While the race to attract talents is raging, the French Government is pushing for strong measures to compete. The lastest one is an extension of the ability for foreign start-ups to attribute stock-options to their employees, with a program called BSPCE. It’s a crucial addition to boost the attractiveness of France for young foreign professionals and strengthen the country’s capacity for innovation. On the same page, a report from the INSEAD recently highlighted the gap between the perception and the reality of the work environment in France.  

The French Government takes significant measures to retain its talents and attract foreigners 

There are a lot of advantages and incentives to work in France, but also to hire in France: the high quality of life and the internationally acclaimed excellence of engineers are two of the main ones. Foreign professionals working in France recognize the strong healthcare system, but also some more general aspects of living in France, such as the climate in some regions, the good food, and the impressive cultural life. To access further information, the website WelcometoFrance.com was launched three years ago and is a great tool for foreigners to settle in the country.  

French public policies are geared towards attracting and keeping talents:  

  • The research tax credit was made permanent in 2018, which should be a strong motivating factor for companies to settle in and grow in France. It will thus enhance the attractiveness of the territory for foreign and native talents working in R&D.   
  • A 30% flat tax was created for the capital revenues, including securities, savings, capital gains, and other sources.  
  • The solidarity wealth tax was abolished for all non-real estate revenues, as individuals will be able to invest more in innovation and company growth.  

Read more: French flexicurity - Interview with Edward Hamilton from the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise

In 2020, a strong push to attract European talents through the BSPCE program

One of the major points of this pro-talent agenda was decided during the annual budget vote for 2020. To better incentivize performance and innovation from their collaborators, companies have access to the BSPCE program, which allows employees to buy at a fixed price shares of the company they are working in. The Government has decided to modify two aspects of this program to make it even more attractive, especially to European talents: 

  • Employees will be able to access shares with a discount compared to the price investors paid at the last fundraising.  
  • The BSPCE system can now be implemented by foreign start-ups if their head office is in the EU or a state or territory having concluded a tax treaty with France. This will benefit their native and foreign employees based in France. 

The hope for these improvements is to “favor the recruitment and the loyalty” of talents by giving them a better share of profit from the growth of their company, according to the French Digital Minister Cedric O. The latter affirms that these measures represent a new asset for our ecosystem by thus stimulating employment and reinforcing our capacities of internationalization and in any case the attractiveness of the national territory. 

Read more: France to boost its start-up Nation status

Cliché and reality on the French working environment 

Rooted in a mix of cliché and factual reality, the perception of the working environment in France relies on a few mainstays. In November 2019, the INSEAD surveyed a sample of native and foreign professionals working in France, to paint an accurate picture of the perceptions, reality, and future of the work environment.  

The first perception is that unlike the Nordic companies, hierarchy is a dominant factor in the working life, as employer-employee relations foster antagonism. There is, therefore, a strong need to build trust and confidence between management and collaborators. Also, if the hard skills of French engineers are largely acclaimed, it is thought that they lack communication and teamwork competencies, among other soft skills.  

To reflect reality, the report separated their findings into three topics: individual skills, corporate culture, and the general environment.  

  • For the individual skills, they notice that there is a shared awareness of the lack of soft skills, both in the companies’ expectations and on the young talent formation. There is also an increased appetite for meaningful work from recent graduates, who highlight the aspect of social impact as crucial.  
  • For the corporate culture, young talents, much as every else, are no longer attracted by employment for life. On the contrary, they are highly flexible for their job locations. Finally, they expect more from their employers, such as learning opportunities, early responsibilities or work-life balance.  
  • For the national environment, there is a noted shift in the mindsets, as French workers are becoming more prone to international openness and English fluency. The high taxation rates are often relativized with the value of public amenities and social benefits. 

Read more: Talent - On the move in France - A report from INSEAD for Choose France 2020