Digitalization is on the rise in the area of new employee recruitment, with different issues also having an impact. Patric Lenherr, Head Talent Acquisition, explains in an interview which challenges his team faces on a daily basis and what recruitment will look like in the future.

Patric Lenherr

Patric Lenherr, Head Talent Acquisition, KPMG Switzerland

Which criteria do applicants prioritize when choosing a company? What does KPMG do to meet those criteria?

The past few years have brought an enormous shift in employees’ needs. Development opportunities and a high salary alone are no longer key factors when choosing an employer. The importance of flexible working time models and a well-functioning team is growing. Likewise, a job’s meaningfulness and company culture are also playing an increasingly important role. That’s where KPMG can score points. Our employees not only appreciate our open, international working environment, but also the fact that we treat one another as equals. Each and every employee is able to develop his or her own personal interests and skills and is expected to contribute to the company and assume responsibility. The high level of trust that KPMG places in its staff is a powerful motivator – for the younger generation, in particular.

Which challenges does KPMG currently face on the job market?

The ‘war for talent’ isn’t merely an empty phrase – we feel the impact of this fierce competition, as well. The escalating shortage of specialists as well as employees’ growing expectations are factors contributing to the current reality that recruiting young talent needs to be approached with much the same intensity as for management and board positions in the past. This is where we have to clearly set ourselves apart from our competitors on the job market. Attractive employer branding that also focuses on employees and alumni has joined high-level recruiting as a key success factor. The fact that Swiss labor law fails to sufficiently factor in new social and economic trends poses yet another challenge. It’s high time for us to be given greater flexibility so we can respond to our clients’ needs both promptly and in a more agile way. 

Which talent acquisition trends are currently on your mind? Can you make out any new trends yet for the year ahead?

Application processes will become even more automated, which will optimize the processes and boost efficiency. The various platforms will gradually merge and a growing number of tools will be implemented in the areas of HR analytics, scheduling and sourcing. But we’ll also want to get to know the person behind the résumé in the future, as well. After all, we’re not just interested in someone’s professional qualifications, but also in whether they’re a good match for KPMG. Other areas of focus include increasingly flexible working models and the topic of inclusion and diversity. Only employers with a holistic approach to these issues will be able to maintain their status as an attractive employer going forward. A company’s ability to clearly incorporate and communicate its employer value proposition is indispensable when it comes to acquiring and retaining the very best employees. This will hinge greatly on interpersonal communication and the networking skills of both the recruiters and the employees.

To what extent have working models changed since the start of the coronavirus crisis? What impact are these changes having on recruitment?

The coronavirus pandemic has already accelerated pre-existing trends such as the flexibilization of work, to name one example. The economy has recognized that location-independent working can be advantageous for customers, the company and employees, even if direct, in-person dialog with customers, whether on site or in the office, will always be a pivotal success factor. The declining relevance of our employees’ place of residence will also have consequences for talent recruitment – including across national borders. Employment relationships will end up becoming much more flexible, including arrangements with freelancers who have specific expertise in areas such as artificial intelligence, data science and blockchain.

KPMG won this year’s Best Recruiters award. What will KPMG do to ensure that it wins the title again next year?

We’re proud of this accolade but aren’t planning to rest on our laurels. Competition on the talent market is fierce and recruitment is a daily challenge. Apart from the firm’s talent acquisition activities, the only way we’ll be able to preserve our high level of quality is if each and every KPMG employee demonstrates a high level of commitment to recruitment and acts as an ambassador. We’re in the fortunate position of having a team that is passionate, committed and loves their jobs. They all want to effect change, contribute new ideas and make things better. Our company culture also gives them the freedom they need to try something new from time to time and bravely break new ground. We’re convinced that this energy will help us take our recruitment activities up another notch going forward. 

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