5 Strategic Ways to Win The Upcoming Post-Pandemic War for Talent

5 Strategic Ways to Win The Upcoming Post-Pandemic War for Talent

5 Strategic Ways to Win The Upcoming Post-Pandemic War for Talent

5 Strategic Ways to Win The Upcoming Post-Pandemic War for Talent

5 Strategic Ways to Win The Upcoming Post-Pandemic War for Talent

Five Strategic Ways to Win The Upcoming Post-Pandemic War for Talent

Five Strategic Ways to Win The Upcoming Post-Pandemic War for Talent

It’s a war zone out there, isn’t it? Not only may your company be battling literally every other organization out there to attract talent, but with how workers are now leaving their current jobs in droves, you’re also fighting the war of retaining talent. Here are five strategic ways leaders and organizations can create best-in-class employee experiences and win the war for talent.

The world of work is outdated. This has become increasingly obvious in recent years — and then the pandemic hit and the need for a new normal became even more urgent.

One of the biggest things business leaders should have been paying attention to is the war for talent. This refers to an increasingly competitive landscape for recruiting and retaining talented employees. Now we are faced with new challenges that we’ve never seen before. When it comes to the war for talent, it’s about fixing more than one problem. It’s about re-inventing the world of working — how work and the rest of life intersect. That is to say that in order to win the war for talent, companies will have to truly reinvent work.

In today’s rapidly changing work environment, the competition for recruiting and retaining top talent has never been tougher.

What we’re seeing now is a shift in the power within the employer-employee relationship, and the future success of your organization is going to lie in how you respond to that. The pandemic has both instigated and accelerated fundamental shifts in the labor market. Suddenly creating more time to reflect and a focus on how we live and work has provoked a collective re-evaluation of what people want from their careers.

The starting gun in the race for talent has been fired. The Baby Boomers are starting to leave the workforce, and the impending retirement of more looms.

Global expansion into unfamiliar markets, like China, has begun, but our schools continue to fail to prepare a large enough pool of high potential, financially literate candidates for leadership positions. Business owners are learning they can no longer view hiring and development as HR battles that can be waged intermittently and sporadically when the company has an opening. Instead, wise leaders know executive inattention to the race will have tangible and dire consequences.

You may ask: Why has this talent war become so intense? What will it take to win the war for talent? Let’s find out!

The way that most companies have traditionally viewed talent simply doesn’t work anymore. So, how do you keep employees from jumping ship — especially when yours is a smaller enterprise, and the competition is dangling increases in salary and benefits that you simply can’t match? These five strategies will elevate your talent game in this new decade.

Strategy #1: Flexibility is Key

Five Strategic Ways to Win The Upcoming Post-Pandemic War for Talent - Flexibility is Key

We’ve all been forced to experiment with non-standard work situations over the past year that we would have never voluntarily implemented. But what we’ve learned during this time is that there are many benefits to these flexible and hybrid work arrangements, and the talent market is demanding that we keep an open mind and consider new and creative work solutions going forward. As work culture transcends the nine to five, employees demand a job that values their strengths and contributions and allows them the space to do what they love every day.

Being open to offering a flexible schedule in today’s market is a must-have on a majority of applicants’ lists.

It’s been reported that up to half of employees might quit their jobs if remote or hybrid work arrangements are not provided post-pandemic. Due to this new norm, industries across the board are now competing on a national scale rather than with their local markets. By choosing not to employ remote workers, you are actively limiting your candidate pool. Offering a flexible work schedule is becoming non-negotiable when keeping up with the competition. With job seekers in the driver’s seat and in a position to make demands, hiring managers need to be listening.

The shift from working in offices to more people working remotely is going to have a significant impact as it will change how the concept of full-time employment works. 

People now have more time and freedom to work from any location, so quite a few will use this opportunity to pursue several full-time careers. Job-seekers will think less about specific careers but more in terms of several side-careers and series of journeys. Come-in, get results, and go on the next journey. It is why for some industries, it’d be better to have hybrid workforces. A mix of full-time employees and a group of consultants as a default setup. It also means that management, organization-specific training, part-time office staff will have less control in the future. Staff will be in total control as loyalty won’t exist. Only the output of a person will matter.

One of the most significant changes employers are facing is the demand for increased job flexibility from workers of all disciplines and professions.

