Winning the war on talent: Three ways to make a workplace a ‘great place’

Guest Blog By Marilyn Chaplin, Group Executive – People and Culture, Dimension Data


Cultivating a strong company culture is key for long-term success, particularly when it comes to attracting and retaining the talent to execute your strategy.  Indeed, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success[1].


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Creating a world-class work environment across borders can be a challenge, especially for a global business spread across multiple markets. International organisations should strive to have a recognisable and consistent company culture that’s infused with local character to keep your entire workforce engaged.


With some practical examples, here’s how it can be done.


  1. Global engagement is the winning formula


What better way to engage a global workforce than with a global competition? It can inspire creativity, increase motivation, and be the catalyst for innovative activities that even the participants didn’t think they’d be capable of.


In conjunction with this year’s Tour de France, Dimension Data launched its inaugural ‘Le Code to France’ competition. This initiative combined the world’s biggest cycling race (of which Dimension Data has been a partner for the past five years) with its Learn to Code programme, an inner-sourcing project that allows the company’s 28,000 global employees to share and access code stored on a common platform, no matter where they are in the world.


For Le Code to France, entrants were tasked with creating new and exciting ways to capture the imagination of fans and followers of the Tour de France.  Submissions came from all over the globe, including a team of graduates in South Africa to a one-man band in Taiwan. The winning team – aptly named Mark Codendish – delivered a gamification-based concept that allowed fans to go head-to-head with Dimension Data’s famous machine learning #DDPredictor.


Even though many of the ‘Le Code to France’ entrants didn’t possess strong technical skills, the competition raised awareness of internal tools that can inspire a technical drive. By removing barriers to collaboration, companies can develop the skills needed to move with the market and transform their organisation.


  1. The best investment is in people


All four members of the winning ‘Le Code to France’ team had at least one thing in common: they were all young and hungry graduates. Investing in the future might seem obvious – yet staggeringly, it is too often overlooked by even some of the world’s ‘biggest’ companies.


Many businesses are guilty of focusing on the short-term goals, but HR can play a critical role in the ones that matter most in the long term: investing in the right people. Dimension Data’s Graduate Accelerate Programme plucks the brightest minds from across the world, allowing them access to the full spectrum of a global organisation. Young employees shouldn’t feel as if they’re boxed in a corner – if, after a couple of years, they decide their passion lies in coding rather than marketing. Support that move with everything you’ve got – or surely risk losing them.


Arrange initiatives to not only nurture your young talent, but also to actively celebrate their contributions to the organization. Each year, Dimension Data sends 10 of its highest-performing young employees from across the world to its parent company NTT Group’s HQ in Tokyo to network with colleagues from other NTT companies, meet senior leaders, and learn about how global organisations work effectively together – and experience the diverse organisational culture first hand.


  1. Reinvent your HR function


To be a top employer, companies must focus on transforming all HR aspects of the company: from talent management to leadership, and training and development to the initiatives that can attract, retain, and engage talent.


Consider seeking certification from the Top Employers Institute, a company that recognises and celebrates the world’s best employers. The programme is rigorous and the criteria very stringent, but it forces you to keep raising the bar in order to attract and retain the talent you need. It makes your people proud, it increases trust with your clients, and perhaps most interestingly, it drives a marketing mind-set within the HR function.


Social media has brought such transparency to talent attraction. Today people are using their personal social networks and websites such as Glassdoor to form an impression of your organisation. Candidates will have judged your company long before you’ve had a chance to tell them what you have to offer. This is the world that HR has to compete in today.


It’s even harder when you’re in an industry like ours, where there’s a war for talent. That’s why we need to bring a marketing mindset to the HR function – allowing us to manage the expectation of the speed and immediacy that social media brings. We need to start reaching the people we want to attract through targeted, one-to-one social strategies.


Ultimately, HR must recognise that its purpose is to provide a service to the business, and, to do that, it needs to understand the organisation’s broader challenges. Only then can the overall company be sure it has the skills, where they’re needed, to help customers accelerate their ambitions.


[1] Deloitte: Core beliefs and culture: Chairman’s survey findings:

Author: Editorial Team

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