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Michael Page HR Barometer: “Businesses, invest more in your employees”

  • Talent development and retention are increasingly important, also for Dutch businesses
  • Recruitment forecasts point to a new phase of economic growth
  • Flexible working is the most popular female-friendly measure

Amsterdam, 22 September 2015 - Change management, talent management and training & development are the most important challenges for companies this year, according to a Michael Page’s Global HR Barometer published today. The transformation of human resources is essential on the eve of a new battle for talent, and this global finding applies to Dutch businesses, too.

HR and corporate transformation needed to bridge the skills gap
35 percent of Northern European HR managers see change management and transformation projects as a top priority in their sector. Mischa Voogt, Managing Director of Michael Page Netherlands, says, “Managers need to lead their organisations through changes at increasing speed to remain competitive. Businesses have now realised that they need to encourage traditional HR professionals to think strategically in an environment of unequal economic growth where there is a widening skills gap.”

The Barometer confirms that 42 percent of HR managers surveyed in Northern Europe expect to see the total number of staff increase: “Finding talent was always a priority, but now it must become an essential part of corporate strategy,” says Voogt.

This priority is echoed in HR managers’ second and third HR priorities: talent management (33%) and training & development (31%). “People are now realising that a company’s ability to innovate and succeed is determined for the most part by the skills of its employees. CEOs and HR managers not only need to ensure that they recruit the talent their company needs; they also need to educate and retain this talent. This has caused many Dutch companies to reevaluate their approach to recruitment and training.”

Generation Y
The focus is increasingly on talent retention and supporting the development of these employees. “That’s logical, because competition for talent is hotting up now that the economy is recovering,” says Voogt. “Generation Y, newcomers to the market, are forcing companies to reevaluate employee retention strategies. Whereas applicants used to focus on ‘hard’ issues like salary and career development, Generation Y is much more interested in ‘soft’ employment conditions like sports facilities, work-life balance and the opportunity to develop themselves through training and education. Salary used to be applicants’ number one priority; Generation Y ranks salary in third place.”

Recruitment forecasts point to a new phase of economic growth
42% of HR managers in Northern Europe expect their total company workforce to increase in the next twelve months. This compares to 48% globally, and 66% and 60% respectively in India and the United Kingdom, where there are specific recruitment issues.

“We’re seeing companies in the Netherlands taking the imminent lack of talent seriously. Technology companies are at the forefront of this new battle for talent,” says Voogt. “HR have now fully realised that demand sometimes outstrips market supply. That is why this research shows that personnel planning has become an essential HR priority, and personnel turnover a frequently measured KPI.”

Flexible working is the most popular female-friendly measure
63% of respondents were female. Considering that Michael Page surveyed only HR managers, this indicates that women are well represented in HR, including in senior roles. “Most leading companies have some form of policy regarding gender equality nowadays. In the Netherlands, we’ve been discussing the role of women in the corporate world, but there’s still a long way to go,” says Voogt.

According to the Michael Page Barometer, flexible working arrangements are high on the list of special measures for women implemented by companies in Northern Europe (29%), followed by mentoring (18.5%) and coaching (16%).

External agencies
Despite an increase in recruitment through LinkedIn and other social media, companies continue to employ external agencies to find the right talent.

Voogt: “Particularly at a higher level, employers’ specifications and expectations are so high that they need specialist help to find a good match. At Michael Page, we advise companies to ‘think outside the box’ more often. So: don’t always ask for that one candidate who has demonstrated the required experience and expertise in previous positions, but also look for suitable people with a different background who could fill the role and possibly even bring in new insights because they see things from a different perspective.”