Covid has seriously raised society’s expectations for the way a company behaves towards its people. A ‘people-first approach’ is now vital for sustainable growth. This means treating people like humans, not resources. Resources are a means to an end. People are ends in themselves. We all have an individual purpose. Rather than being ‘managed’, we need to be led, inspired, and offered future perspectives.
Every person or function is a business success factor. So leaders must connect with people, understand and appeal to their individual motivators. Success means different things to different people (whether career advancement, more family time while paying the mortgage, time and money for personal passions) and companies need to take into consideration these different aspirations.
Every person or function is a business success factor.
People don’t change jobs for jobs, but for people
Our interactions with executives in Luxembourg make it resoundingly clear that salary is not the most important attraction factor. When considering a job offer, people don’t only examine work conditions; flexible hours, paid holidays and pension schemes, but also team size compared to workload, the overall reputation of an organisation, and the reputations of the team members. At executive level, everybody knows more or less everybody on the local market. Before even looking at a job description, you can expect executives to be doing their due diligence on your company. Any information is only two phone calls away – including insights about internal team dynamics and the work atmosphere. People don’t change jobs for jobs, but for people.
As an employer, once a company has acquired a good reputation, they’d better keep it. Every misstep will be remembered for a few years (at least). And in such a small market, a damaged reputation is very difficult to fix.
In Luxembourg, everything is based on trust. High-level candidates need to have confidence in a company before sending their resume. They don’t want the whole city to know they’re considering a move. Before accepting a first meeting, they’ll usually discreetly seek references on the market about the hiring organisation. They will be just as concerned about the reputation of the executive search firm who is acting as the interface in the hiring process.
Wise leadership and greater control are the main career aspirations
How do these local experiences reflect international trends? For Amrop’s most recent international study , the 2021 Amrop Talent Observatory, the firm personally approached 443 senior executives from across the world who had recently been shortlisted for a senior position with a hiring organisation. As such, they were in a reflective and ‘organisation-assessing’ state of mind.
The study found that executive career aspirations are being reshaped by two main factors:
1 – The desire to experience and practise wise leadership (ethical, responsible and sustainable), even if this may mean some loss of short-term gain over long-term results.
2 – The desire to have greater control over their own destiny. The emphasis is shifting from highly engineered organisational structures to more self-organising, fluid ecosystems that are collaborative and trust-based.
Organisations that skilfully resolve these tensions will be well positioned to attract and retain the most outstanding talent.
As an employer, prepare for tough questions
Many companies fail to see that today’s executive market is a candidate market. How do you consolidate your employer brand while attracting the best talent? Some quick tips:
1. Ensure that your executive search partner (if you use one) is a trusted ambassador for your employer brand.
2. Share pertinent business information with them and the candidates (financial and corporate data).
3. Be clear and open about your organisation’s strategy, culture, leadership style and performance criteria.
4. Prepare to be examined by candidates; they will come with their own tough questions on your values and vision. ESG is very high on their agenda.
5. Provide timely and clear feedback at different stages of the hiring process.
6. Ensure prompt scheduling and courteous handling of interviews, be flexible in accommodating candidates’ own schedules.
7. Refrain from ‘under the radar’ approaches to investigate candidate backgrounds. It is a small world; people (and candidates) talk, and this discovery can ruin your employer branding. Executive search is confidentiality-sensitive and absolute discretion is paramount. Your executive search partner will perform diligent reference checks for you as part of the service.
8. Remember that candidates’ experience of the recruitment process is part of your employer brand, and this also applies to those who do not end up joining. Treat them as you would like to be treated if you were in their shoes.
Remember that people contribute to companies for mutual benefit.
One last piece of advice: remember that people contribute to companies for mutual benefit. And depending on their experience, they’ll spread the good word about their (potential) employer. Or not.
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