I’m not given to making New Year’s resolutions or predictions. Even so, I do believe that the industry’s talent war will escalate.

That said, I would ask you to make a resolution of sorts. Look in the mirror (so to speak) and consider your corporate culture. Are you prepared to do anything new - or different - in the coming year to attract new talent and retain your company's top performers?

Or how about doing something new or different just to attract better ideas? Last year, I recognized General Mills’ formal program (a “Worldwide Innovation Network”) to solicit relevant new product and process ideas. Breaking with convention, Big G officials admitted that they don’t have all the answers and that the company cannot afford to employ everyone. Bottom line: So long as it can apply winning ideas to its core businesses, accelerate the speed of innovation and gain meaningful market share – General Mills doesn’t mind sharing the credit and rewards.

More directly, I also admire McCain Foods’ efforts to attract and retain talent – both at home (at the corporate headquarters) and abroad (at plant locations).

For starters, Chief Executive Officer Frank van Schaayk told me that McCain has stepped up its commitment to leadership development. Today’s company uses key performance indicators to provide emerging leaders with more effective and constructive evaluations. McCain also offers more tools and incentives – everything from daily online leadership development training to advancement within McCain’s larger global network.

Following an example set by Global President and CEO Dale Morrison, van Schaayk also meets annually with his emerging leaders. During this informal, off-site time, van Schaayk shares McCain’s directional goals and strategies and he encourages leaders to voice their thoughts and concerns.

Meanwhile, all McCain employees can participate in other company-paid programs and incentives. These programs encourage smoking cessation, ongoing fitness and regular health check-ups. At some locations, McCain even provides health coaches to employees who voluntarily ask for assistance with lifestyle changes and improvements.

Perhaps not surprisingly, officials noted that McCain’s PPO medical plan insurance premiums remained at 2005 rates through all of 2007. That’s amazing to me. Moreover, it’s an example of how everyone wins in such a proactive human resources environment.