Big companies attract the greatest talent

A good boss lets the best talent pull out

In times of a shortage of skilled workers, it becomes more important for companies to offer their employees prospects. In everyday work, however, the benefits of employee development are still not being used enough. Superiors in particular have to rethink.

“Our employees are the guarantors of our success”, “Employees are the most valuable resource”, “Employee development is our top priority at all levels” or “We want to keep top performers in our company over the long term” - employee development is capitalized in the company brochures.

The reality in companies is not infrequently different. Employee development is rarely practiced, there are no processes for it, or managers fail to develop the potential of their employees. The advantages are obvious when companies offer their employees prospects.

Open positions can be filled more quickly and cheaply with internal candidates, and the staffing changes between the departments improve cooperation within the company. Companies also hope that employee development will ensure that employees are more motivated, more committed and remain loyal to the employer for longer.

This argument is particularly important in times of increasing shortage of skilled workers. Companies are looking for ways to prepare for demographic change and are adapting to the changing requirements of the next generation.

Younger employees increasingly wanted to do a meaningful job and always want to learn new things, says Ben Williams, CEO of the US company Spencer Stuart, which specializes in executive search. The “millennials” have a reputation for changing employers again quickly. However, this is mainly due to the fact that they have no development opportunities within the company.

Talent management is no longer just a part of the HR departments, but the issue is increasingly coming up on the boards of directors. "The companies see this as a key success factor that must be driven from the very top," says Williams. When companies promote employees according to their talents, their potential is best exploited, and employees are almost automatically engaged and motivated because they do a job that suits them.

The employee as a brand

What sounds plausible is not that easy to implement in everyday work. What is needed above all is a change in culture and a new understanding of leadership. Superiors must recognize the potential of their employees and create the framework conditions so that they can contribute their skills to the organization. There is still potential to catch up. Superiors are often too unwilling to support employees in their area - and at best to let them move to another department. There is great concern that this will lead to the loss of the best talent.

Companies like Migros or UBS are aware of this problem and are promoting a corresponding cultural change. "We are in the process of changing the understanding of leadership and promoting the culture of cooperation," says Migros. UBS is also in the middle of such a process.

According to Andreas Schiesser, Co-Head Talent & Recruiting at UBS, a corporate culture should be created in which the superiors are proud not only to promote and support talented people in their field, but also to recommend them for other areas . “The supervisor should become the brand that the employees want to work for,” says Schiesser. How well the bosses perform this task is assessed by the employees and is included in the overall assessment.

The supervisor, who may lose the best employees to another department, will in turn find it easier to attract talent for his team because they know that they will be promoted and supported in their careers. In everyday life, however, the bosses usually face many challenges and have to bring very different goals under one roof. You are professionally involved yourself, have everyday problems to solve or administrative work to do.

The promotion of employees takes a back seat - with far-reaching consequences. “The development of employees is the most important task of managers,” says Matthias Mölleney, Head of the Center for Human Resources Management & Leadership at the University of Economics and former HR manager at Swissair.

But the bosses are still not hired enough according to their abilities, to recognize the potential of people and to promote them according to their strengths. It is also rare that team leaders are trained to develop their employees. "If the managers do not take on this task, however, the fine words in the company brochures remain," says Mölleney.

When filling vacancies, UBS prefers internal candidates whenever possible. According to Schiesser, internal candidates would have the advantage that they knew their way around the bank and already had a UBS network. Other corporations have similar goals. Migros points out that it mostly prefers internal candidates due to their experience in retailing and familiarity with the structures.

At Credit Suisse it is said that almost every second position has been filled with internal employees over the past few years. Novartis Switzerland, for example, generally prefers internal candidates, and Coop fills over three quarters of the vacant management positions internally.

It all depends on the mix

Filling vacancies internally is undoubtedly beneficial for companies. Nevertheless, according to Mölleney, a good mix between internal and external appointments is necessary. Because every company not only needs stability and continuity, but also impulses and fresh ideas from outside. In addition, the internal candidates do not always have the know-how they are looking for.

If companies promote their employees in their professional development, there is a risk that they will lose the best talent to competitors. Because they invest a lot in training and further education and offer their employees career prospects, they are also more attractive for external specialists - and former employees.