Flexibility means different things to different people. Knowledge workers are continuing to express a decided preference for working at home, at least part of the time. Some are also seeking location-agnostic roles, as they trade city dwellings for new locales in small towns and suburbs. For others, including site-specific industrial and construction roles, flexibility means implementing, providing people to ability to select hours and days worked, and even work based on outcomes, not hours. Another trend that is gaining momentum is the 4-day workweek, which is proving to deliver remarkable  for the organizations that have tested shorter workweeks.

Nine in ten employees want flexibility in where and when they work.

Last year, Reddit announced it would continue to allow its employees to work remotely. The company also decided not to cut pay for workers who choose to relocate to another city, saying the move would help them attract high quality talent. Similarly, Zillow announced it would continue to pay remote workers the same amount no matter where they live. This plan is part of Zillow’s efforts to grow its employee base by 40 percent in 2021, adding more than 2,000 workers across the country. As more employees find flexible work arrangements increasingly attractive, it’s time for companies to examine how they can incorporate flexibility into their long-term workplace strategy. The best option is shifting to a hybrid workplace model, which many companies are experimenting with to meet employee and business needs and to attract and retain world-class talent.

Strategy #2: Provide Employees with Growth Opportunities

Five Strategic Ways to Win The Upcoming Post-Pandemic War for Talent - Provide Employees with Growth Opportunities

Managers aren’t the only ones who want better growth opportunities, however. In fact, the No. 1 reason employees say they will look for a new job in the next year is for a chance to grow professionally. Growth is key for everyone. It’s important for employees to own their career and let their managers know they’re looking for growth opportunities so their managers can support and guide employees in developing their abilities.

People in today’s workforce, especially Gen-Zers, have high expectations for continuous learning and development.

And it starts with creating a culture of continual learning and change. The companies that recognize this and respond to it will be able to attract and retain better candidates who will grow with the organization. To stay ahead of your future hiring needs, develop a comprehensive learning and development strategy that forecasts the skills you will need in the future and develops your people to match your future needs. One challenge smaller enterprises face is the comparative lack of growth opportunities for strong performers. It’s not uncommon to lose motivated employees who were otherwise happy simply because there was no opportunity for upward growth. However, they can create opportunities for development within their own ranks, providing valuable experience for employees, whilst also building up the company’s bench strength.

Cross-functional opportunities can be incredibly beneficial to all concerned.

Both employer and employees benefit when people find new strengths and hone their unique abilities. Similarly, the impact of cross-pollination across the organization can be profound: as employees develop new relationships and a deeper understanding of the business, they will spread new ideas and perspectives across the organization. Exposing different employees to a variety of managers can also help those leaders become less biased, enabling the company to more strongly supports its diversity and inclusion goals, and expanding the pool of candidates hiring managers will consider.

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Strategy #3: Put Culture First

Five Strategic Ways to Win The Upcoming Post-Pandemic War for Talent - Put Culture First

More than ever, people are choosing to work for companies that can clearly articulate their reason for being. Make sure your vision and strategy are well documented and presented in a way that makes it easy for people to connect the work they’re doing on a daily basis to the greater good. Invest in strategic planning, town-hall company meetings, and a tool like Rhythm that connects strategy to execution.

Work must have meaning, and potential employees want organizations with a mission and purpose.

When a candidate is deciding if they should apply to a company, their first instinct will be to dig up some background information and see if they can picture themselves at the company. Ensuring consistent, clean, and up-to-date branding across all platforms positions you as a well-oiled machine, and instills a sense of confidence — which will result in more applicants. Enticing a candidate to join a new company goes beyond what’s written on an offer. Most potential hires are conducting their own research on companies they’re looking to join, digitally. With the internet as the new marketplace, it is absolutely crucial to have a stellar online reputation and top-notch digital branding in place.

Besides, a set of strong company values helps you connect with employees at a deeper level.

Every employee looks for a stable job that provides a lot of freedom and a platform to create their own processes. At the same time, they need to feel relaxed at work. For starters, modern organizations have become outcome-driven. Less time is spent on the things that don’t affect the results. For example, employee outfits, work locations (for remote workers), schedule, etc. If you offer ownership and autonomy to employees, they’ll produce remarkable results out of care for the organization. All of this will lead to people staying longer and doing better at work.

In the future, your people and your culture will be the differentiator.

