One of the keys to the long term success of any company is their ability to attract, retain and develop their employees.

Over the course of the next twenty years, millions of employees will be leaving the workforce.  These demographic changes along with lifestyle changes that allow people to work on their own as “free agents” will create quite fierce competition for the talent in many fields.

Companies compete for talent, and those that are capable of attracting, retaining, and motivating good employees are more likely to achieve and sustain a competitive advantage.

■  Just a short time ago, Google Inc. was considered the ideal place to work and it was repeatedly chosen by Fortune in the “best companies to work for. Google used to receive more than 1,000 applicants for every 5 jobs available, and very few employees left the company once they were hired.

Yet the situation seems to have changed almost overnight, making it much tougher for Google to attract and retain top talent despite the tumbling economy. Google Inc. is now fighting off many growing Internet firms that are poaching its staff. Last year alone, Facebook, Zynge, and Twitter have increased their staff an average of 80 %, and many of those employees migrated from Google. To help attract new recruits and preempt defections, all of Google’s employees (about 23,000) have been given a 10 percent raise, at an estimated cost of $400 million.

■  Recently, Motorola has lost thousands of engineers, researchers, and designers to competitors such as Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Dell, and Sony Erickson. “Motorola has a very deep and wide pool of thousands of talented and experienced employees as well as strong succession pipeline of executives,” says the company’s senior vice president of human resources. Meanwhile, however, the drain continues. A group of software experts recently laid off by Motorola marketed themselves to Yahoo as a team, and all were quickly hired.

HR professionals identify an ongoing shortage of workers with advanced skills to fill openings in the so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

These fields are often characterised by “full employment” because they do not suffer from cyclical unemployment like other industries and often experience a dearth of qualified workers. Workforce analytics are essential tools.

Designing and implementing succession and performance management programs to increase organisational capacity and respond to a changing workforce.

Preparing for this change will require the delivery of targeted training programs, including the use of e-learning solutions where possible. Demographic shifts within geographic area, as well as within our existing workforce, will require appropriate marketing and communication strategies to attract qualified and diverse candidate pools.

The aim is:

  1. Establish and enhance partnerships with departments to anticipate and respond to changes, priorities, staffing trends, and support succession planning efforts.
  2. Develop recruitment and selection plans with departments that are cost effective, and measurable.
  3. Expand technological capabilities that streamline selection and test administration procedures.
  4. Promote the organisation as an employer of choice through ongoing marketing and education of services and benefits.