EFFECTIVE TALENT MANAGEMENT A N R S G W H I T E PA P E R • W W W . R S G - P L C . C O M
ABOUT RSG Built on over 35 years of trading history, RSG has grown organically, and through the acquisition of specialist services, into an established selection, assessment and solutions driven resource provider. RSGâ€™s focus is on strong partnerships; we have developed solid relationships with our candidates and clients since our inception in 1975 and this is reflected in the repeat business and referrals that our specialist companies receive. Our family of companies gives us an understanding across a variety of market sectors including: permanent and contract recruitment through to executive search, bespoke recruitment campaigns, advertising campaigns and total recruitment outsourcing. This knowledge empowers us to provide our clients with an independent, innovative and proven response, every time.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS RSG would like to thank all Debate participants for their valuable time and contributions. In particular, we would like to thank David Mason, Global COO Resourcing at RBS, for leading the Debate and Nicky Bizzell, Freelance Resourcing Specialist, for reviewing this white paper.
CONTENTS 02 About RSG 03 Contents 05 Foreword from David Mason, Global COO Resourcing, RBS 07 An Introduction from Mike Beesley, CEO, RSG 08 Effective Talent Management 08 Introduction 09 Successful Talent Acquisition 14 Managing Global Talent Increasing Global Mobility is Complex 18 Programmes to Accelerate Careers of High-Achievers 19 Women on the Board - Attracting and Managing Female Talent What should businesses be doing to increase the number of women on the board? 22 Young People - the Untapped Talent Pool Bristol Young Talent Case Study What steps can businesses and the Government take to combat youth unemployment? 27 Conclusion 28 Guest Profiles 30 Contact RSG
One of the greatest challenges facing companies across the world is how to attract and develop a strong pipeline of talent throughout their business.
FOREWORD One of the greatest challenges facing companies across
Our brand image was dented and consequently our
the world is how to attract and develop a strong pipeline
customers lost faith in the services we could provide,
of talent throughout their business. The concept of talent
which meant we had to focus on channelling our efforts
management is difficult for employers to tackle; defining
into our Customer Services and inspire confidence and
what ‘talent’ means to an individual business is often
loyalty back into our valued customers. Our resourcing
the first hurdle which must be overcome. Once this has
function had to re-organise to accommodate this new
been established, employers then have to decide upon a
culture - an example of the ever-changing nature of
strategy that will ensure the successful attraction of new
talent, alongside a process of managing, supporting and developing the selected individuals in their role.
My experiences have given me a unique and truly global insight into the issues concerning talent management,
Throughout my career I’ve faced these challenges in
which is why I’m delighted to have been invited to lead
varying degrees and on vastly differing scales; from
the RSG Debate on this subject. I was particularly keen
developing a UK wide resourcing strategy in my role as
to discuss the issue with other leading HR professionals
Head of Resourcing for AXA, to leading talent acquisition
in order to gain an insight into their approach, the
in over 20 countries during my time at CH2M Hill as
difficulties they have encountered and whether there
International Talent Acquisition Director. Most recently
is any common ground between our views on strategy
I find myself working for the Royal Bank of Scotland,
and solution. The outcome of our discussion lies in
where I have seen our entire resourcing function forced
this paper, alongside relevant research that has been
to adapt and transform in order to overcome the
conducted into the area by RSG.
damage we faced as a result of the near collapse and government rescue of RBS.
David Mason Global COO Resourcing, RBS
Without doubt, strategies that are consistent, continuous and inclusive are likely to be far more successful in the long run.
AN INTRODUCTION FROM MIKE BEESLEY CEO, RSG After more than 35 years in the recruitment industry,
The other issue is consistency. Many talent strategies
much of which has been spent working strategically
are often demand led, reacting to business needs with
with organisations to solve major resourcing issues, I
reference to the current week / month / year, yet, without
am consistently surprised at how few organisations
doubt, strategies that are consistent, continuous and
have an integrated talent management strategy.
inclusive are likely to be far more successful in the long run. The reality is that few organisations have the vision
In my experience, I’ve found that the appetite to build
or the energy to embrace this approach. Yet, what
an effective talent strategy continues to prove to be a
might look like the equivalent of Mount Everest in terms
top priority for most businesses. However, companies
of effort is, in reality, rather easier.
often cite numerous reasons for allowing the focus on talent management to fall by the wayside, from “our
It is against this backdrop that RSG decided to host a
organisation is going through a significant amount of
debate over dinner with some of the UK’s leading HR
change and when we are finished...” and “we have a
and Resourcing professionals at Bentley’s Oyster Bar
new CEO and we are waiting to see what changes are
& Grill, in Mayfair, London. Our guests represented a
likely to take place”, through to “I just haven’t had time.”
broad base of industries to discuss the many talent challenges businesses face. This white paper brings
Broadly speaking, if we assume that there are three strands to any talent management strategy - attraction, development and retention - most organisations get only one of these right. Now, more than three decades into my career, I can genuinely state with confidence that I can count on one hand the number of organisations I have encountered who have had a fully integrated and clearly planned talent management strategy which has withstood the test of time.
together their thoughts and personal experiences, in addition to industry research and RSG’s own extensive knowledge. The aim has been to uncover examples of best practice and innovative approaches to talent management. Finally, and not wishing to draw too many conclusions for you before reading this white paper, I can’t help but feel that an enormous opportunity to gain significant competitive advantage exists for those organisations who are keen to invest in their people strategies.
