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What makes a country attractive for talent? Not taxes but opportunity

February 18, 2012

In Canada, when you hear government, civic or industry leaders talk about what makes the country attractive for business, they inevitably fall back on tax benefits.

I’m not saying taxes aren’t important, but to be honest, the answer largely misses the point, especially from a talent perspective.

It is not all about pay (or taxes- ed) either. As one HR director told the authors, intelligent people will only stay “if you can offer them a great place in which to express their cleverness and other clever people to work with.” In this sense, the challenge of keeping hold of your best people forces the employer to ask how to make the organization more attractive and offer them a more valuable experience.

What is true for a company is true for a country (at least, in this instance.) That is why we talk so much about building an “ecosystem” in Canada. If the ecosystem keeps losing because people leave, or are acquired to the US, or don’t even set up shop to begin with, for the people that stay there is a lack of interaction or opportunity to work with other ambitious people or organizations. And that is a greater negative than any high or low tax rate.

Also, other clever people won’t enter or return to the region because they don’t want to be part of a muted ecosystem where from the outset there is limited opportunity to learn and grow.

To think more critically on how to encourage talented people to stay or move to Canada, the focus has to be less on things like taxes and more on how to build opportunities for people to move from one career to another and yet still stay be a contributing part of the local ecosystem.

Corporate war for talent is being waged worldwide – The Globe and Mail.

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