Hiring top talent
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How do top companies attract top talent?

4 Nov 2016

Work-life balance is changing. Our jobs are following us home and there’s a higher demand for a happy work environment. But what do companies need to do to provide the perfect work life?

It’s no longer considered a surprising perk when companies offer a comfortable salary or generous holidays. Of course, it still helps, as basic benefits and decent wages are still a major factor when candidates are choosing where they want to work.

However, with some of the biggest companies in the world such as Google, Facebook and Salesforce shouting about their additional perks and encouraging work environments with pride, it’s going to take a lot more to tempt the top talent to come to you.

So what do companies have to do these days to fight for the best candidates? How do organisations attract the perfect team to work for them, aside from competitive salaries?

“It varies from organisation to organisation,” said James Milligan of Hays Recruitment. “Large tech companies tend to offer work on leading-edge technology or products, and this makes them attractive to candidates. More traditional organisations and consulting firms may give candidates broader access across organisations, which means that they don’t get siloed within one function and enjoy the opportunity to have many different jobs in one company.”

Training and development

According to Milligan, the key to attracting and retaining the best in the business is to nurture and train them. “When it comes to permanent hiring, the primary factors that influence decision-making in talented candidates (providing that the salary is in line with the market) include investment in them as an individual, from both a career progression and upskilling perspective.”

Storm Technology does just that when it comes to retaining its top talent. The company developed the Storm Academy to support the development of its employees’ careers. “It is where all your development opportunities are housed for ease of access,” said Colm Molloy, director of human resources at Storm. “It also advertises external programmes [that] we as a business see as important for your development.”

Storm is not the only company with a development facility. Just this year, the Aon Centre for Innovation and Analytics launched its own Aon University, with a score of learning paths across many disciplines, which are available to anyone who would like to invest time in their personal growth. “In addition, we continue to develop progressive in-house talent programmes, built on feedback and ideas collated via an all-colleague engagement survey each year,” said Oisin O’Gogain, HR leader for Aon Ireland.

Happy workforce

Aon recognises the need to keep its workforce happy, with social events and fitness initiatives as well as training. O’Gogain said the company places a massive emphasis on its colleagues’ wellbeing. “They can choose from a multitude of fitness initiatives for all levels, programmes to help develop healthy eating habits or a better work-life balance. They can become the best version of themselves by getting involved with our charity activities, availing of powerful personal branding sessions, career planning tips, or resilience development and more.”

Along with remuneration packages and annual flu vaccinations, Storm also provides fun, social perks for its employees such as in-house yoga, Xbox matches and quick-quiz Fridays. “Having a strong sense of enjoyment on the job is important to us. We can’t work all the time, so we ensure we provide initiatives to our people to be themselves,” said  O’Gogain.

Biopharma company Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) attracts top talent by raising the profile of the company. “We have a communications programme to tell stakeholders about our mission, the promise of this facility, and what it is like to work at BMS,” said Noel Heaney, general manager of BMS Biologics, Cruiserath.

BMS has the right idea. Milligan says a key driver for most companies is “the ability to tell a compelling story about why someone should work there”. He also cited flexible working hours, autonomy and working with cutting-edge technologies as important factors when bringing the most talented workers to the surface.

For Irish-owned tech company Asavie, focusing on a positive cultural environment and ongoing feedback is the key to keeping its workforce productive. “Rather than focusing on optics (although having a brewery in your office is quite the perk), we have focused on matching the physical environment with the cultural environment of the company,” said Paul Regan, head of organisational capability and people at Asavie.

“Our fantastic new offices offer a beautiful environment for people get to give of their best. We pay competitive salaries combined with top-class healthcare, life insurance, pension and bonuses as well as providing tailored technical and personal development for each member of the team.”

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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