EFFECTIVE TALENT MANAGEMENT INTRODUCTION The term “talent management” has become increasingly
Talent management is a broad and complex area, which
common in the HR world since McKinsey coined the
is becoming a recurring topic on the board agenda
expression “the war for talent”. There is considerable
of many businesses. During the RSG Debate, the
debate within businesses about what constitutes
participants shared their experiences and successes
“talent”, how it should be managed and the importance
within this arena with a view to uncover examples of
of talent in driving organisational stability, development
best practice and innovative approaches towards talent
and change. It was to discuss these issues that some of
management and the changing nature of the talent
the UK’s leading HR professionals joined RSG’s thought
acquisition process. It is based on these discussions
leadership Debate at Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill in
that this white paper further explores the nature of
Mayfair, London. The group represented a variety of
some of the main challenges facing business as well
industries, from financial services and technology to the
as the approaches that can lead to effective talent
legal sector and NHS.
There is considerable debate within businesses about what constitutes “talent”, how it should be managed and the importance of talent in driving organisational stability, development and change.
SUCCESSFUL TALENT ACQUISITION RSG Debate participants emphasised the need for
a mere administrative function to developing into a
organisations to hire talented people in order to achieve
multi-channel sourcing strategy.
their strategic goals. Consequently, effective sourcing to secure the best talent is critical. Looking to gain
The creation of, and communication with talent pools
competitive advantage, businesses are re-evaluating
is an on-going activity, which, when managed well,
the way they source and engage with talent. Rather than
promotes employer branding and creates loyalty and
focusing on filling positions as quickly and cost-effectively
interest before a vacancy occurs. With this in mind,
as possible, it is evident that they are looking for ways to
organisations are likely to benefit from partnering with
improve the quality of the talent they attract directly and
an expert who understands their business objectives,
the subsequent experience of the candidates as they
creating bespoke sourcing strategies to attract the
move through the company’s processes. As such, over
best active and passive talent, as well as promoting
50% of organisations are moving away from solely using
outstanding candidate experience throughout the
job boards1 as a talent attraction tool.
process. It is critical to select appropriate marketing
Many of the organisations which took part in the RSG Debate are undergoing a significant cultural change. This is driven by the economic
“50% of organisations are moving away from solely using job boards as a talent attraction tool”.
climate, but also is due to clients’
channels and the tone of voice to promote vacancies to the external market to ensure a response from your target audience. Having analysed the pros and cons of
changing demands, the changing nature of business and
various sourcing channels such as social media, internet
the requirement to acquire different types of individuals
advertising, print advertising and recruitment agencies,
or skills. As stressed by Debate participants, developing
we at RSG concluded that effective recruitment cannot
a successful talent attraction strategy is of fundamental
importance in driving through the organisational shift
requirements vary from business to business as well as
that must follow. It is evident that talent acquisition has
department to department.
changed significantly over the past decade, from being
1. Aberdeen Group, 2012, “Strategic Talent Acquisition: Are you Prepared to Hire the Best?”
Despite the differences in roles and skills recruited and the approach to recruitment, RSG found that almost every recruitment challenge could be tackled by: Knowing what you will need to recruit and what â€œgoodâ€? looks like. This should be done through effective resource planning and job analysis, with an eye on what type of person your business needs to succeed in the future. Being honest about the level of talent you need. Not every role requires high talent. Identifying critical roles within the organisation and focusing on filling these roles with valuable high talent. Understanding candidate behaviour - knowing where the best people look for jobs and how you can reach the right audience; knowing the difference in behaviour between active and passive candidates. Understanding which sourcing channels are available to you and choosing the right approach depending on the type of person that you are looking to hire. Developing a strong EVP (Employee Value Proposition) â€“ the characteristics and appeal of working for you. This should accurately communicate why your employees enjoy working for you and, importantly, what makes you different as an employer. This should flow throughout your processes; from the systems you use, the emails you send, the interviews with hiring managers, your feedback and offer management. Utilising social media to engage with candidates and build relationships with the talent pool. Being aware that directly attracted candidates need more resource to manage them than agency candidates. The impact of poor management on directly attracted candidates can be greater than on agency candidates because they are likely to have made a greater connection with your EVP. Creating an outstanding candidate experience through consistent communication of your EVP, an efficient recruitment process and the enthusiasm and professionalism of everyone involved in the recruitment process.
