[LTR] A recent study by the society for Human Resource Management, a leading American HR organization, identified that the top key issue facing organizations in the next ten years is the attraction, recruitment and selection of top talent, and the ability to retain, reward and invest in this top talent once they are on board. This is a phenomenon that is not limited to the United States but will also be a key issue for Canadian organizations as well.

First of all, the market will be an "employee's" market as new entry candidates and seasoned candidates will be in short supply. Secondly, today's employees want a different work environment, and if organizations don't adapt to these needs, they will not be attractive and will not be successful in meeting their recruitment needs.

So, what do employees want? It has been long said that the new generations have different needs but I can safely say as a leading executive recruitment professional, that most candidates I've met over the past few years, no matter what age, have very similar personal desires and needs.

Most importantly, candidates want to have some flexibility to balance their life and work. Older candidates for instance are often dealing with older parent issues, others are dealing with teenager and university student issues, while younger workers simply want more flexibility to live, work and play.

Candidates in the next ten years will be demanding an organizational culture where there is open communication, trust, transparency and fairness demonstrated by leaders at all levels of the organization. They will want to know how their work contributes to the overall goals of their organization and they want to be part of the achievement. They want more of a role in decision making, they want to be able to innovate as well as take and be rewarded for calculated risks.

Even more importantly, these employees want to become continuous learners with opportunities to gain new skills, stretch their capabilities and try out new roles and responsibilities. They aren't worried about titles but they certainly want to be provided with fair market compensation and benefit package. Organizations will also have to keep up with the latest technology because these folks are computer savvy and want the latest tools in order to maximize their efficiency and effectiveness.

And as the environmental issues grow in importance, you will also find candidates who will assess your organization for its commitment to social responsibility and sustainability. Candidates want to work for organizations that have a sense of responsibility for the environment around them. Creative and innovative opportunities for employees to volunteer on environmental causes will be one of the attractions for your candidates.

Finally, although it can be difficult at times, employees want to be respected and appreciated for their individualism, for their own personal skills, capabilities, interests and gifts. They want clear direction and clear roles and responsibilities so that they know where they fit in an organization. They want to be led by leaders who are passionate about their work, who can assist people to get excited about where the organization and/or the industry is going, and how each can contribute to success.

While the candidates may be hard to find, they are indeed out there. The challenge today's organizations face is creating an organizational culture that is attractive to these candidates and this is indeed hard to do. It means letting go of the old style top-down leadership and it means developing processes for more employee consultation, employee independence and creativity. Failure to do so creates the impression of an old fashioned, stodgy organization that is locked in stifling ways of doing things. Yes, you can polish up the marketing image, brighten up your company brochures and put emphasis on being "the best place to work" but you won't fool anyone. Unless you change the way you do things, your turnover will be high while your reputation will flounder.

Although the challenges of attracting new staff are forecasted for the next ten years, in my view, the challenge is NOW!