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Even a Recession Can’t Stop the Talent Wars

Fortune MPW NextGen 2018Fortune MPW NextGen 2018
Panelists discussing the wars for talent at companies at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit. Stuart Isett/Fortune

The war for talent is fiercer than ever—but even an economic slowdown predicted in the next few years won’t give employers back all the power.

“Even if there is an economic adjustment or a recession, I think a lot of the overall changes in the balance of power between employees and employers are here to stay,” says Kathryn Minshew, founder and CEO of The Muse.

Minshew, who was referring to employee expectations of greater convenience, among other changes in the employee-employer relationship, spoke at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on Wednesday, alongside Ghazal Asif, vice president of worldwide channels at AppDynamics; Maryanne Caughey, head of talent at Gusto; and moderator Claire Zillman of Fortune.

“It’s an evolution of what talent means,” Minshew says. “There was a sense that their job was to get butts in seats cheap and fast. That language is not common anymore. Talent is much more likely to be reporting to the CEO. It’s a much more strategic function.”

At Gusto, employees compete to provide the most successful referrals in a competition called “Gusto’s Got Talent”—and the company sees higher retention at its Denver offices than in San Francisco. At AppDynamics, the former startup faces a challenge recruiting the kind of entrepreneurial talent that flocked to the company in its early days but has been more reluctant to join the organization after its acquisition by Cisco.

“The needs of businesses are changing faster than the skills and experience of the workforce,” Asif says.