RSG Debate participants also felt that it is equally
(predominantly LinkedIn and Twitter and, increasingly,
important to ensure that your Employee Value Proposition
Facebook for graduate and intern positions) to promote
(EVP) is authentic and truly reflects your corporate
their employer branding, engage with talent pools and
values. Organisations are in danger of losing valuable
to source talent. Websites such as YouTube are used
talent if they discover a mismatch in expectations
to provide potential talent with an authentic insight into
after joining the organisation.
the organisational culture and its people, as well as to
The effectiveness and
alignment of your EVP and your corporate values can
showcase any exciting initiatives and projects.
be measured through the analysis of attrition levels at 6 and 12 months tenure.
Despite an existing perception in some organisations
“It is often tricky to find talent for certain organisations with damaged EVP - as soon as you mention the name to potential candidates, they lose interest! We have worked with a number of our clients to help them develop and improve their employer branding and assist them with promoting their key benefits to potential talent pools”.
that employer branding is owned by the Marketing
Steve Phillips, Client Solutions Director, RSG
The importance of EVP cannot be underestimated in attracting and retaining global talent. According to a Towers Watson study2, EVP can be an effective tool in creating the right balance between employee preferences and employer needs – leading to stronger overall performance and improved financial outcomes.
collaborative effort involving key employees to act
However, social media can also have a negative impact
as “brand ambassadors”, creating brand awareness
on a company’s EVP. According to SHL research,
and communicating the main company messages to
2010: “36% [2007 survey by Personnel Today said this
potential talent pools.
would be 55%] would tell their family and friends about their negative experiences and 10% would use social
Employer branding was considered to play an important
media to make their feelings known.” This means that
role in organisational talent attraction strategies during
in some cases your EVP had been damaged before
the Debate. The impact of social media on recruitment
your interviewer even got back to their desk following
is huge with businesses using social media channels
If an organisation has damaged EVP candidates can swiftly lose interest. 2. Towers Watson, 2012-2013 Global Talent Management and Rewards Study”
With so many technological developments since this
the talent acquisition team, the business and marketing
research was conducted, it can only be assumed that
team is crucial. It also necessitates the need for the
these figures would now be significantly higher. How
talent acquisition team to ensure that their business is
would these figures translate in your business? This
fully engaged with multifaceted attraction strategies.
was the question a leading international law firm asked and used their analysis as the basis for their interviewing
With so much buzz and interest in social media, it is
understandable that some companies feel that they need to appear everywhere. However, just like with hard
The growth in the use of social media in recruitment
copy advertising, companies should focus on the social
is phenomenal; it is fast, efficient and cost-effective. It
sites that their target audiences are using. This helps
can, however, be a problem as well as an asset. Do
to create a clear and focused EVP as well as reducing
employers utilise multiple social media channels fully
and are they reaping all of the benefits? According to Aberdeen’s talent acquisition survey3, nearly half of the
The Group taking part in the RSG Debate also
participants are using social media to simply broadcast
emphasised the importance of inspirational leadership,
jobs to candidates. This, therefore, creates the need for
especially at CEO level, in an organisation’s talent
employers to have a meaningful and results-orientated
attraction strategy. If you have strong, passionate
social media attraction strategy, including research into
leaders, talent will follow and will want to work for
their targets’ behaviour patterns, so that they engage
your organisation. There is a strong demand for new
with them through the right channels. It was stressed
leaders and attracting leadership talent is, therefore, an
during the Debate that to take full advantage of the
essential part of the talent attraction strategy. More and
opportunities that social media presents, it is important
more organisations face a shortage of strong leaders
to ensure that an organisation’s social media strategy
at both executive and general management levels,
is consistent and continuous, and not only used when
suggesting they need to either intensify their search for
recruiting for a particular role.
external talent, identify and develop their internal talent, or combine the two.
However, does using social media in this way take away from some of the benefits highlighted earlier? Engaging
Talent attraction is only the first step in an integrated
with your candidates fully and meaningfully requires
talent management process. Subsequently, talent
resources that some companies do not have available
needs to be selected, retained and developed through
to them. In such circumstances, resource realignment
an integrated approach. According to Aberdeen Group4,
may be necessary. Another question is, who within your
as leading organisations evaluate integrated talent
organisation should be involved in the engagement and
management, they find a natural synergy between talent
how do you ensure consistent messages? Candidates
acquisition and succession planning. When aligned,
are keen to engage with the team and manager they
these processes can help organisations improve their
will be working with. This is where alignment between
organisational growth and readiness through a unified
3. Aberdeen Group, 2012, “Strategic Talent Acquisition: Are you Prepared to Hire the Best?” 4. Aberdeen Group, 2013, “A Unified Talent Pipeline: Integrating Succession Planning and Talent Acquisition”
talent pipeline that meets both current and future talent
businesses in theory want to take a more strategic and
needs5. However, in many companies these processes
aligned approach to recruitment, in reality are they
willing to invest time, budget and resource to take this
talent acquisition, and HR generalists, Learning &
approach? It could be a tricky balancing act when you
Development or Organisational Development functions
are under pressure to recruit.
