By Donal Laverty, Consulting Partner at Baker Tilly Mooney Moore

Last month we discussed the pace of the labour market and the operational challenges it presents. A growing area of concern, some 31% of CEOs and business leaders now identify attraction and retention of talent as their main priority, a 16% increase on 2021 according to the latest Gartner CEO Survey.

As the impact stretches across the public, private and third sectors, solutions to ensure the crisis does not overrun all productivity and efficiency will need to be found, and leaders must assess their organisational design to ensure it is protected.

The most likely solution is one that has been discussed time and time again, that is the automation of services. In the past, it has displaced workers or devalued the work they do. Yet a combination of surging productivity and talent scarcity could place employees in an advantageous position as Artificial Intelligence and the use of Enterprise Resource Systems (ERPs) help them work more efficiently.

Employees can now reap the rewards of such enhanced efficiency, allowing them to bring more value to the workplace without the historic fear of being replaced by a machine. Harnessing new technologies requires specific skills, however, so training and upskilling is essential to make this solution work.

Another avenue to examine is where talent is sourced from in the first place, and how new employees are onboarded to the business. More and more, hiring managers are focusing on how best to empower their existing team to counteract the talent shortage. Some 21% have provided training opportunities to give in-house employees more responsibility, while 38% have implemented flexible working arrangements.

Training is a useful strategy to motivate and instill a sense of brand loyalty among existing team members, while flexible working is widely known to be a major draw factor among skilled candidates.

Companies can consider reducing commuting time by moving shift starting times away from rush hour, giving employees some personal time back and increasing the number of individuals that can reasonably travel to your premises for work.

Similarly, structuring a 40-hour working week as four 10-hour shifts will reduce the time spent commuting by 20%, and is an area that a lot more employees are willing to explore.

It is, however, the organisations who are taking on the responsibility of training and moving to hire people straight from school that are leading the way. Continuous learning in this way will be central to the future of work and extends far beyond the traditional definition of employee development. This is becoming more common, with Amazon ringfencing over $700m dollars in 2019 to train 100,000 employees for higher-skilled positions over a six-year period.

This focus on training, upskilling and development is of major value, not only to attract new employees, but to enhance the skills of existing team members. People don’t want to stagnate; they expect opportunities for growth and development and are motivated by the opportunity to continually expand their skills.

After all, work is no longer viewed as somewhere people go, it is a symbiotic ecosystem in which customers, managers and colleagues freely exchange value and meaning.

This article first appeared in the Irish News on 6th September 2022. 

To discuss any aspect in more detail please contact Donal Laverty, Consulting Partner by Tel: 028 9032 3466 or Email: