Winning the war for talent

How start-ups and scale-ups can attract and retain the skills they need to grow

For the past 20 years or more, the so-called war for talent has been raging across the corporate world with a plethora of books and articles appearing on how companies can best attract and retain the talent they need. While big brands, deep pockets, great employee benefits used to make for an attractive proposition, it seems that today’s millennial workforce values more than just perks and financial rewards - and that’s where new firms could win out.

With no established corporate culture or reputation on the market for how they treat employees, start-ups have a clean slate when it comes to establishing the kind of culture they want, and can be seen as a fresh alternative for top talent keen to work in a different sort of environment. Tech talent especially tends to focus on greater engagement and challenge, they look for places that offer them opportunities to grow and to be part of a new venture - which offers start-ups real a real advantage.  

Today's millennial workforce values more than just perks and financial rewards

So how do they capitalise on that? With little room for error in a fast-growing business, the right mix of skills is critical to long-term success, meaning start-ups and scale-ups need to get their recruitment right first time.

Based on our experience, we’ve compiled a list of five key questions that start-ups should consider when devising a hiring strategy:

1. Does your recruitment model reflect longer-term needs as well as immediate ones?

It’s important to integrate workforce planning into business planning from the start to make sure your people strategy evolves in step with your firm. Recognising how the adoption of emerging technologies can free up your workforce to focus on more rewarding activities is both attractive to new recruits and reassuring for the existing workforce.

People’s relationships with organisations are also becoming more fluid; it’s unlikely that it’ll be practical or affordable to maintain all skills in-house, long term, figuring out where and how to engage flexible talent, such as freelancers and contractors, is increasingly important.

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2. Is unconscious bias limiting your search?

Continuing to recruit from the same places means you risk missing the diversity you require to take the business to the next level.

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3. Are you searching for the right skills?

Finding the interpersonal skills, out-of-the-box thinking, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving capabilities that could benefit your business may require a different approach to recruitment.

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4. Are you nurturing the people you have?

Fresh ideas and approaches are vital to growth. Before looking for these outside, it’s worth seeing if there’s untapped potential within your existing workforce. Developing employees to help them reach their full potential helps improve retention, saving time and money, and helping identify potential future skills gaps.

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5. Are you positioning yourself in the right way?

It’s all too easy to forget that telling the story of the business is exactly what may engage future employees - especially if they can see themselves in it. Ask employees and business partners to also share their stories. They may demonstrate that your firm’s exactly the place top talent’s looking for.

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Contact us

Tom Verboven

Director, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 47 456 2811

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