own succession. RSG Debate participants stated that strategic talent The RSG Debate highlighted that often recruiters have
to fill vacancies without a clear understanding of the
experience can significantly improve organisational
internal talent available or the organisation’s future
performance. Employers, therefore, must ensure that
requirements. Clearly, recruitment in isolation is not
their talent acquisition strategies are aligned to their
effective. However, increasingly businesses expect
overall business goals. According to Aberdeen Group’s
their recruitment partners to understand their business
research7, 45% of organisations have a reactionary
needs, corporate culture and competitive pressures
approach to talent acquisition while only 3% have a long–
in order to give strategic advice to hiring managers.
term approach that aligns with business objectives. This
According to the research conducted by RSG in
presents a real opportunity for businesses to differentiate
partnership with APSCo6, a huge opportunity exists for
themselves and gain competitive advantage in the
recruitment organisations and Heads of Resourcing to
acquisition of the best talent. However, as identified
set themselves apart if they can meet this challenge.
above, with budget and resource pressures, this level of
Do these two groups have the skills, behaviours and
forward planning may be hard for companies to grasp.
business penetration to be able to meet this challenge,
Boards, therefore, should consider investing in their
or does the industry need to further develop in order to
talent management and acquisition teams in order to
give clients what they are looking for? In addition, while
capitalise on future talent.
While businesses in theory want to take a more strategic and aligned approach to recruitment, in reality are they willing to invest time, budget and resource to take this approach? 5. Aberdeen Group, 2013, ibid. 6. RSG in partnership with APSCo, 2011, “Indepenent Analysis into Perceptions of the Recruitment Industry” 7. Aberdeen Group, 2012, ibid.
MANAGING GLOBAL TALENT One of the questions at the heart of the RSG Debate was: â€œHow do you manage global talent?â€? The Debate participants spent considerable time sharing their views and experiences on this challenging topic. Evidently, talent management becomes very complicated for businesses operating in multiple markets, cultures, labour
globalisation of talent management is a trend that we expect to continue as companies expand internationally, with different markets presenting attractive business opportunities. What do international businesses need to do to attract and develop the very best employees on a global scale? Clearly a one-size-fits-all model does not work when there are so many complex issues to consider. However, companies that are showing signs of success are taking core principles, processes and policies and adapting the detail to fit individual organisational needs. UK principles tend to be the easiest to adapt when companies are using UK law as the basis of their legal system, e.g. in Anglophone environments. Cultural alignment is one of the most challenging areas to adapt, particularly in relation to gender, race or religious inequality. Asking some countries to adopt principles and policies that are not aligned to their culture will alienate them from the central business. In these situations patience and restraint are called for, as well as a watered down version of policies and processes.
Asking some countries to adopt principles and policies that are not aligned to their culture will alienate them from the central business.
INCREASING GLOBAL MOBILITY IS COMPLEX RSG Debate participants confirmed that international
environment - their role should be purely academic.
mobility is an increasingly common feature of today’s working environment. It is evident that global competition
When combined with an aging work force, where older
for talented people is tough worldwide with many
employees retire taking with them crucial, difficult to find
employers experiencing a talent shortage. There is also
skills, this represents a real resourcing challenge.
an increasing mismatch between the skill sets employers seek and the available talent. A leading international
During the Debate, considerable time was dedicated
employment agency estimates that 31% of employers
to discussing issues associated with international
worldwide find it difficult to fill positions because of talent
shortages in their markets8. Furthermore, 65% of global
international businesses have to deal with a wide
companies are having problems finding employees with
range of considerations and complexities during the
the skills they need9.
selection and management process where international
roles are concerned. Potential obstacles that must be These challenges occur despite there being a record
considered include adaptability, cultural sensitivity and
number of college and university graduates and relatively
family circumstances. Therefore, organisations need to
high levels of unemployment in some global markets.
provide their international assignees with the necessary
This is possibly explained by the fact that the required
support, such as cultural and language training, as
skill level is changing and the educational institutions
well as developing their transferrable skills for future
are failing to produce an adequate talent base to meet
placements in order to ensure that they are successful
the changing needs of the global employers. In fact,
in their roles. They should also understand and consider
some institutions go as far as saying that it is not the
the challenges of balancing careers and family life.
place of universities to prepare students for the working
International mobility is an increasingly common feature of today’s working environment. It is evident that global competition for talented people is on the rise. 8. Manpower, 2010, “Talent Shortage Survey” 9. Towers Watson, 2012-2013, Global Talent Management & Rewards study “The Next High-Stakes Quest. Balancing Employer and Employee Priorities”
Organisations need to provide their international assignees with the necessary support, such as cultural and language training, as well as developing their transferrable skills for future placements in order to ensure that they are successful in their roles.
