Innovation – the key to optimising your workforce

October 2023

For a few years now a talent shortage, challenges in employee retention, and the cost of recruitment have all pushed entrepreneurs onto the path of innovation. Knowing how to make the best use of available staff has become an art form, and only the most innovative businesses have remained competitive.

Making the most of what you have

Let’s take the Oakland Athletics from Major League Baseball (MLB) as an example. You may have already seen (or heard about) the film Moneyball; it tells the story of Billy Beane’s accomplishments during his time as the team’s general manager. With only a limited budget at his disposal, Beane used a different statistical analysis to recruit his players, a method previously disregarded by other teams. This helped him to recruit individuals who had been overlooked by other agents and teams because, according to their standard statistics, they did not appear to be performing well. This approach, now named sabermetric, enabled Beane to build a high-performance team that in two seasons won more than a hundred games. Sabermetric is now used by many professional baseball teams.

The lesson to be learnt from the Oakland Athletics’ success story is that it is essential to know how to make the most of your available resources. By being more creative than their competitors they were able to identify opportunities that other teams completely missed. This is a perfect example of innovation and one that is particularly relevant in the current context of the war for talent.

External resources: looking beyond the CV

Frequently, businesses have greater external resources at their disposal than they think, but these are sometimes undervalued or inaccurately assessed. Not making the most of internal resources just adds to the problem. So how can you face the challenge of finding new talent?

One approach is to completely rethink your recruitment process and the way you conduct job interviews. The CV is no longer your key determiner of a candidate’s compatibility with the job role. Instead, focus more on how candidates come across and present themselves at interview, rather than relying predominantly on their academic and professional backgrounds.

Focusing on subjective factors, such as how well you get on during the interview and a candidate’s personality, can help you to identify which candidates have the ability to develop and a desire to learn, even if technical knowledge is lacking at the time of hiring. You can teach technical knowledge; you can’t teach personality. For example, a candidate interested in tax law can become an excellent tax specialist without necessarily completing a master’s degree in taxation. An accounting technician can perform well in preparing certain types of financial statements, without having completed their professional accounting qualification.

Judging a candidate solely on a CV can stop you seeing potential, causing you to risk missing out on an ideal candidate who may be a loyal employee for many years. Instead, if you take the time to focus on the individual rather than their academic and professional qualifications you can uncover the hidden gem that your competitors failed to identify.

Internal resources: optimising your team’s potential

To help retain your existing talent, look to enhance your relationships by better understanding them, both professionally and personally. This will help you to position each individual appropriately within your business, by basing your judgment on their interests and dominant personality traits rather than just their skills.

It can be tempting to leverage a team’s strengths without considering the needs of employees. Often, a person’s strengths do not necessarily align with their interests. For example, a skilled communicator may dislike public speaking. An employer’s first instinct might be to put this person at the forefront of client interactions, even though it could make the employee uncomfortable. Instead of solely focusing on a person’s strengths, by listening to and understanding their interests you can help them evolve into a position that best suits them.

However, this does not mean hindering an employee’s progress by letting them remain in their comfort zone. Instead, you need to know how to present what options are available to them and make them see the various possibilities that exist in the business for their future. Carefully assessing your internal resources can help you divide up tasks, combine existing job roles, or even create entirely new roles.

It is important not to view each role as a job with a predefined list of tasks. Instead, tailor each position to the person fulfilling that particular role. Every individual is unique, and every position should be equally unique.

There is no magical solution that will fix the problem of attracting and retaining talent. But, by broadening your horizons and looking beyond the statistics and standard skillsets, you can work your own magic, just like the Oakland Athletics, and lead your business to new victories.

About the author

Mylène Pontbriand
Montréal QC, Canada

Mylène is a tax partner at FBL, the Montréal member firm of Russell Bedford International.

She joined FBL in 2011 after obtaining her master’s degree in tax. She is also a lawyer and has been a member of the Barreau du Québec since 2011. Since her arrival at FBL, Mylène’s specialities include corporate and personal tax planning, mergers and acquisitions and business transfers. She stands out amongst others for her expertise regarding trusts. The main part of her practice is tax and business consulting for middle market private companies in a large variety of industries.

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