Tag Archives: attraction

A smart investment in future talent

Last week KPMG, the global consulting firm, announced plans to launch a 6 year training programme to turn 100 of this years school leavers in to Accountants.  The specifics see KPMG working with 20 schools in disadvantaged areas to recruit 100 school leavers in to BSc Accounting and Finance.  This will then be followed up by a two-year post degree training programme leading to a professional accounting qualification.

Tuition fees and accommodation costs will be covered by KPMG for the duration of the degree programme.  Starting salary post degree for accounting trainees will commence at £20,000 per annum and is expected to rise to around £45,000 once the training course has been completed.  The target is for around 400 pupils per annum to be recruited in to this scheme.

Last year we had McDonalds announce they were to introduce and support degree programmes for staff.


Is this part of a wider trend amongst employers to support further and higher education?  Clearly the rising costs of tuition fees inflames passions, as we have witnessed from the recent student demonstrations.  The issue of employee engagement is firmly on the agenda and talent attraction and retention is a challenge for so many.

KPMG, like many firms offering training schemes, suffers from having many who qualify leave to other businesses who then benefit from that investment.  Will starting early and supporting education and professional training in this way strengthen the psychological contract between employer and employee?

I for one am not convinced.  Employee engagement is an ongoing commitment.  However, this is not just about a great pr move, it is part of a genuine commitment to invest in giving school leavers a better future.  We should not just rely on government to fill in the gaps.  The private sector needs to take a longer term view about the talent of tomorrow.   I for one applaud KPMG, McDonalds and those like them for investing in that future.


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Is it ever a good time to go back?

Growing up in England in the 70’s and 80’s with a passion for football that engulfed my life, Kenny Dalglish was a superstar.  My statement is not born out of blind hero-worship (since the age of five I have been an Arsenal fan).  Dalglish was the star player and then Manager of a Liverpool team that swept everything before them to become the most successful team in English Football history (cue complaints from Manchester United Fans.  Sorry, statistically this is true).

This weekend Dalglish was re – appointed Manager of Liverpool Football Club, having resigned 20 years ago.  It is a great move from a PR perspective by the employer.  To draw business parallels, Dalglish is the Shareholders choice, the person on whom the hopes of resurrecting former glories rests.  The club is in disarray, they have not been champions of the top division in England for 20 years.  Much has changed in that time.

The Premier League is a global product, full of hugely talented players ( and some less so ) from all four corners of the globe.  In 1991 when Dalglish resigned, players in the top league came from all four corners of the British Isles.  Dalglish has held a couple of Manager roles since, but with nowhere near the same degree of success that he enjoyed with Liverpool.  Is he at risk of destroying the legend?

Should you ever look back to a former employee to return a company to former glories?

It’s a brave move by Dalglish.  The hero-worship he enjoys amongst Liverpool fans will protect him from  inflicting any long-term damage on the Dalglish legend.  It will certainly buy him and the owners of the club time.  Time that perhaps a Manager without the same history and status within in the club would not enjoy.    He has a massive job to do, not least on employee engagement.  The team look disillusioned, disenfranchised, disjointed.

Time is against him.  He has only been appointed until the end of the season.  The opportunity to create even a 12 month plan is not available to him.  He must create a short-term vision, communicate that vision, ensure all are behind that vision.  Those that don’t buy in, he must move on.  He has major recruitment issues to address as the club has arguably only 3 players that are talented enough to meet the vision the majority of stakeholders (the fans) have for the club, but he has little time to do it.  Can he attract the right talent with only a short-term objective to communicate?

The appointment has certainly lifted morale.  There are examples in business when a superstar CEO returns to transform a business.  Think Steve Jobs at Apple. Business and Sport are short-term results games.  In business it’s all about this month, this quarter, this half-year, this annual return to shareholders.  Sport is even more short-term, it’s all about the next game.  In both cases, you are only ever as good as your last result and stakeholders can have short memories.

For success you need a long-term outlook, a clear long-term vision,  to be given the time to build that vision.  The short-term nature of much of sport and business means little time is devoted to succession planning, to developing the leadership stars of the future.  As a result success is only ever short-term.

The success that Liverpool enjoyed in the 70’s and 80’s was built entirely on constant planning not only for today but for the future.  Dalglish was one of a long line that read Shankly, Paisley, Fagan, Dalglish.