In a report conducted by the Chartered Institute of
More than half of the survey12 respondents reported
Personnel and Development (CIPD)10, it was found that
difficulties retaining talent. The same study confirms that
working on an international basis for a period of time
when selecting candidates for international assignments,
brings definite benefits to the career and development
business needs are consistently cited as the most
of an individual. However, there is also a significant
popular criteria. Global businesses may be overlooking
amount of disruption for both the employee and their
other equally important factors. For example, only 16% of
family. If these disruptions are acknowledged and
companies consider family circumstances when making
carefully managed by the organisation, the benefits for
selections. And yet family and personal circumstances,
both the employer and the employees will be enhanced.
or a family’s inability to adapt to the host country’s
It is therefore essential that all the issues are carefully
culture are often reported as the primary reasons for
addressed before an employee actually starts on an
failed international assignments13. Irrespective of these
difficulties, only 35% of organisations taking part in the survey14 have developed special programmes to
Typically, successful global brands find it much easier to
promote international mobility.
attract the required talent. The culture and values of the organisation have to appeal to people and be something
In addition, employees often come back from their
they want to be part of. As indicated by the Debate
international assignments feeling demotivated and
participants, increasingly global businesses focus on
disillusioned by the organisation’s lack of interest in
selection based on cultural fit and mentality, as well
the experience they have gained; in some cases they
as traditional job-related skills and experience. Brands
return to find there is no job for them to go back to.
such as Accenture, BP and IBM, used as examples
Ernst & Young indicate that most companies have failed
during the RSG Debate, have global mobility embedded
to address the long-term trend towards globalisation
in their philosophy. By joining them, you are signing up
in their talent management programmes15.
to an international career and should be prepared to
two thirds of survey respondents (63%) say that their
be deployed anywhere. Towers Watson in their Global
organisations lack standard policies for managing the
Talent & Rewards study found that companies which
careers of international assignees, or do not know if
have highly effective global EVPs (Employee Value
their organisations have such policies. Nearly one-
Proposition) have three times as many highly engaged
third (32%) say their organisations have no consistent
employees as those with low global EVP effectiveness
talent management strategy for internationally mobile
(58% versus 16%)11.
employees, while almost half (47%) place little or no
importance on helping returning expatriates reintegrate The subsequent challenge is to retain and develop this talent, especially when their personal circumstances or career developments necessitate a change.
10. CIPD Factsheet, 2011, “International Mobility” 11. Towers Watson, ibid 12. Towers Watson, ibid 13. Towers Watson, ibid 14. Towers Watson, ibid 15. Ernst & Young, 2010, “Managing Today’s Global Workforce”
into the organisation.
PROGRAMMES TO ACCELERATE CAREERS OF HIGH-ACHIEVERS Talent management strategies should include advanced
rewards and underestimate the importance of EVP that
development of “high fliers” whilst at the same time
is vital in a highly competitive global market as it helps
managing the expectations of other staff. A number
to attract and retain high-performers by achieving the
of employers now have “top 250 global fast track” or
right balance between employees’ individual needs and
“top 100 fast track” talent programmes to accelerate
the careers of high-achievers. For example, PWC have Emerging Leaders Programmes, both in the
Furthermore, there are a number of sensitivities
UK and globally, which aim to create networks of
associated with managing fast track talent programmes.
emerging leaders. As discussed during the Debate,
It can involve difficult conversations with employees who
these programmes involve a tough selection process
do not meet the employer’s expectations and, therefore,
whereby chosen candidates are being continuously
are not selected as “high potentials”. If this process is
assessed, some of whom opt out at the outset as they
not conducted by HR professionals, it is essential that
are unprepared to make certain career commitments.
they prepare and train business managers to handle such conversations.
The prevailing sentiment from the RSG Debate participants was that it is essential not to marginalise the
It was stressed during the Debate that, in line with good
employees that either opt out, or are unsuccessful in the
HR practice, there should be a role for people who are
selection process. Companies must adopt an inclusive
not aspiring to the same level and they should still be
approach to talent management that encompasses the
managed properly and feel valued. As such, the quest
diversity of skills, experience and backgrounds found
for talent management should not detract from the need
within the workplace.
to keep the entire workforce motivated, especially as the way in which organisations manage staff who are
Employers face a real challenge in uncovering how
not considered “high-achievers” will have a bearing on
to keep this valuable talent energised and motivated.
overall talent acquisition and retention. It should also be
The recent Towers Watson Talent Management Survey,
remembered that some individuals may choose not to
which included 1,605 employers globally, found that
join high performance programmes because of personal
companies not only have difficulty attracting talent
circumstances, which may change in the future.
but also struggle to retain high-potential employees critical to increasing their global competitiveness16. The research also found that not all employers are taking advantage of opportunities to attract and retain highvalue employees. They focus too much on financial
16. Towers Watson, ibid.
There are many sensitivities with fast track programmes.
