Winning The War For Talent

28th June 2024
Pemba War on talent tom matthews scaled - Winning The War For Talent

Tom Matthews

Many of the companies we partner with at Pemba are people-based businesses that operate in fast growing end markets, where there is often a demand supply imbalance (i.e. where demand outpaces the available supply of qualified / experienced staff).  In these supply-constrained markets, the battle for talent rages fierce.  Securing top-tier professionals is not merely a pursuit but a strategic imperative for sustained business success.

Pemba’s experience in people-based businesses

At Pemba, we invest in five key defensive growth sectors, namely: technology (software and specialist IT services), healthcare, training & education, financial services and essential business services.  We spend a lot of time segmenting each sector into specific sub-sectors and niches, overlaying our key investment criteria to these niches and then “activating” the niches that best fit our key investment criteria.

Many of the specific end markets we invest in are people-based, where there are demand supply imbalances, often with chronic supply shortages.  Some examples of such end markets / niches include: veterinary services (where there is a global shortage of veterinary professionals), net zero advisory, healthcare staffing and services, infrastructure advisory, cyber security, etc.

This article describes some of the ways we, at Pemba, think about winning the war for talent in supply constrained markets.


At Pemba, we have a really strong focus on PEOPLE.  We believe that whilst capital is an important part of successful businesses, the most crucial element is the talent and leadership driving them.  This is even more true of people-based businesses, where they key assets in the organisation are the people and the “IP” or “know-how” of the organisation walks out the door every evening.

For us, building lasting success in people-based, supply-constrained markets comes down to being able to (i) attract; and (ii) retain the best talent.

Winning the war for talent

To emerge triumphant in this talent war, companies must adopt innovative strategies tailored to the challenges of supply constraints.  Here’s how to navigate these turbulent waters and claim victory:

Attracting the best talent:

  1. Cultivate a compelling employer brand: Your employer brand is your most powerful asset in attracting talent. Craft a narrative that showcases the company’s culture, values, and opportunities for personal and professional growth. Leverage employee testimonials and success stories to paint a vivid picture of life within your organisation. In a market where talent is scarce, a strong employer brand can be the deciding factor for top candidates
  2. Incorporate a Market-Leading Employee Value Proposition (EVP): Your EVP is the cornerstone of your employer brand. Define what sets you apart from the competition and articulate the unique benefits of working for your organisation. Whether it’s a commitment to innovation, a culture of diversity and inclusion, unparalleled opportunities for growth, or market-leading perks / benefits, your EVP should resonate with top talent and inspire them to join your team
  3. Leverage technology: Traditional recruitment methods often fall short in supply-constrained markets. Embrace technology to streamline your hiring process and identify top talent efficiently. AI-powered recruitment platforms, data analytics, and targeted advertising can help you reach the right candidates at the right time. Leverage social media and professional networking sites to amplify your employer brand and engage with passive candidates
  4. Forge strategic partnerships: Collaborate with educational institutions, industry associations, and community organisations to access a diverse talent pool. Establish internship programs, co-op opportunities, and apprenticeships to groom future talent and bridge skill gaps. Strategic partnerships not only enhance your talent pipeline but also reinforce your reputation as an employer of choice.

Retaining top talent:

  1. Autonomy: Daniel Pink in his best-selling book Drive talks about all people having a deep-seated desire to direct their own lives.  Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more in their work lives
  2. Invest in talent development: In supply-constrained markets, nurturing talent from within is paramount. Implement robust training programs, mentorship initiatives, and career advancement pathways to empower your workforce. By demonstrating a commitment to their growth and development, you not only attract top talent but also cultivate a loyal and high-performing team.  Daniel Pink refers to this as providing opportunities for ‘Mastery’ – the ability to extend and expand employees’ capabilities
  3. Interesting, and ideally meaningful, work: Daniel Pink in his book Drive states that: “The science shows that the secret to high performance isn’t our biological drive or our reward-and-punishment drive, but our third drive—our deep-seated desire to live a life of purpose.”  Purpose means the feeling that our work is having a genuine impact, and contributing meaningfully to something bigger, and part of a greater good, whether that’s for our colleagues, clients, or society at large
  4. Prioritise employee well-being: A healthy and happy workforce is a productive workforce. Invest in employee wellness programs, employee assistance programs, mental health support services, and work-life balance initiatives. By prioritising their well-being, you not only attract top talent but also foster a culture of care and compassion within the organisation, which leads to stronger retention
  5. Utilise the superpower of incentives. Incentives are a powerful tool in business.  When used correctly, they can motivate employees to achieve their goals, create a positive work environment, act as an effective retention mechanism and drive business success.


In conclusion, winning the war for talent in supply-constrained markets requires a strategic and multi-faceted approach. By cultivating a compelling employer brand, incorporating a market-leading EVP, leveraging technology, forging strategic partnerships, ensuring autonomy, investing in talent development, providing interesting and meaningful work, prioritising employee well-being, and utilising the superpower of incentives, organisations can attract, retain, and nurture top talent to drive sustainable growth and success.  In the battle for talent, those who adapt and innovate will emerge as the ultimate victors.

Next steps

If you would like to learn more about anything covered in this article, then please get in touch and I’ll be happy to discuss further.

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