The new growth hurdle

The latest business confidence report from Nab should underline what many entrepreneurs have suspected for months now – the new war for talent is on in earnest and it’s only going to become fiercer.

While business confidence dipped slightly in March, that shouldn’t be taken a sign the recovery is looking shaky as it’s clear that the overall trend in business confidence and conditions is heading in the right direction.

But there was something in the report to be worried about, and that was the rise in the index which tracks employment intentions. It’s suddenly back to its highest points since 2007 as companies try to find workers to ramp up their activities once again.

Already Nab chief economist Alan Oster has declared that the unemployment rate is likely to 4.5% by the end of 2010 and 4% by the end of 2011.

That indicates the labour market will be incredibly tight and it could really be a stumbling block for firms that intend to try and grow over the next 12 to 18 months.

Getting the right people in the right places is critical during any expansion push – employ the wrong person to manage than new office or head up that new department and you’ll quickly find that your plans are slowed at best and scuttled at worst.

With this in mind, you need to start looking for the best people now. Cast an eye over your competitors, work your networks and consider reintroducing those spotter fees that become so prevalent during the downturn.

If you see a great person and you haven’t quite got a place for them right now, consider whether you should bring them on anyway – if you don’t get them now, your rival is likely to get them later.

And don’t forget to dedicate the time, energy and resources to looking after your current staff. If they are stars, they will be in demand and you need to start thinking about strategies to retain them before they start thinking about reasons to leave.

It’s going to be fierce and it’s likely to get ugly, but smart companies who plan well can stay ahead in this new talent war.

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