WOMEN ON THE BOARD: ATTRACTING AND MANAGING FEMALE TALENT The Grant Thornton International Business Report17
Research conducted by McKinsey &
for 2013 has shown that, while figures have increased
found that 64% of women in the US
promisingly since 2010, just 24% of Senior Management
saw a lack of female role models as a barrier to their
roles are currently filled by women. Similar results are
development, as well as finding that the majority of
also registered by the Women on Boards Report18 which
highly qualified women were less ambitious than their
illuminates that only 17.3% of FTSE 100 companies
male counterparts when aiming for top roles. Bearing
have female Board Directors (as of March 2013). These
in mind the constraints associated with senior roles in
results are staggering considering that women comprise
terms of both availability and flexibility, it is no surprise
more than 50% of the UK’s population and nearly half
that men are more often found reaching for high level
of the working population. So why don’t we see more
jobs given the current social environment, which
women on the board?
predominantly places the responsibility of childcare and domestic duties upon women’s shoulders.
The overarching feeling from RSG Debate participants was that the societal ‘double burden’, which still
The one area of business which flips the status quo on
predominantly rests upon women, may lie at the
its head is that of Human Resources, which continues
bottom of why many women feel they cannot aim for,
to attract and retain a female majority. There are many
or accept high level roles. Typically such positions
suggestions surrounding this area as to why more
require employees to display unfailing availability and
women work in HR, including the ‘naturalistic’ view that
total geographical mobility – assets which the majority
its perception as the ‘soft side’ of business appeals
of parents (women in particular) feel they are unable
more to women than men. However, the conclusions
to commit to. Support for this argument is evident in
drawn from the McKinsey research would argue that in
The Women on Boards Report, which shows that while
fact it is the significantly higher number of female role
male and female graduate entry into the workplace is
models in the HR sector that perpetuates women’s
relatively equal, beyond junior management positions
attraction to it. Interestingly, despite the fact that 72%
there is a marked drop in the number of females who
of HR roles are filled by women, just 40% of Directors
are promoted to senior level.
are female, which suggests that the effect of the ‘glass ceiling’ remains as seniority increases. This may also
The effect of a male-dominated environment on women’s
partially be due to women returning to the workplace
perceptions of their own capabilities should also be
at a lower level following a career break, or simply not returning at all.
17. Grant Thornton International Business Report, 2012 18. Women on Boards Report February, 2011 by Lord Davies 19. Mckinsey & Company “Women Matter”, 2007
The societal â€˜double burdenâ€™, which still predominantly rests upon women, may lie at the bottom of why many women feel that they cannot aim for, or accept, high level roles.
WHAT SHOULD BUSINESSES BE DOING TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF WOMEN ON THE BOARD? The concept of introducing quotas has raised much
debate. At the RSG Debate it was deemed that quotas
confidence of their female employees by focusing on
were an inappropriate method of ensuring more women
providing quality mentoring and networking programmes.
are on the board because any member of staff, whether
As the McKinsey Report22 highlights, this would help
male or female, should obtain their position because
to increase women’s awareness of the limitations they
they hold the right skills and ability - not because of their
impose on themselves, thus enabling them to manage
gender. In addition, quotas hold a sense of tokenism
their careers in a male-centric environment.
by suggesting that women in top roles have only made
programmes would be particularly beneficial in areas
it there by fulfilling a Government target. Furthermore,
such as engineering, which don’t attract high numbers
utilising quotas does nothing to alleviate the dehydrated
of female employees, by helping to gender-neutralise
pipeline of talent that precedes board level. As Louisa
the perception of them. However, ultimately changes
Peacock writes for the Telegraph20, there is no point
need to be made in both business and wider society
putting women at board level and fulfilling a Government
in order for there to be a real impact on the work
target, just to realise in a few years time that it has had
environment for female employees. As McKinsey writes,
no effect on the other levels in the workplace.
‘greater participation by women in corporate senior
management will require social environments that are It is important for businesses to consider increasing career
more supportive of working women’.
flexibility for both males and females. Fundamentally, there is no reason why a woman’s career path should be negatively impacted by the requirement for career flexibility, which would in fact enable both genders to manage the work-life balance more effectively. In order to retain and develop the very best talent, companies should be in a position to offer ‘personalised career paths’21, which would prevent females from dropping out of the talent pipeline and simultaneously encourage them to progress up the career ladder.
20. “Why we must never, ever introduce quotas for women on boards”, Telegraph Online, 10th April 2013 21. McKinsey & Company, ibid 22. McKinsey & Company, ibid
Quotas are an inappropriate method of ensuring women are on the board because any member of staff should obtain their position through skill and ability alone.
