Recruiting and retaining new talent in the digital age

Megan Brownlow photoAuthor: Megan Brownlow, Principal, PwC Australia

Across many industries, we’re seeing digital transformation erode the old dividing-lines between sectors. From financial services to retail and from utilities to communications, traditional barriers are falling and new players entering the fray.

Virtually every client I speak to says that this blurring of industry boundaries is impacting not just their strategy and operations, but also their talent needs. And nowhere are the impacts on talent and skills more profound than in entertainment and media - an industry that’s right in the front line of digital disruption.

Digital drives collisions and convergence
That’s why I believe that entertainment and media can provide some valuable lessons around talent leadership and retention for CEOs in other sectors, as digital technologies trigger collisions and convergence across more and more industries.

As highlighted by PwC’s recent Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2014-2018, the industry's former ‘cool’ cachet in the employee marketplace is eroding, as the barriers with formerly distinct sectors such as technology and communications continue to dissolve. This change is coinciding with a dramatic rise in the importance of digital technologies and analytics-driven data insights. As a result, entertainment and media companies need new talent with different skillsets – something which my colleague, David Lancefield, explores in more detail in this video.

Two challenges to tackle
These shifts we’re seeing in the entertainment and media industry are being mirrored to varying degrees in many other sectors – and in my experience, they raise two related challenges. One is a need to recruit, integrate and retain new skillsets from adjacent industries – in the case of entertainment and media, top-end talent in data analytics – where competition in the recruitment market is increasingly intense.

The second challenge is harder to address: a need to stop recruiting on the basis of ‘similarity attraction’ on the part of the existing management, and start recruiting people who are very different from the current workforce. In entertainment and media, a history of recruiting and promoting from within has seen businesses become dominated by ‘right-brained’ people who are creative and intuitive. In other sectors such as technology, the dominant type has been ‘left-brained’ logical and analytical personalities.

Abandoning the stereotypes
In my view, digital blurring means successful businesses in all sectors now need to break away from their embedded recruitment stereotypes, and ensure they develop or buy both types of talent. Whichever type they need, my experience suggests that the best solution is to make diverse recruitment easier, through five specific actions:

  • First, raise the HR function to a higher status in the organisation with more resources, capabilities and influence, to reassess the business’s talent needs and provide a better understanding of how external changes are affecting skills availability.
  • Second, invest in social enterprise technology and collaboration tools, which younger recruits now expect as the core of their workplace experience.
  • Third, bring new talent into the heart of the business through steps such as co-locating new and existing employees, and discrete social monitoring to make sure new people are not ‘ground down’ by the incumbent culture.
  • Fourth, incentivise everyone in smarter ways more tied to the business’s outcomes than the traditional flat salary, bonus, or incentive plan.
  • Finally, take on board the growing power and importance of trust and integrity, by setting the right tone from the top and embedding a culture of ‘doing the right thing’ to rebuild employee engagement.

In the digital world, companies need new talent that’s fundamentally different to their current workforce. But to recruit and – more importantly – retain it, they’ll also need a new culture. And, in my experience with clients, that’s the hard part.

To learn more, take a look at the article, Time to look to adjacent industries for new talent – and new ways to keep it on board.


Megan is an entertainment and media industry specialist at PwC Australia, where she performs strategy, due diligence, forecasting, and market analysis work for clients. In 2013, Megan was named by industry journal, AdNews, as one of the top 20 most influential women in media and advertising in Australia.



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