A skilled workforce is always sought-after. Countries, regions and cities that aspire to lead the way compete with each other to attract top talent. So, how can cities and regions attract talent – and how to measure the success of initiatives which pursue this objective?
We asked our panel of place branding specialists (in alphabetical order – highlighted respondents are available for consulting, research, or as speakers). Here is what they shared on how locations can fine-tune their success measurement strategies to hire top talent.
Our key takeaways:
- When trying to measure success, don´t just look at statistical numbers like how many jobs were taken up by international talent, or the number of visas granted. Rather, look at how many skilled workers chose to stay and became long-time residents.
- Examine the local start-up ecosystem, if there is a growth in offices for international businesses and an increase in business activity.
- Check how happy and satisfied international residents are who live within your community. Their level of satisfaction and contentment with the new “home” is a good indicator to measure the strength of your place brand too.
- Deep dive into the number of skilled employees who bagged a job in the city. Determine if their contract was extended and converted into permanent residents.
- Identify a pool of talent and nurture them with the help of universities. This eases the hiring process for companies.
- Be realistic. No place can cater to the dreams and aspirations of all the skilled workers. Focus on attracting those who are the best match for the values aligned to your place.
Australia | The number of new start-ups and the growth of the local innovation ecosystem. An increase in the number of international businesses who have established or meaningfully grown offices in that city. And any increase in the number of people migrating with professional qualifications who plan to stay as residents.
Brazil | The most obvious method is the quantitative one, how many new qualified employees were the companies able to recruit. A second equally important method is qualitative, what these new residents are finding and talking about in their new destination.
I previously referred to happiness as an essential element of measurement and success of places. This is also true for new residents or expatriates.
Mapping what is shared on the web is a way to understand this behaviour, but I prefer engagement and metering platforms, which can start as part of community engagement necessary for place branding and continue as a management tool for this new community.
USA | The real objective isn’t talent attraction, but rather rapid access to top talent. The reality is top talent will not sit idle in a community waiting for employment. Consequently, communities need a defined system for just in time access to top talent as a way to facilitate filling a company’s employment needs. This system includes defined coordination with academia and professional recruiting services.
Designed correctly, it offers communities a competitive advantage for capital attraction/retention. Today, many communities try to cobble together a talent attraction system when a capital investment opportunity presents. But, these efforts are often ineffective because the relationships needed with recruiting services and academicians take time to build and sweat equity to be sustained. That is why many communities simply fall back to offering underwriting part of the cost of recruiting talent rather than actually addressing the real capital investor need of just in time access to top talent.
Talent attraction is a misnomer. The real objective is talent access. No community will be able to attract and maintain an idle pool of top talent that companies can recruit from. Instead, communities need a defined system to quickly get access to talent with the skill sets required by companies who have made or are deciding to make a capital investment.
Typically this includes routine networking with placement services and relevant professors in academic institutions so top talent can be identified quickly for recruitment. Communities that innovate in this space will have an advantage in capital attraction by offering a seamless and rapid facilitation capability for companies to hire the right talent for their business needs.
For the love of place / Researcher profile
The Netherlands | First and foremost, by frequent and detailed monitoring (not only surveys but also focus groups and informant interviews) of what convinced recently attracted talent to move to the place in question. Then by monitoring how the already attracted talent experience living and working in the place. For the rest, it depends on what success criteria have been developed. These should not be generic but adapted to the specific needs of the place. For some places, specific types of talent and/or specific profiles are more important than others. For a few places, retention is more important than attraction. For others, it might be perfectly fine to have a high import and export of talent spending a few years in the place before moving on. Obviously, it depends.
Denmark | Copenhagen Capacity is measuring the potential tax income of each talent for a certain time frame. This, however, underestimates the effect – as their communication also might lead to talent only considering moving (and moves in a couple of years, when there is an opportunity).
Australia | We can be more targeted than ever. We can understand and accept that our place is not for everyone, and narrow our audiences as much as possible. Some people need to live in a mega-city and they’ll do whatever it takes to be there. Others are looking for a place that is more aligned to their values, their story. If we find them and invite them, looking at our economy and society and what we most need to be our best selves, then the measurement is part of our overall measurement strategy. We have to set a baseline, launch our initiative, and then count correctly and honestly.
Sweden | I am probably not the best to answer. In the current methods of measurement, I have more questions than answers. But one should develop a more qualitative and communicative way to measure talent attraction. The relocation of businesses or the relocation of graduates by looking at statistics does not give a complete picture.
Germany | This question has always intrigued me. If one could argue that measurement of talent attraction strategies or initiatives is as easy as employment rates or absolute numbers of contracted high skilled workforce could, then measuring its success is certainly a completely different story.
There are multiple sectors of activity to consider here. I will focus on the academic market. For example, while talent attraction initiatives targeting, for instance, highly qualified scholars are all around us it would be interesting to measure how many of these “attracted” scholars get a contract extension or are actually promoted to more permanent or longer-term career positions.
In practical terms, can we say that a talent attraction initiative that attracted 10 post-doctoral researchers in one year but none of these 10 remained in that region or city was a successful one? I believe it was not. The success of such strategies needs to be measured qualitatively. This is by taking into account contract renewals, career promotion, or obtaining a permanent position. I often fear that such talent attraction initiatives feed the already precarious job market for highly qualified academics.
Argentina | Contrasting what happens before and after a talent attraction campaign is launched and developed.
Russia | Plenty of possible ways to measure:
- Out-of-region students’ attraction
- Increase in number of events in different spheres (for instance,theatre performances, sport events, public lectures, etc)
- Growth in businesses created during a certain period
- Number of visas issued and so on
But obsession around numbers is tricky, it could be much ado about nothing. What is more important is to have the so-called North Star Metric, which is the main indicator of talent attraction. This metric could be unique for the place and closely connected to the place strategy. For example, in my city, the main metric is talent retention instead of attraction, which is closely connected to the migration statistics.
Spain | This could be measured with different KPIs (investment projects, etc), that has to be set up with the client prior to the start of the project.
José Pablo Arango
Colombia | If there is a good reputation, the interest will manifest itself consistently.
Sweden | The most advanced talent attraction initiatives in Europe involve digital marketing campaigns, which allow for very precise KPIs. These measure effects such as the number of qualified candidates delivered to employers, the number of candidates recruited or the number of relevant CVs that end up in the talent pool that many cities and regions now strive to build. Measurement of performance indicators such as conversion rates is also interesting to understand what content is working best in marketing.
Previous questions answered by the panel here.
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