YOUNG PEOPLE - THE UNTAPPED TALENT POOL Young people are widely considered an undervalued
deem as ‘basic’, such as writing a tailored cover letter,
market, yet many businesses don’t know how to
completing a CV or knowing what to wear and how to
effectively tap into the undiscovered talent that dwells
behave at an interview. The process of applying for a job
in the school-leaver and graduate sectors.
can also be a demoralising experience, particularly due to
ways there has been erosion over the last 20 years in
a lack of feedback offered from prospective employers.
the youth development activities that companies used
A large majority of school-leavers are unaware of how
to offer. Tighter margins and tougher targets mean that
to structure a job search, often taking a one-size-fits-all
managers want to use their often limited headcount
approach to their CV and sending the same application
for experienced hires. They are deemed easier to hire
for a number of different vacancies. This results in a
and need less support to be effective. However, as
cycle where businesses receive an excessive number
mentioned earlier in the report, with an aging population
of irrelevant CVs for which they simply cannot provide
this is not something that is sustainable.
individual feedback. The lack of feedback means that young candidates do not learn how to improve their
During the RSG Debate, it was suggested that another
application and so do not increase their chances of
problem facing both employers and young people is a
success in the future.
mismatch of expectations. Employers are expecting too much from young employees in terms of their experience
and skills and young applicants between the ages of 16
considered one of the greatest hindrances employers
– 24 are unaware of what is expected of them in the
face when recruiting young people. Typically employers
recruitment process and working environment.
want to take on young people who have a substantial amount of hands-on work experience, yet in many of
In a report conducted by the Chartered Institute of
the more competitive industries, obtaining a wealth
Personnel and Development (CIPD)23, it was found that
of experience before graduation is extremely difficult,
for the majority of young people facing unemployment
particularly if internships, apprenticeships, or work
(currently 1 in 5 in the UK), the recruitment process
placements are not offered as part of a student’s
is a daunting one. While there are numerous support
studies. It is a bleak situation that many graduates find
systems in place for
students who wish to attend
themselves in: no job, no experience; no experience, no
university, across the board there is a staggering lack of
job. While a lack of experience by no means equates
guidance given to those who take an alternative route.
to an applicant being unable to fulfil a job role, many
Students who don’t go to university leave the education
recruiters fail to give young people the chance to prove
system unprepared for the transition into the workplace
themselves, thereby missing out on an entire talent pool
and are often ill-equipped with the skills employers
23. CIPD ‘Employers are from Mars, Young People are from Venus’ Report, Research Report April 2013
CASE STUDY: RSG BRISTOL YOUNG STUDENT OF THE YEAR AWARDS
Martin Marafko, 17 Winner of the Bristol Young Student of the Year Awards 2013 “My experience of career guidance at school was very basic.
I attended mock interviews, but still felt
very inexperienced and unprepared for attending real interviews. When I first heard about the Bristol Young Talent Awards, I jumped at the chance to enter, especially when I saw that you could gain work experience with
The RSG Bristol Young Student of the Year awards is
companies such as RSG and Atkins.
a six-month competition for 16-19 year old students aimed at developing employability skills in young
The competition illuminated just how competitive the job
people. The competition is free to enter and is open to
market really is. I was under the same misconception as
all state schools, colleges and academies in the Bristol
most young people are: good grades equates to a good
region. It provides young people with tangible business
job. Now I know that work experience, confidence in
experience by getting them to work directly with local
the workplace and knowing how to promote yourself
companies. Throughout the competition students have
against your competitors are the most important skills
the opportunity to work in real life business situations
in getting ahead. You don’t get taught these skills in
with the support of leading professional mentors.
In addition to the awards, students have the fantastic
As a young person who has experienced school-
opportunity to apply for a scholarship worth £15,000 at
level career guidance and come out the other side of
BPP University College. Paid work experience as well
the Young Talent Awards, I believe that schools in no
as cash prizes are also awarded to the winners to help
way prepare students for working life. Career paths,
them along their career path.
particularly for the most competitive jobs, aren’t made clear enough and therefore students have no idea what steps they can take to achieve their goals. We leave school physically and psychologically unprepared to enter the work place. If I were Education Minister, I would introduce regular work courses that allow students to take up regular and varied work experience placements, as well as teaching them how to prepare, dress and present themselves at an interview.”
