does 'great culture' feel like here? Who learned what and how?

Last one? Remember that great EVPs will also open up the conversation about the stuff that's not so positive or easy. Those systems that need updating... the under-development processes... the team that badly needs fresh ideas but finds it hard to hear them... When you share honestly, you'll probably find that for the candidates you need, your 'work in progress' is part of the attraction.

4. Struggling to attract? Maybe it’s time to refine the product.

If you're consistently failing to attract the talent you need, maybe it's not (just) about the marketing. We're in a highly competitive talent market, and people are re-evaluating what matters to them at work and in life. If you can tap into that - to understand what your target audiences really want, and reshape your offering to deliver for them - you'll have an immediate competitive advantage. Remember, it's about the reality - where and when you need them to work, what you need them to do, what skills, qualifications and experiences you need them to bring, and what you're willing to offer in return.

5. Counter offers rarely work. Stop the heads turning in the first place.

We think a critical strategy for senior leaders right now is to develop and enable a 'stay culture'. Your people are being contacted by recruiters left, right and centre with promises of greener grass. And once they've been talked into that 'coffee chat' or 'quick call', it can be very hard to halt the momentum towards a resignation. Invest time and energy into a culture where a) people have genuine and tangible reasons to stay with you, even if the money's better elsewhere, and b) your employees feel able and willing to approach you if they're considering leaving... before it's too late.

6. Celebrate leavers… and leave the key under the mat.

The grass, of course, isn't always greener. Imagine how many people have left a job and started a new one, then regretted it. Now remember that most of those people won't re-approach their original employer about coming back. That's a huge missed opportunity. So unless you're glad to see the back of them, make sure you celebrate your leavers and ensure they know you'd welcome them back. Then check in when they start the new job - you never know what you might find!

Want to talk more about attracting and retaining talent? We’d love to chat. Reach out to the team at

Mark Puncher

About the Author

Mark Puncher is Employer Branding Australia’s Founder and Chief Energy Officer. Having spent much of the last 22 years with one foot in recruitment and the other in marketing, Mark loves helping fantastic, imperfect organisations bring their stories to life to engage their future superstars.

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