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People and culture in private equity: Avoiding the one size fits all solution

30 May 2022

Compass Executives consultants recently attended Real Deals’ “The HR Talent Summit” and have given an overview of what was discussed, along with the key takeaways from the event.

General overview of hiring

Across the course of the day, a lot was discussed about the variation in hiring new talent, how the process has changed and continues to evolve, and that not all hires are the same. One of the common themes discussed is that companies need to look further into what exactly they want to achieve through making a new hire by examining their own requirements, as well as looking at it from the candidate’s perspective with how exactly they can be appealing to new talent.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to hiring

What has become clear when it comes to hiring new talent, is that a ‘one size fits all’ approach no longer works. One person, or a small team or department, cannot put their employer lens on the whole company to see their employee perceptions without having discussions with employees. In order to be more inclusive with all employees, having open conversations between worker generations will be of much more value to your business.

Depending on what you are looking for in your new hire, researching what is important and appealing to prospective candidates is incredibly important. Approach looking to attain senior hires or early talent needs to be unique due to different interests and expectations of workplace culture, training and benefits. It is important to be mindful of this when looking at what new talent you need.

The generational age difference is not the only thing to consider but different elements of ESG such as diversity are also incredibly important. Ensuring your company culture is authentically inclusive to people from all backgrounds is vital. No one wants to be seen as the token hire. Focusing on how your company culture can be inclusive and diverse will lead to better retention for both you and the employee.

The phrase ‘war for talent’ or similar terms is something that we are starting to see phased out as it is not seen as particularly appealing in a more inclusive and diverse environment.

It’s not all just about the company

Previously, candidates would need to demonstrate their enthusiasm and credentials at an interview to be offered a job – it has since become a two-way conversation: employers need to emphasise what makes their organisation stand out compared to others, and appeal to prospective hires, to ensure they secure leading talent into their businesses – at a time when the markets are so heavily candidate driven.

One of the most important takeaways from the Summit is that 30% of candidates make the decision on whether they want to continue their candidate journey within the first interview, thus emphasising the importance of engaging the candidate from the beginning and really focussing on a candidate’s journey.

Changes we can implement during the interview process

When conducting interviews, talent and hiring managers need to factor in time during the interview for candidates to ask questions about working within the company and provide transparent answers.

With a heavily candidate-driven market, many candidates are looking for companies that offer opportunities in return for their services such as control over their own career, flexibility, a clear career path, hybrid working, as well as maternity and paternity options. However, it’s also important to bear in mind that the questions may differ depending upon the seniority and age of the candidates you are looking to hire. Focussing on what these key audiences look for in an employer is a necessity.

Candidates want to see a much more tech-enabled process and a quick interview turnaround time. If you leave it too long when it comes to making decisions, then you are likely to lose candidates somewhere along the interview journey.

The interview process should really be more focussed on getting to know each other and how it can work both ways.

There is a real emphasis on being transparent internally and externally to make the workplace the most attractive it can be. Candidates will often do their research on a company prior to an interview so ensuring you convey your transparency message is incredibly important.

One example of how you can provide transparency during the interview process is to offer a walkaround option to your candidates. Trust your colleagues to give honest conversations with candidates and to allow them to speak to your team to give honest opinions on what it’s like to work for your organisation.

Authenticity is key

Putting ESG and DE&I at the heart of your organisation both internally and externally is key to ensuring transparency, diversity, authenticity, and employee retention.

The internal aspect needs to be focussed on within the company culture from the top-down as just one example. An example of the external aspect is that your website and external outputs portray the same inclusive language and messaging.

This is also particularly important when using external recruiters and headhunters. An understanding of the business and articulating inclusivity and culture is key to recruitment success. When working with clients from all backgrounds, recruiters should be bringing in diverse talent.

Social impact is important with retention as a candidate will be doing due diligence on the treatment of staff. One example is of how there are currently lots of discussions around hybrid working and making workers come back to the office needs to have a purpose rather than demanding for the sake of it.  The private equity world is currently seeing People/HR teams having conversations where a culture focus needs to be at the forefront when making teams come back to the office.

Onboarding & retention

Many firms within the private equity sector are looking at creating onboarding plans and strategies to ensure employees feel supported and are more likely to retain them. One example of this that has seen results is implementing a 100-day onboarding plan. Providing structure and being upfront with the training process, has seen better productivity and retention results from candidates.

Psychometric testing can also be beneficial to you and your candidate as it can highlight examples of where you can give further support to your candidate if you believe they would fit well within your business.

Mindful staffing is another important aspect of onboarding and retention. By ensuring your team feel supported and rewarded for their contribution to the business will likely see much higher employee retention results. Such examples of this could include things such as wellness days and gym memberships, etc.

From private equity to health and social care

The private equity sector very much focuses on the data and what it shows. The question we need to raise here now is whether this can be reflected in the health and social care sector and how would that work?

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