A few months ago, Damien was interviewed by the EDHEC Business School, one of the leading financial education institutions in France. They talked about how to attract talent from a new generation of workers, and what companies can do to improve their success. You can see the podcast here. In this blog, Damien expands on his ideas and offers five specific points that executives should be thinking about.
Companies around the world are facing a new kind of challenge, and it can’t be solved by technology, restructuring, or any of the usual business approaches.
I’m talking about the growing talent shortage that’s being felt across nearly every industry. What was only a shift in the workforce a few years ago, has now become the Great Resignation. Companies are having trouble finding worker talent, whether it’s entry level or experienced professional. Traditional industries face an especially tough challenge. If your business isn’t flashy and high-tech, how do you find the talent you need?
Here are five things that we do at Schneider Electric to recruit talent and build our workforce of the future.
1- Plant seeds
If recruiting is getting harder, then you can’t afford to wait until you have job openings to start making the case for your company. It’s important to have active programs at the college and university level. The point is not just to recruit, but to engage young people and generate real interest in your company and its mission.
At Schneider Electric, we put this concept into action through the Go Green competition, a global program we operate in conjunction with universities around the world. It starts at the country level where teams submit their concept and business model for a new way to go green in the city. Once all the concepts have been submitted, a panel picks the top two or three entries to go on to the regional competition. The winners of that competition are then on the global stage. Last year we had approximately four thousand participants across one hundred countries, and the program has been gaining momentum.
Whatever your industry, it’s possible to create a program that engages young people in things they care about. Universities are usually eager to work with companies on these kinds of partnerships, too.
2- Create opportunities
The seeds you plant should become opportunities. Make sure you are offering a path forward, or even better, a choice of paths. For example, in the Go Green competition, we typically offer internships to half of the participants, and 30% of those are offered job opportunities. Their drive for innovation is clear to see, and many of them end up with permanent positions at Schneider Electric.
It’s also important to offer your workers the opportunity to think and contribute as they move forward. Everyone needs to contribute and matter to the vision of the company. The new generation of workers understands this concept, and we try to create a culture that encourages curiosity and engagement.
3- Make a better workplace
Worker expectations have changed dramatically and a lot of professional work can be done from home. But not everything should be digital. People sometimes need to meet face to face. During the height of the pandemic when our people had the option to work remotely, many of them still came into the office, under safe conditions of course. Some people need the social contact of the physical workplace to thrive.
At Schneider Electric, we want to accommodate both kinds of workers. With part-home, part-office scheduling, we can create a more flexible approach where people don’t necessarily need to work full time. We’re rethinking our physical spaces, too. We’re at the early stages of this journey, along with the rest of the world, but our goal is to create modern, interactive work environments that will help people to be successful.
4- Mentor the next generation
Don’t overlook the value of your older workers. Their experience is one of your most valuable assets. Encouraging continuous development among senior staff, and mentorship for young workers, is at the center of our “life-long learning” philosophy.
We have a program in Schneider Electric that allows young workers to reach out to experienced colleagues and ask for guidance and mentoring. I have mentored myself, and it’s a commitment that we take seriously. The demands on time can be challenging for the mentor, but the personal and business rewards are more than worth it.
Innovation is not just about technology and launching new products. It’s also about creating new business models and rethinking how we go to market. Schneider Electric’s Chief Innovation Officer leads our “Innovation at the Core” and “Innovation at the Edge” programs. Innovation at the Core is internal, about driving technical innovation within the company through R&D. Innovation at the Edge is focused on how we innovate alongside our partners, bring concepts to market, and support our customers.
Our incubation projects in Singapore, where I am based, are great examples of Innovation at the Edge. We invest in promising projects, typically incubating several business ideas at any given time, with the goal of eventually launching new companies. This program has a dedicated team with its own budget to drive innovation in cooperation with partners and suppliers.
My advice to those entering the workforce is to be curious and create your own opportunities. Don’t be passive. Never miss an opportunity to network. If you have something that makes you unique, then show it and bring your perspective to the table. You will have a higher chance of succeeding.
For companies, my advice is to look for people with the above qualities. The world is changing rapidly, and we need people who are willing to raise their hands and offer new ideas.