Access to talent creates challenges

The talent war gets fiercer across the mid-market.

Imad Adileh
Imad Adileh
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‘War’ is the only fitting description for the intensity of contest for labour skills and it’s getting even fiercer. The underlying problem is the shortage of available skills. That’s clearly seen in the fact that a record 57% of all mid-market companies now see this as a constraint to their growth, nearly twice the long-term average, as highlighted by Grant Thornton International’s Global Business Pulse.

The shortage of skills is an issue across every country and region monitored by the research, and in North America it’s reached the level where more than two-thirds of businesses say it’s a constraint to their growth. Closer to home and across Saudi Arabia, the talent challenge remains an ongoing business consideration for senior leaders, specifically as the leadership of the country embarks upon its ambition growth strategy.

Created as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030, the $500 billion ambitious giga-projects, including the Red Sea Development, Qiddiya, Diriyah, Neom and AlUla will create new and emerging job opportunities, which require skilled talent.

Furthermore, Saudisation quotas continue to drive business leaders to build attractive propositions to attract and retain local talent, along with enabling cultural integration between global talent and local resources. Such challenges will take a leading position as young Saudi nationals immerse themselves in new and growing sectors which include ecommerce, digital solutions, and entrepreneurship, driving them away from the corporate world.

71% of the mid-market are expecting to pay salary increases that are at least in line with inflation in the next 12 months. What is even more concerning is that competition for skills may only intensify, given that 52% of companies plan to increase their employment in the coming year to support their growth plans.

Such ongoing growth and competition across the labour market will continue to increase operational costs, with the skills shortage remaining an ongoing challenge.

Strategies across Saudi Arabia will go someway to addressing these challenges, particularly as Riyadh moves into its final phase of becoming one of the ten world’s largest cities. By 2030 the city aims to have 15-20 million residents, up from its current 7.5 million inhabitants1. Regulations such as public sector work allocation to those companies who have headquarters in the city have directly resulted in large blue-chip and local SMEs moving their base to Riyadh and the wider country, which has set the foundations for job creation, economic growth, investment, and many more opportunities.

Talent shortage is either the number one or number two issue facing organisations, which now drives the boardroom agenda, given talent shortages have a direct impact on achieving growth objectives. Coupled with these initiatives to build a greener and more-sustainable city in Riyadh will create additional pressures to attract and retain skilled resources with specialist skills.

There are strategies which business leaders can adopt both across Saudi Arabia and the wider global mid-market, which will go somewhat to addressing the war on talent, which include understanding the needs of employees and developing reward packages that they value and that really differentiate you as an employer. Consider options such as profit sharing and share ownership to help buy loyalty and really differentiate offerings to employees.

In this skill-sellers’ market, our experts stress the importance of also looking well beyond financial rewards to keep good talent and make companies attractive in the market. Considering COVID, a new model of leadership is needed to enable organisations to thrive. Engendering innovation, collaborating, and communicating across the business, and adapting to change have become operational necessities for C-suite leaders, while empathy and inclusion are the keys to team performance.

The global talent pool can be leveraged, whilst embracing the opportunities of remote working, however there are still a raft of tax risk considerations and practical monitoring challenges associated with a more international workforce.