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How can Aussie businesses attract and retain their talent

By Kace O'Neill | |5 minute read

Talent retention in the current labour market is a priority for all organisations across Australia. So, how do they ensure it happens?


Many sectors, such as mining, construction, and IT, are currently subjected to an ageing workforce, and there is a desperation to attract and retain young talent to fill those vacant positions.

Despite the ongoing demand for these roles, unfavourable perceptions and connotations of these industries have lessened the keenness of young workers.

Furthermore, industries that require physical labour have also experienced a decline in the attraction of young talent. Although some sectors have responded by raising base salaries, several positions remain vacant, underlining the importance of addressing demographic and perceptual challenges in these important industries.

Ben Thompson of Partners in Performance has offered a more strategic approach to retaining or attracting talent while still maintaining a sustainable, profitable, long-term business. He breaks it down into four key areas that businesses can focus on to restrengthen their workforce.

  • Investing in talent more strategically: Improving recruitment and retention requires a comprehensive approach that focuses on a package of benefits. While competitive base salaries are important, investing in work rotations, transportation options, and sometimes neglected benefits can be just as beneficial in the long run. Investing in workshops, graduate programs, and mentorship can be the key to success, as it demonstrates to young people that they are recognised and supported.
  • Recruitment is an investment, not a cost: Prioritising unit cost over absolute cost in recruiting talent demonstrates a smart, forward-thinking mindset. While absolute cost only considers the total cost of recruiting, unit cost examines the value and efficiency of each recruitment investment. By considering unit cost, companies acquire a more nuanced understanding of the return on investment for each talent acquisition initiative. This technique helps businesses assess the effectiveness of various recruiting methods, technology, and procedures, allowing for more informed decision making and resource optimisation.
  • Zero-base your organisation: Zero-based thinking is a decision-making and problem-solving technique that encourages individuals to assess issues without being affected by prior investments, decisions, or circumstances. Leaders who use zero-based thinking as a strategic approach understand value. This involves identifying the jobs required for an end-to-end optimised production process, assessing crucial support, and calculating the optimum personnel for each function.
  • Long-term stability: Strategic investments in recruiting and retention are critical to ensuring long-term organisational stability. Regardless of sector, all businesses require innovation, efficiency, and agility to thrive. Some claim that the next generation of graduates is most prepared for this criterion due to their drive and eagerness to learn. Companies that continue to invest in people in a cost-effective, future-oriented manner will prosper even in adverse market conditions.

Identifying new strategies like these can be a way forward for industries, organisations, and businesses to improve their chances of attracting and retaining young talent. Ultimately, businesses should work to provide current employees opportunities to grow in their workforce. Being stagnant in a role is not what workers want; they want that chance to keep improving.

Businesses should provide employees with the skills they need to survive in today’s changing climate, regardless of their career path.

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill is a Graduate Journalist for HR Leader. Kace studied Media Communications and Maori studies at the University of Otago, he has a passion for sports and storytelling.