That’s the reason why organizations need to find ways to build engaging and supportive workplace cultures. The cost of failure will be high. You won’t be able to attract the next generation of talent to your organization. Worse — you won’t be able to keep hold of your existing talent. Hiring for culture fit involves showcasing your culture and evaluating candidates for culture fit. But there’s another side to this; one that’s less prominent but equally, if not more, important. It has to do with building a culture that will attract the best talent out there.

The times have changed, what employees want has changed.

They no longer stay with companies for a lifetime, in jobs where their ideas get shut down, patiently waiting for retirement. They want freedom, flexibility and trust. And if they find those, they’re more likely to stay with your company and bring other people with them. Whether your culture is broken, a bit off or brand new, take a moment to think about your values. And once you do have core values, you need to tell the world. Compensation is key to an individual’s choice of employer — but it ranks below other factors. The culture and values of an organization, followed closely by the quality of senior leadership and the career opportunities at the company, are higher drivers of workplace satisfaction.

Strategy #4: Treat Employees Well

Five Strategic Ways to Win The Upcoming Post-Pandemic War for Talent - Treat Employees Well

It is important to mentor not manage, and to lead rather than govern. Everyone within an organization should be assigned a mentor who can coach, troubleshoot, inspire, motivate and lead an employee to achieve success. Clear lines of communication throughout the enterprise will prevent miscommunication from creating unnecessary problems. Poor performance is indicative of poor leadership. If you have continuous performance problems that cannot be corrected, then what you really have is a leadership problem.

Companies need to focus on what policies and programs they can offer that show employees that they matter to the company.

One way to demonstrate to employees that they are valued is to personalize their talent journey. Companies should look at the needs of the individual and ensure it’s provided. For example, many companies cross-train employees so they can move from one area to another as they advance in their career. At the end of the day, a happy employee is not only good for the current state of the business, in terms of strong productivity, but it is also good for the future of the business as favorable reports on working conditions find their way to social media and can attract future employees.

Take a look at your workforce. Without a doubt, there are at least a handful of people that have been with you through thick and thin, and are still willing to jump on the next grenade that comes close.

Do yourself a favor and acknowledge that commitment. Again, I’m not talking about a pizza party. Bring those workers in for one-on-ones and find out what you can do to make their day better. Maybe it’s letting them take a half-day on Friday to spend more time with their family. Maybe it’s the simple acknowledgment and appreciation. Small gestures can have a big impact with people. Take time to show appreciation. Your company just needs to position itself to satisfy their wants and needs for as many people as possible. That’s how you win this war.

Yes, your current employees do help you hire better. Treat them well and they’ll not only perform better but refer other amazing folks to join the mission of your company.

That said, it’s not enough to have an annual awards banquet. Today’s employees want frequent recognition. There are dozens of ways to recognize employees, from digital celebration cards and gift cards to corporate outings. If you don’t already have an employee recognition program in place, it’s time to consider one. Building a culture of recognition encourages employees to recognize another (whether peer-to-peer or top-down) in the moment and on a frequent basis. Having a strong workplace culture built around spreading employee appreciation can lead to your company gaining a reputation for being a best place to work.

By working in fun, short-term incentives you can reward people quickly for excellent work, rather than having them wait for a review period.

It’s easier to conceptualize for many employees rather than distant, long-term goals. When you aim these incentives towards a long-term goal then you have a recipe for success. This may sound like a strange one, but in my experience, annual schemes rarely work. Basing bonuses yearly means that performances often get boosted only in the three-month period leading up to review. You want your teams delivering every month, every week, every day. That’s why short-term incentives can sometimes play a greater role in boosting morale.

Strategy #5: Roll Out the Red Carpet

Five Strategic Ways to Win The Upcoming Post-Pandemic War for Talent - Roll Out the Red Carpet

Winning the war for talent requires an overall mindset shift. If you really want to hire the best talent, you need to go beyond HR and transform all areas that touch people and culture. Our society’s current obsession with performance and profitability tends to lead businesses in the wrong direction. The future is about fast adaptability and a growth mindset — and these things are only achievable with a strong workforce.

Recruiters of the past who are known to post and pray are no longer effective and are being replaced by super-recruiters who are part headhunter, part digital strategist and part customer-service expert.

Today’s tech tools can cut through most of the legwork so recruiters or hiring managers can focus on marketing your employment brand and the candidate experience. When you have an open position, don’t just think about posting a standard job description on standard job boards. Think of it as a marketing and PR exercise. Tell the story of the company, the culture, the purpose, the opportunities. Why would someone choose to work for you over all the other companies hiring right now? And remember that your current workforce is your biggest network of recruiters. Encourage employees to post and share job openings, and incentivize them to bring friends and family to you.

