Winning The Talent War Means Thinking Beyond The Office


Dawn Mitchell  Forbes Councils Member

Forbes Human Resources Council

Vice President of HR at Appian, she is responsible for developing and retaining talent while enhancing the culture and talent brand.

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck in early 2020, it ignited significant change in the way we all live and work. As the workforce moves forward in finding what will become the new normal, employers' wants and needs have changed, as have their relationships with employees. Adjustments to roles, routines and priorities have left employees to reconsider how they work, and employers need to follow suit.

As a result of these changes, the job market is more competitive than ever and the talent war is on. Human resources teams must work differently than they did in the past to acquire and retain talent, especially in the midst of "the Great Resignation." Employers must actively support out-of-work interests to prioritize employees and keep them happy. Getting ahead by putting plans in place is critical for all companies to win the talent war.

The Rise Of Remote Employment Relationships

In the past, human resources was responsible for handling day-to-day workplace functions. However, this role changed as the pandemic highlighted the needs of employees outside of the workplace. The new era requires HR to be more proactive in understanding how to support employees as “whole people,” attuned to employee needs both in and out of the office. As employees demand a hybrid or remote employment relationship, how companies successfully build and retain a talented and engaged workforce is different than it once was.

The concept of a culture-driven workplace has been around for many years, with top companies such as Google implementing enticing perks for employees. This used to include company merchandise, luxurious office spaces, team happy hours and more.

As the new normal shifts to fully remote or hybrid work, investments outside of the office are becoming a top priority. Employees want to work for companies that keep work-life balance top of mind and prioritize wellness during and outside of work hours. Today, that looks a lot like remote options, flexible work arrangements, investment in wellness and mental health and more time with family. Employers are expected to keep up with new demands to attract and retain talent.

How Employers Can Get (And Stay) Ahead Of The Curve

Employers need to remember that the workplace and employee needs are continuously evolving. To prevent employees from becoming casualties of the Great Resignation, employers must anticipate how people are adapting to the new normal and strategize to support their workers.

It is possible for employers to have a successful hybrid relationship with their employees while still fostering a high-growth environment. Companies have to ask themselves, what is going to enable our workforce to stay engaged? This can be influenced by an emphasis on wellness and training, defining and respecting boundaries, focusing on clear company goals and giving them work they are excited about.

Employees are attracted to purpose-driven work. They want to work for organizations that bring meaning into their everyday lives. In a survey from McKinsey & Company, nearly two-thirds of U.S.-based employers said Covid-19 caused them to reflect on their purpose in life. Nearly half said they are reconsidering the work they do, and Millennials were three times more likely to say they were reevaluating work. Feeling a genuine connection to work drives investment in the company’s success. A culture of purpose-driven work should be on display in every aspect of an organization.

Hybrid Work May Lead To More Women In Leadership Roles

The shift to remote and hybrid work during the pandemic created more challenges in the delicate work-life balance for women. As a result, many women are taking on junior roles or leaving work entirely because they no longer have the bandwidth to balance careers and their homes or families. According to CBS, nearly three million women left the U.S. labor force over the past year.

The pandemic highlighted a significant need for support and care in the workplace. Flexible workplace relationships can bring more women back to work by offering parental leave policies, childcare support and elder care assistance.

Another large part of this shift is career development and progression. Supporting a path to their future can bring more women into leadership positions. To do so, employers need to put greater stress on honesty in the workplace. Even today, women are still not honest enough about everything they do and the sacrifices they make, especially in leadership roles. Increased honesty among women leaders about the choices made to get to their position can lead to a more successful career path.

Employee work-life balance has never been more important, and it is no longer possible for the need to go unmet. As the world reconciles with new ways of doing things, organizations have the opportunity to create the optimal environment and keep employees engaged.



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