WHAT STEPS CAN BUSINESSES AND THE GOVERNMENT TAKE TO COMBAT YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT? Firstly, the education system needs to address the
Therefore, schools should liaise with local businesses to
current level of career guidance offered to students.
ensure that focussed work experience placements are
Many educational institutes state that they offer career
created, which take students through the entire process
guidance programmes, but their quality and value to
of applying for a job and entering the workplace.
students is questionable. The lack of effective career
Furthermore, it is essential that these placements
advice in schools is seen as a contributing factor to
conclude with insightful feedback that the student can
those who are unaware of what employers expect from
then use to improve their future job applications.
them or what opportunities are available.
career advisors cannot be experts in all fields; however
Secondly, it was agreed that in the majority of instances,
RSG Debate members involved with youth development
the recruitment process can be tailored to suit younger
programmes cite examples of extremely misleading
applicants. RSG has found a significant positive effect
advice given, particularly regarding the legal industry.
in the attraction and recruitment of young people if the
With the development of the government and industry
employers involved in the recruitment process are of
led initiative Plotr (the one-stop shop for career
a similar age. Put simply: young people recruit young
inspiration and preparation), it is hoped that there will
people. Furthermore, standard competency based
be improvements in this area.
As part of the National
interviews are unhelpful as young people cannot draw
Curriculum, schools should be continually assessed
on past experiences, meaning employers donâ€™t get a
on the career guidance they offer in order to motivate
true reflection of the potential they have to offer.
them to improve their services. The basics of job application should be instilled in students before they leave the classroom to help alleviate the stress of job hunting, which will simultaneously improve the quality and relevance of job applications. RSG Debate participants were also unanimous in the belief that work experience should once again become an essential part of the curriculum. Utilised in conjunction with solid career guidance, work experience placements would offer a practical outlet for students to apply the skills learnt within the classroom.
The education system needs to address the current level of career guidance offered to students.
On the other hand, strength-based interviews, where
young people to gain truly valuable, hands on experience
candidates suggest how they would work in different
within the workplace. Such programmes will allow
situations, allow employers to gain an understanding
students to become familiar with the work environment,
of how the applicant can be trained and developed.
gain experience of the job application procedure and
Companies should also review their talent attraction
help them to build connections with employers. In
strategy to ensure they utilise the many tools social
addition, they will illuminate more possibilities and
media has to offer. In addition to being highly cost
career options to those students who do not wish to
effective, social media allows businesses to attract
a wide network of talent as well as enabling them to specifically target the people they need.
However, some of the organisations represented in the RSG Debate, do offer work experience and feedback
With regards to feedback, it remains unrealistic to
programmes and have found it difficult to engage with
expect that individualised comments can be provided
schools and colleges regarding work experience. They
to all applicants. However, as suggested by CIPD24,
found a surprising lack of interest from schools and
automated emails should be utilised to acknowledge
colleges, particularly outside of London. Considering
the receipt of an application. Similarly, unsuccessful
the resource, investment and commitment needed
applicants could receive an email listing the most
to run work experience programmes, this feedback
â€˜commonâ€™ reasons for not obtaining an interview as well
is disappointing. As mentioned previously, some
as advice on how they can improve. For those applicants
institutions have said that they do not feel that workability
who make it through to the interview/assessment
skill development is the responsibility of educational
phase, constructive feedback should be given to help
establishments. In order to gain maximum advantage
young people improve their skills and encourage them
for young people, a greater balance of responsibility
to try again.
between employers and educational institutions needs to take place, with both sides improving their support
Finally and perhaps most importantly, more graduate schemes,
placements should be created by businesses to allow
24. CIPD, ibid
and commitment in order to develop future talent.
There is still considerable opportunity for most businesses to create a cohesive, intergrated talent management strategy aligned with their business objectives to enable them to reap the benefit from their investment.
CONCLUSION The RSG Debate provoked much opinion and raised
As Ernst & Young state25: “In today’s global market,
a number of critical issues in the area of talent
people success consists of aligning your company’s
management. As it drew to a close it was apparent that,
vision, values and strategy with its management of
despite the diverse range of organisations participating
people and integrating the key components of your
in the Debate and their unique circumstances, most
talent management programmes so they form a
businesses face similar talent management challenges
to which there are no easy answers or quick fixes. If you would like to find out more about the services It is evident that although businesses have made
RSG provides, please contact Mike Beesley, CEO, RSG
significant progress in raising the awareness of talent
management and have taken steps towards its successful implementation, a lot of organisations are still
If you are interested in taking part in future RSG round
not fully embracing the talent management challenges.
table debates, either as a lead speaker or a participant,
There is, therefore, still considerable opportunity for
please email firstname.lastname@example.org
most businesses to re-evaluate and create a cohesive, integrated talent management strategy aligned with
If you would like to comment on this white paper please
their business objectives to enable them to reap the
use the Twitter tag #RSGdebate.
benefits from their investment.
25. Ernst & Young, ibid
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Ross Crook, EMEA, Head of Resourcing at Ace Group
Mark Boorman, HR Director at IPL
Since April 2012, Ross has been responsible for all
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Since graduating from the University of Lancaster, Matt has developed an impressive record of generalist and specialist positions in HR in a variety of companies including Mitel, GE and Airbus. With experience in
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