Develop and use a solid process in your recruiting efforts that begins with a values-based approach to hiring.

This doesn’t just mean hire a top producer, but rather hire a quality individual that is a person of integrity and character. A new hire should be someone that has invested in themselves, made good career decisions, understands why they want to be a part of your organization, is an excellent communicator and a team player. Don’t hire quickly based on gut feel, but rather take time in the interviewing process to let the prospective new hire get a feel for your culture and your company. Never oversell the company, in fact, disclose all the problems and weaknesses of the organization so that the new hire can make a good decision that won’t be later unwound by inconsistent messaging or practices.

The current job market is in the hands of the job seekers — so it’s important to get to know your audience.

Millennials for example, (who in just five short years will comprise almost 50% of the workforce) have different expectations for jobs than their predecessors did. Now more than ever, companies need to be rolling out the red carpet and concede to the demands of those on the job hunt. Large, leading tech companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have been perfect examples of this in the past as we’ve seen them building, or rehabbing office spaces to make them attractive and appealing to workers. However, today’s climate calls for a little more creativity as the majority of companies and candidates are switching to the work from home model, making fancy office spaces obsolete. Companies are now branching out, offering new incentives like Peloton bikes, paid time off for mental health, additional vacation days, raises, and bonuses to keep their employees motivated and happy.

Poaching and persuading top talent isn’t an altogether new concept but with today’s market, it’s now become a crucial part of everyone’s talent search.

The rule of thumb when recruiting for top talent while competing in any industry is to assume there is always another offer on the table. Whether the candidate is actively interviewing for other roles or gets offered a promotion/raise by their current employer when handing in their notice — push your boundaries and dive deep to find what you can offer that no one else will. Great candidates have multiple job offers, so if you don’t engage them, they will join another company. Early engagement in the pre-onboarding stage needs to happen if you want to see your favorite applicant joining your firm.

Wrapping Up

Five Strategic Ways to Win The Upcoming Post-Pandemic War for Talent Final Thoughts
Hiring is the most important people function you have, and most of us aren’t as good at it as we think. Refocusing your resources on hiring better will have a higher return than almost any training program you can develop.<span class="su-quote-cite">Laszlo Bock</span>

With the intensity of today’s job market, offering unique benefits, remaining flexible and fast-acting, and ensuring retention after a hire is made can give your company the edge it needs to land top talent. Just like this job market overall, the way recruiting is conducted is changing at unprecedented speeds.

It’s a new working world and relationships between employers and employees are changing.

Businesses no longer have to be offering the biggest pay packets to attract the best and brightest, in fact, that’s not what many are looking for. Embracing flexibility, encouraging a culture of recognition, praise, and purpose, and adopting platforms that unlock personalized support and benefits for employees, wherever they are, is the order of the day and can make all the difference in attraction and retention.

At the end of the day, we’re all people, we all have our own wants and needs, and those wants and needs need to be satisfied.

If they aren’t satisfied, and there are other opportunities out there to find that satisfaction, it’s human nature to pursue those possibilities. Your company just needs to position itself to satisfy those wants and needs for as many people as possible. That’s how you win this war.

The first step for any company hoping to recruit and retain top talent is to acknowledge that the talent has already won.

The business environment has become competitive enough that people with valuable skill sets can find the arrangement that best suits their lifestyle. Companies who are willing to be flexible in terms of roles and hiring models will have a better chance of obtaining the best talent — and their organizations will profit immensely because of it. The companies who will thrive in the next few years will learn to embrace that change and will figure out how to make it work for them.

Whether we like it or not, the nature of work has changed, and the future of work is here! Pay attention to what your employees and prospects are telling you with an open mind and a creative spirit, and you’ll do well.

As we’ve seen, winning the war for talent is about acknowledging the challenges facing organizations when it comes to acquiring top talent, while navigating these challenges with a fresh mindset. I believe that those who will ultimately win in this war for talent will think globally, supply and support the infrastructure for a decentralized workforce, and provide meaningful answers to the tough questions future hires are asking. Do you know strategies to win the war of talent? Let me know in the comments below!

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5 Strategic Ways to Win The Upcoming Post-Pandemic War for Talent

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