He was the last in the line.  He didn’t build for the future, didn’t plan for his successor and Liverpool has suffered ever since.  Will he do it this time?  Can he build a platform for the future on which the club can enjoy sustained success?  Only time will tell.

It is a short-term move that reeks of desperation, of lack of a vision and long-term plan by the board.  They have put a tourniquet on a gaping wound and stemmed the flow of blood, for now.  Unless the club gets major surgery fast, the legend that is Dalglish will be tarnished.  Is he the man to deliver it?

Employers and Shareholders need to be patient.  Hire slow, fire fast.  Keep moving forward.  Look back to learn the lessons from history.  Build for the future from the lessons of the past.    Steve Jobs is a rare example.  Don’t go back, go forward.  In the meantime good luck Kenny, you are going to need it.


Filed under Employee Engagement, Leadership, Recruitment

Dont be Evil – Googles Hiring Process

Do you remember a time before Google?

15 years ago Google didn’t exist. Today, Google has a market capitalisation of $190 bn, employs around 20,000 people worldwide and enjoys more than 90% of the Search Engine market share in the UK and more than 66% in the US.

Google is an integral part of our everyday lives. It has become part of our everyday language. To google is now a verb. Aged five my son was already telling me to “google it” if I was unable to answer his latest enquiry (a regular occurrence ).

How did they do it? Two great minds alone would not have been enough. Great ideas, incredible innovation would not have made it without great people. Without hiring exceptionally talented people and knitting them together to form incredibly effective teams, Google would not be the success it is.

Today the brand alone will inevitably attract talent. That was not always the case. Google became a great company because it hired and retained great people. It didn’t become a huge success and then start hiring the very best. It hired the very best it could possibly afford from the outset and applied a rigour and discipline to its hiring process from day one that would be the envy of many. It has stayed a great company because it continues to apply the same principles to attract great talent that made it successful in the first place.

You don’t have to be Google to attract exceptional talent to your company. You can, however, learn from them. Here is yet another brilliant interview from www.MeetTheBoss.tv on the hiring process at Google. You can start applying these principles in your company today.

“My problem is I hire brilliant people. So 95-99 percent of my people are high talent. They really, really are. The people here are good. So we don’t use traditional methods.” Liane Hornsey from Google explains her methods of hiring people

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Filed under Hiring, Recruitment, Talent

Recruiting and retaining talent in tough times

An interesting perspective on the value of great people to an organisation came from a customer of mine recently.  This particular CEO and his HR Director proudly showed me round their new production facility that had harnessed some of the most leading edge technology in their field.

I commented (with my usual lack of technical insight) on how incredibly impressive the new set up was.  The response from the CEO said much about this particular organisations attitude to people.

“The machinery is nothing without great people.  Take the people away, the machinery will sit idle.  Take the machinery away and the people will go out and find new machinery and new ways to ensure our customers get what they need”.

It’s an obvious point, but this CEO really lives out this view in his actions every day.  I could see it not only in his comments but in his interaction with the other employees as we toured the site that morning.

Unsurprisingly this particular employer has little issue with attracting and retaining great people, despite the many challenges facing them in their market place.  The attitude from the top is prevalent throughout the organisation.

Treat people as you would wish to be treated yourself.  Create a great vision, give a compelling purpose, be honest, frank and open.

It is not just people, but the right people who are an organisations greatest asset.  So how do you go about attracting and retaining the talent you need to flourish in tough times?

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Filed under Hiring, Recruitment

McDegrees – are you loving it?

McDonalds has launched a two-year foundation degree in managing business as part of a wider initiative to offer employees a more attractive career path.  McDonalds is also offering employees the opportunity to go on to study a full Bachelor of Arts Degree and has been offering GCSE‘s and A – Levels to employees in – house since 2008.  Indeed 3000 English and Maths GCSE’s and 3000 A levels have been awarded each year since inception.

The foundation degree is accredited by Manchester Metropolitan University and begins this year with 53 students.  It is free for McDonalds staff.

McDonalds Chief People Officer, David Fairhurst, is reported to have said

“We view ourselves as much Educator as Employer“.

