Aviva HR chief calls on firms to develop in-house talent

A private sector HR boss has called on employers to stop wasting time focusing on the ‘war for talent’ and instead concentrate on internal employee development.

Speaking at a conference on ‘Managing Through a Downturn’, hosted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development yesterday, the group talent management director at insurance giant Aviva, Arvindar Dhesi, urged organisations to develop more creative approaches to talent management.

Dhesi told Personnel Today: “We have been cooing over the war metaphor for several years now. Fighting a war isn’t really relevant in today’s climate. The real onus on us is to become more responsive and able to experiment with what we have.”

For the past decade, companies have been battling against one another in a ‘war for talent’ to attract and retain the best employees.

While the current recession has led to skilled jobseekers outnumbering the vacancies on offer, HR directors are seizing less busy trading periods to motivate and engage staff internally, at little extra cost to the business.

Akber Pandor, head of partner development at KPMG, revealed that the professional services firm was using the time created by fewer service demands to rotate its top 1,000 high performers around different departments, offices and clients to broaden their experiences and skills, and to set up a mentoring system to train partners.

He said: “There is more time available now to focus on talent management. We were too busy in the good times. When we come out of this, we will never go back there will be a new world with different expectations and we are taking the opportunity to really prepare our top performers for a different future.”

Meanwhile, Jeremy Day, employee and diversity manager at Boots, reminded HR professionals that staff must be kept informed and have a say in any changes or planning for the future to ensure they remain motivated and committed.

He said: “We need to listen to our employees and understand what they are saying. Making sure everyone knows what we want to achieve and how we are going to get there is an important part of our engagement process.”

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