Australia, prepare for the new war on talent! | Selection Partners | Executive Recruitment, Melbourne

Australia, prepare for the new war on talent!

War on TalentAustralia, prepare for the new war on talent!

Since the global economic downturn, we have witnessed a spike in M&A activity (which can tend to be the case). We have seen:

  • The acquisition and re-branding of Abigroup and Bauldersone to Lend Lease;
  • Leighton Holdings Group acquired by ACS, which has then onsold John Holland to CCCC and merged Leighton Contractors and Thiess to rebrand to CPB;
  • Kajima investing in Icon Co; and
  • Laing O’Rourke has been put on the market (among many other movements).

Australia is now climbing out of the infrastructure drought, and in recent times major projects have been dropping left, right and centre. Below is a reference of current infrastructure megaprojects that are live in Australia now, as cut from my recent blog here).

War on talent chart

Infrastructure development is set to continue and even ramp up, particularly in Victoria where there are 50 Grade Separation projects set for the next 8 years, as well as Transurban’s Western Distributor and the highly topical Melbourne Metro Tunnel.

Where there was Baulderstone, Abigroup and Leighton and Thiess as separate Tier 1 Contractor entities, is now a hole for suitably placed contractors to enter the market here. Interested global contractors have been quick to establish a footprint in Australia, most successfully in my opinion being Bouygues. Bouygues have been in the successful consortia’s to win Northconnex, East-West Link (since cancelled by the Victorian Labor Government in lieu of the Grade Separations) and Toowoomba Second Range Crossing – each of which are high-profile $multi-billion infrastructure projects.

Other global names establishing their business in Australia include Samsung C&T, Acciona and WBHO among many others.  

Once all of this work kicks into gear, we will see ourselves in a renewed war on talent. By my estimate, this will start becoming a reality in about 6 months time.

So how do savvy businesses prepare themselves?

In a tight labour market, it is not a case of who has the projects or who pays the best always gets the best talent. Top talent are attracted by the company and its leaders, not the projects and/or the salary on offer (however these will always be a significant factor).

Culture is key!

(I raised this important issue in an earlier blog here). Having the right leaders in the business that lead by example, live the company culture, and thence can attract the right talent, is the heart of an enviable business. Once you have the right leaders in place, it is important to establish practices and policies to address the following:


Diversity can bring fresh ideas and perspectives to a business. This can assist driving innovation and nurture cultural understandings which can assist in working with clients of diverse cultural backgrounds and multi-nationals.

Succession planning

Identifying and developing employees with the potential to fill key business leadership positions in the company instils a sense of loyalty among employees. Succession planning shows staff that they can have a prosperous future with the business and increases the availability of experienced and capable employees that are prepared to assume these roles as they become available.

Mentoring and upskilling staff

Investing the time and resources to develop and upskill staff not only inspires loyalty, but ensures there are strong skills within the business that understand the company culture, and are able to step up when needed. Selection Partners’ HR Consulting business has a strategic partnership with a highly effective Mentoring digital platform that connects mentors with mentees via a simple, interactive and affordable online platform.

Grad programs

Get the right talent fresh from the source. New graduates are energetic, enthusiastic and more willing to adapt to your company culture.

Empowerment and accountability

Micromanaging will not only kill a company culture, but will suffocate initiative and innovation. Hire the right staff, and then make them accountable to achieve the agreed outcomes.

War on talent 2Remember, retaining staff isn’t ALWAYS for the best.

Mars Confectionery utilised Selection Partners to facilitate a fantastic workshop to assist their executives map out their future careers. The workshop was designed to offer complete transparency as to where in the world these staff members can find appropriate future career opportunities within Mars. Alternatively, to also consult to the Executives on opportunities outside of Mars to further develop their careers. This fascinating, and transparent approach allowed staff to map out and position themselves appropriately for their future careers, whether internal or external to the company.

This inspiring approach illustrated how effective the Mars succession plan is – even at the Executive level. It ensured their staff remained passionate about the company, remained continuously inspired and challenged; and if at a point where there are no future challenges, allowing transparency for these staff to seek more suitable employ. This in turn activates the Mars succession plan to allow new blood into the roles with fresh initiatives and drive, and provide for the next line of management to come through.

Improve recruiting and talent mapping

Savvy companies will align with a recruitment/search professional with acute industry knowledge. I refer to these few people as ‘Trusted Advisors’. These trusted advisors can become not only a great source of industry intelligence, have an in depth understanding of whom the talent is within the industry (and how to get them); but can also become an advocate for your business. A company reputation can easily be promoted by independent representatives in the market, especially trusted advisors. Aligning with a very good industry specific recruiter is more than just having a resource to find your next employee.

It is pertinent to be ahead of the curve. For when there is a war on talent, your reputation and relationship with the market will be your greatest asset. The time to initiate these practices is now.

If you are unaware of where to start, feel free to be in touch with Selection Partners for some free, friendly advice. Best of luck in 2016!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>