The war for talent is the most important battle in the world today. Every company with a global market (which means almost all of them, regardless of their size) know that their future survival will depend on whether they can retain the best employees and recruit the best from among new entrants in the labor market. Many companies will die for lack of this resource, well before dying for lack of money.

To attract and retain talent, several conditions will have to be met.

First, if possible, these young people should be trained in the country where the company is headquartered, because it is easier to recruit people trained in the cultural environment where the company is located than to recruit people from far away. For a French company, it means that the talent war begins in schools and universities. If large numbers of young French people go abroad to pursue higher education, French companies will have less chance of attracting them. Similarly, in order to attract foreign talent to our companies, it is essential to attract them to our universities, which goes completely against France’s recent decision to charge higher tuition fees in French universities to non-EU foreign students. The pretext is misleading: supposedly, what is cheap is not taken seriously. In my opinion, this pretext is exactly the opposite of what future trends have shown us! In the long run, the best students in the world will go where they are best received, and even, in the long term, where they will be paid the most to come and study; in the form of scholarships, or in the manner they are received. This is already the case in the best Anglo-Saxon universities, which, reversing their old trends (which led to pharaonic student debt), are now doing everything they can to attract the best students. And this is also the case in some countries of Northern Europe and Germany, which have begun to understand that training is a socially useful activity that deserves a salary, so everything must be done to attract foreign students.

Secondly, a company must be able to offer these young employees not only competitive salaries, but also, beyond that, offer them something meaningful. In other words, it must be able to demonstrate to them that the company is honest, and that the company and its suppliers are making every effort to protect the environment and recycle waste, and that the company respects and ensures that its subcontractors and suppliers comply with their obligations regarding labor laws and regulations. This represents, what we are beginning to call a “positive company.”

Finally, the company must be able to keep its executives, by offering them permanent training and attractive career prospects.

It is not easy. In today’s world, the loyalty of employees is no more assured than that of voters or a sentimental partner. Everyone is free and, therefore, thinks he or she is morally entitled to be disloyal.

The war for talent is all the more vital and difficult. To win the war, we must rethink the entire policy on how we train people, both in the nation and in companies. The customer is no longer the only one who is king. The employee is too.