I think this is a great PR piece by McDonalds.  It ticks the investing in your people box, it is a novel yet practical way of attracting and retaining talent with clear benefits to employer and employee.  The psychological contract between both parties is strengthened and at a time when tuition fees are rising and traditional University places harder to come by it is a neat way of allowing people to achieve degrees whilst contributing to the strengthening of the organisations talent pool.

So what is the downside?

There is a huge amount of snobbery around (still) about the validity and strength of your degree.  Even now having a degree is not enough, where you got it from still counts with (some) employers.  This may change as those who are making the hiring decisions increasingly come from a more diverse educational background, but for now the problem exists for candidates in an incredibly fierce market.

In times of economic austerity and in particular the impact on education, McDonalds has struck on an innovative and interesting model from which they cannot lose.  Leave however and as the employee you’ll have a tough task with how your degree is perceived by a prospective employer.  I am concerned as to the value attributed to the McDonalds foundation degree and indeed BA program.  If you leave McDonalds, will your degree be taken seriously by future employers?

McDegrees to go?  Are you loving it?


Filed under Careers, Recruitment

The times they are “a-changing”

We are living through a revolution.  In years to come this period will be studied, picked apart, analysed, reviewed and commented upon in much the way that the Industrial Revolution is studied today.   The old rule book is being ripped up.  New rules are being written every day.  Its exciting and scary and in no place is this more keenly felt than in the jobs market.

Jobs for life are a distant memory.  There was a time when you left education, got a job and stayed with that employer until you retired.  That is almost impossible to comprehend today.  Research has suggested the latest wave of graduates will average between 3 and 5 career changes in their working lives.  The British Government is to scrap the default retirement age in 2011.  We are all living longer and working longer and working practices are changing rapidly.

I met with a client yesterday, an incredibly successful, dynamic, profitable, fast growing business.  There are no fixed working hours.  You can come and go as you please.  I don’t think I have ever met a happier, more committed group of employees.  Google has its 20% time.  It has had it since the day it began.  Each employee can dedicate one day per week to whatever project they want.  This is where Google gets its innovation from.  I know of employers who offer no fixed holidays.  You have a set of objectives to deliver, how and when you deliver them is entirely at the discretion of the employee.

Freelance working is booming in the UK.  A recent survey from http://www.PeoplePerHour.com evidenced more than half of small businesses interviewed used freelance workers at last once a month.  The earnings of freelancers have grown tenfold in the last 12 months, with each freelancer averaging take home pay of £2000 per month.  Home working is on the rise.  People are demanding more flexibility from employers, they wish to be treated like adults.  Our systems of work that are so dependent on the structures placed upon us by the education systems of generation Xers is being challenged by the expectations of generation Y.  This disruptive challenge is creating innovation in employee engagement.  Take Zappos, one of the most succesful retailers on the planet.  Have a look at the core values frog to understand how to genuinely engage with your people and build a great company at the same time.

A conversation recently with a successful company owner highlighted the challenges employers are facing.  He has had his company for 20 years.  It has operated very successfully in this time but is now really struggling to attract the talent it needs to realise its future ambitions.  This is a recent challenge, but they have not changed how they go about attracting and engaging with talent.  They are doing the same things today as they did 20 years ago and are struggling to understand why they are unable to meet the talent needs the organisation requires.  That adage if you always do what you always did you always get what you always got no longer applies.  You need to really understand what your employer brand represents today and both what you want it to represent and what it needs to represent in the future.

The right people are your greatest asset.  Think long and hard about how you attract, retain and engage with them.  The rules have changed, the times have changed.  Historically in a market with high unemployment the balance of power rests with the employer.  This is no longer the case.  If you want to attract the very best talent to your organisation think differently.  Long live change.


Filed under Employee Engagement, Hiring, Talent

Managing X and Y

A recent survey from the respected Economic Intelligance Unit highlighted attraction and in particular retention of top talent as critical to business success in 2010, behind only economic recovery and the availability of credit in terms of priority.

With 44% of employees now open to considering a move, how do you go about creating an environment that engages your key people, particularly those with different motivations?

Help is at hand once again from the fantastic people at BNET (www.BNET.com). Lynne Lancaster, co-founder of BridgeWorks, a generational diversity consulting company, explains how managers should deal with “Generation Y” employees who are impatient and demanding.

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Filed under Employee Engagement, Leadership, Talent