Insights from Effect 2022: How to attract and retain digital talent in the new world of work


SAP was proud to host some of the most influential minds in business at Effect 2022. Over two days we unpacked the new expectations of work post pandemic. Here, we share takeaways from our ‘People Pillar’, where we considered hybrid work, attracting talent, engaging millennials, workplace planning and the importance of culture.

With skills shortages and low unemployment across Australia and New Zealand, attracting talent is more difficult than ever. In our discussions with CEOs and HR leaders, attracting the right digital skills in particular is looming as one of their major concerns in the next five years.

And it’s set to get more challenging, with researchers predicting a large and increasing shortfall in technology, media and telecommunication workers.

Insights from our New Reality Roundtable on People:

A highlight of Effect 2022 were our breakout sessions where we asked business and technology leaders how they planned to innovate in relation to people, productivity and the planet.

Here are some of the takeaways from our presentations and discussions:

  • Having reassessed their careers, work styles and personal lives during the pandemic, today’s workers have big expectations. They want flexible work hours, with a hybrid mix of working from home and in the office. Increasingly, they want to return to travelling for work.
  • With some estimating that up to 50% of workers are in a mood to change employers, the ability for your business to attract skilled workers AND upskill existing workers on the latest technology tools will be a huge factor in your success.
  • While money talks, so does skill development. Offering a path to learning and skill development can be a marketable way to attract talent and differentiate your organisation.
  • Organisations will need to offer skill development programs like online learning platforms, leadership/mentor programs, short courses, internal academies, defined career paths, formal certifications and external qualifications to foster skills and retain ambitious staff.
  • The nature of work is changing faster than people. Analyse your current job descriptions and employment criteria to see if they will still apply in five years.
  • The skills shortage will require recruiting from a talent pool beyond traditional graduates. It’s time to start recruiting for skills, experience and potential rather than certifications. For example:
    • Transition and cross-skill internal staff to new divisions in your business.
    • Engage with new parents re-entering the workforce who want to apply professional skills from home with flexible terms that work around their family.
    • Tap into underutilised older workers who have significant experience and expertise to offer, and who may need upskilling on digital platforms.
    • Reach out to smart candidates from other industries like law, finance or commerce and then train them up on digital skills.
  • Workplace planning in line with your expected business growth is crucial. If you plan to grow headcount over the next five years, you’ll need a defined execution strategy to develop the skills you’ll need. The group discussed four approaches to workplace planning:
    • Build: Proactively recruit graduates, apprenticeships, interns and work experience students and give them an opportunity to build their talent at your business.
    • Borrow: Work with clients, partners and complementary businesses to share and cross-fertilise skilled staff, offering them a reason to stay, and return over time.
    • Buy: Look at consultants, outsourcing, offshoring, contractors and freelancers to fill gaps and build internal capabilities. More and more people are comfortable being full-time guns for hire, moving from project to project. Embrace temporary staff and make them part of your team whether for short or longer term assignments.
    • Bots: Investigate software, artificial intelligence and machine learning innovations to help automate and/or streamline manual or repetitive processes to free staff for more valuable roles.

Beyond skill development, an important theme that was top of mind with business leaders was the importance of culture, purpose, fun and employee experience – especially with younger team members.

Once you’ve invested in attracting, upskilling and developing a great team of people, if you let them down in terms of culture then you fail to build a sustainable long-term talent plan.

Visit the Effect 2022 website to learn more about the event and watch a replay of the keynote by Nic Gill, High Performance Manager of the New Zealand All Blacks.