Talent doesn’t want a war they want value

There’s some colourful descriptions of the state of the workplace today – there’s the Great Resignation, the Great Reshuffle and even Quiet Quitting. 

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I may not be a fan of these, admittedly catchy, memes but it’s true we live in an interesting and unique time. There are a number factors impacting the competitive talent landscape and they will require organisations to sharpen their approach to attracting and retaining employees.

“The world of work has fundamentally shifted and COVID will have a lasting impact on the global workforce.”

What is happening in the talent market and why?

Globally, the employee market remains extremely competitive with demand for talent exceeding supply.  Australia has the second highest skills shortage in the OECD1 and has record breaking job advertisements.

For example, SEEK’s job advertisements are up by 40 per cent in two years – the highest in the 23-year history of the data.  It’s a similar picture globally: according to Gartner3, 49 per cent of candidates who accepted a job offer in 2021 had at least three offers to consider.

Organisations are also experiencing high employee turnover which is creating significant productivity challenges. Turnover rates vary by industry but 9.5 per cent of the Australian workforce changed their employer in February 2022, according to data from AI Group.

To some extent this is to be expected with a backlog of postponed turnover during COVID-19. But even allowing for this, organisations are faced with both attraction and retention challenges simultaneously.

There is speculation a looming recession could ease this pressure as growth eases. However, it is unlikely to be enough to close the gap between demand for talent, especially niche skills, and candidate supply. 

So why is this happening? On the one hand, closed borders and visa delays have reduced the size of talent pools. The pace of digital transformation has also accelerated over the last few years due to the impacts of COVID and the increased use of digital channels. This has also added pressure to contractor and project-based roles.

But it’s more than this. It’s not just about economics. The world of work has fundamentally shifted and COVID will have a lasting impact on the global workforce. We’ve heard the cliché that employees have a new “worth it” equation and are questioning what they want from work and their employer – 38 per cent of Australians want to leave their employer, with pay and wellbeing as the top drivers, according to PwC.

The “worth it” equation being asked is also partly because we are seeing generational shifts in attitudes towards work where employees are re-evaluating the role of work in life and what they need to sacrifice. But it is also because employees are working longer hours and face fatigue and burn out. 

How are organisations responding?

From an attraction perspective, organisations need to explore creative ways to tap into diverse talent pools. They also need to understand where their retention hotspots exist and use data to help inform why employees are leaving and what strategies they need to address these issues where feasible.   

A common response to the competitive talent market is through traditional levers to attract and retain talent – significantly higher salaries, accelerated promotions and retention bonuses. These levers, while often important, are tactical, costly and can become entrenched.

However, there is a massive opportunity for companies to sharpen their people value proposition – what a company offers employees in response to what an employee values and is compelling in choosing to stay with one organisation over another. 

These can be quantifiable. For example compensation, leave, flexibility benefits. Or intangible like the values and culture of an organisation. An organisation needs to continually track, monitor and respond to changes in talent expectations and market conditions, adjusting their proposition according to changing employee and candidate needs.

It’s also important the value proposition is aligned to the purpose and goals of the organisation as organisations can’t be all things to all people. For example, we are seeing some organisations in different parts of the world trial a 4-day work week. However there is no point in offering this benefit if the organisation doesn’t believe this measure is right for both the people and the organisation. 

How is ANZ responding?

Like many organisations, ANZ faces the challenge of attracting talent. We are facing a decrease in applicant numbers and an increase in the time it takes to recruit. We sometimes are challenged in “closing” candidates who have multiple offers.

We also have some retention hotspots including those with in-demand skills such as data and software engineering capability. We are proactively managing these retention hotspots, understanding the root causes and using data to inform our way forward on the interventions that will have the most impact.

For example, we have strengthened our exit survey data to provide richer information on why people are leaving and we are developing a career pathways framework for some business lines to provide greater visibility and optionality regarding careers at ANZ.

From an attraction perspective, we know we can offer all our people interesting and challenging work. And our people benefit from this in three ways:

  • Knowing they are doing something purposeful and important – because their work has a direct link to our purpose which is to shape a world where people and communities thrive
  • Knowing they are investing in their career – by gaining valuable experience from the work they do while opening access to many new opportunities and new experiences ANZ’s scale can provide
  • Knowing we can offer a workplace where people can bring their whole self to work – where we leverage and celebrate the value of diversity. This is one of the reasons 89 per cent of our people feel they belong at ANZ and why we hear so often from candidates, new joiners and recruitment professionals that we are well known for looking after our people

These factors form an important part of our people value proposition. We are continually refining our people value proposition as we continue to obtain data to help inform the tangible and intangible benefits of working for ANZ.

We are ensuring we understand what our potential and current employees value most, using this knowledge to both attract talent (by marketing these compelling points) and retain talent (by implementing initiatives to address the gaps). 

This is a LONG game – not do once and set and forget – of continually tracking, monitoring and responding to changes in talent wants/needs and market conditions.

Tapping into diverse talent pools

We also proactively source candidates in areas of high strategic demand (e.g. engineering, data, customer relationships, credit and risk) while exploring hiring from other industries like hospitality and tourism for retail roles.

We have a number of campaigns in place to tap into diverse and under-represented talent pools – something that’s really important to ANZ’s DNA. For example:

  • ANZ successfully hosted 55 refugees in 2022 as part of the Given the Chance program in which ANZ partners with the Brotherhood of St Laurence to assist refugees and asylum seekers with opportunities to enter the Australian workforce
  • ANZ’s Return-to-Work program is designed for people who have taken a career break and would like help moving back into the workforce, encouraging them to consider a role in technology. Since the program was established in 2019, more than 64 people have been recruited to tech roles at ANZ with a retention rate of 86 per cent

In 2021 ANZ was named a strategic partner to the Victorian Government’s Digital Jobs Program, part of their 2020/21 state budget to support COVID-19 recovery and employment.

The 12-week program offered the opportunity to tap into a pool of 30 high potential mid-career workers and support them to develop digital, data and technology skills both with formal and on-the-job coaching and training. Upon completion of the program, 40 per cent of participants were offered permanent roles.

Competition for talent will continue to intensify. To attract and retain their people, organisations must move beyond the tactical. It is fundamental to have a strong people value proposition that continues to evolve to employees’ changing needs, remains aligned to the company’s values and purpose and is authentic and invested in.  



1 Australian Financial Review, 2022

3 Gartner on Twitter, 15 July 2022

Rita Newman, Group General Manager of Joiners and Movers at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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