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Geoff Curran
Geoff Curran

Practice Leader

How co-operatives and mutuals can overcome talent shortages

Good people can be hard to come by and with serious talent shortages emerging in a range of industry sectors and job types, many Australian businesses can relate to this sentiment right now.


Attracting and retaining the right talent remains a significant challenge, particularly for those in the sectors like mining, agriculture, hospitality and parts of financial services. Businesses currently seeking executive talent for accounting, IT, digital, cyber, legal and marketing roles are also feeling this pressure.

Given this situation is unlikely to improve dramatically in the short term, to remain competitive co-operatives and mutuals (CMEs) must proactively address any talent shortages within their organisation. Here are four things to consider when recruiting from a small and highly competitive pool of executive talent.

1. Leverage your value proposition

CMEs often have a unique value proposition, so take pride in what your organisation can offer to new hires. In recruiting for new executive talent:

  • Clearly articulate what makes your organisation different and appealing to candidates during the hiring process.
  • Remember that not everyone wants to live and work in a major city. If your organisation is based regionally consider what your location has to offer.
  • Many CME’s have high employee engagement and are considered employers of choice. Find ways to demonstrate your employer brand to potential candidates.
  • The values and vision of CMEs can appeal to a wide range of people. Leverage the fact that working for an organisation with purpose that extends beyond shareholder gain can be a rewarding and fulfilling proposition for new hires.
  • Also be sure to communicate some of the ways that joining a CME can offer greater job scope and influence than working for larger Australian or multinational organisations.

2. How to navigate salary inflation

Having been subdued for some time growth in executive salaries is starting to pick up again. Some job functions have already been impacted and this growth is expected to become more widespread in 2022. The demand for talent will also stay high, inflation looks set to increase and media commentary will further fuel employee expectations – so what can you do?

  • To ensure competitiveness, regularly review and compare your remuneration levels with the market.
  • Focus on what the role is worth, rather than the individual.
  • If a key hire expects a salary uplift, determine if it is possible to structure the role and performance expectations to allow for more value to be delivered.
  • Get skilled at retaining, sustaining and growing your talent – regularly going to the market will cost you more in the long run.

3. Money matters, but it’s not all that matters

Money is an important factor for executive candidates, but there are other non-financial factors worth considering when attracting new talent.

  • Do you have flexible work practices and/or work from home opportunities? COVID-19 has made these strategies an essential part of the employee experience, and many candidates will not join organisations without these strategies in place.
  • Is an external hire necessary, or are you better off promoting from within?
  • Is it possible to broaden your selection criteria to harness a larger pool of talent?
  • Could your talent shortage be a structural issue that requires a broader and more strategic response?
  • Can you target executive talent with greater flexibility around their career choices? Or those at a stage in their career where remuneration is secondary to the scope of the role and the appeal of the organisation?

4. Retaining talent is vital

There has been recent media coverage of the “Great Resignation” and the flow-on effect of executive talent leaving an organisation. Media reports indicate this challenge is real in the US, but in Australia there is little evidence to suggest it is catching on with the same impact.

Nonetheless, some CEO’s and boards are picking up on the commentary and asking questions, so it’s important for CMEs to be mindful of this issue. Here are some points to consider:

  • Beware of and carefully manage the contagion effect of an influential person leaving your organisation. Will others follow? Is a communications strategy required to manage their departure?
  • To keep good people design retention strategies that are about more than just money.
  • Use data to make fact-based decisions on what is actually happening with attrition rates and if trends are emerging.
  • Benchmark or compare your attrition rates with other organisations or across your industry network.

While talent shortages can be challenging for CMEs, good executive talent is still available. With a deep and diverse network of national and international executive talent Gerard Daniels can help you to find the right candidates to help grow your brand, foster your culture and drive your organisation forward. Reach out today to discuss your executive search requirements, or visit our website for more information.

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