Communicators dedicate more resources to talent war

NEW YORK: One of the top challenges on everyone's mind in the PR business is the escalating talent war.

NEW YORK: One of the top challenges on everyone's mind in the PR business is the escalating talent war.

Agencies and corporations are engaged in a tug of war for highly skilled practitioners in the US and abroad.

At PRWeek's Power to the People Conference at the Sentry Centers in New York, Claudia Patton, global chief talent officer at Edelman, hosted a panel discussion about Leveraging Communications to Win the War on Talent. It featured Chris Atkins, PwC's managing director and US leader for public relations and internal communications; VP of marketing at Glassdoor Paige Vesuvio; Jim Wilkinson, PepsiCo's EVP of communications; and Sherry Pudloski, VP of global communications at Pfizer.

Vesuvio said Glassdoor has moved from controlling the content on its site to allowing businesses looking for candidates and job seekers to create a social community that allows both sides to make better decisions.

The panelists agreed about the need for employees to be open to a “lattice” rather than “ladder” framework in terms of job growth at a company. Lateral moves across a company that allow associates to gain insight into different areas of a business are very important for future consideration for promotions.

“We as communicators must move into a cross-functional model,” said Pudloski. As Pfizer had drugs come off patent, associates were encouraged to become immersed in other aspects of the business enabling them to remain relevant and productive.

Wilkinson said “the greatest disservice is to not cross-train a team.”

Executives in every industry have had to contend with the Millennial mindset that places a priority on a better work-life balance, and companies must address the goals of the next wave of new employees while respecting the sentiments of older generations of staffers that moved up in a “galley slave or owner” mentality, says Atkins.

PepsiCo's Wilkinson said his company uses a more flexible approach. “Are we winning? That's what I want to know. I don't care if you come into work wearing a clown suit or Prada,” he said. “When it comes to social media, I want to hire the girl with the dragon tattoo.”

Atkins said the talent gap is a big concern for PwC. As a result, the company just committed $160 million toward expanding financial literacy in high schools and encouraging interest in accounting careers.

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