It’s Time to Put Your People at the Heart of Your Talent Strategy

We’re in an extraordinary position right now; it’s been months since we last saw all our employees in a room together and the world around us is changing day by day. As business leaders, we’re starting to realise that it is the people who have adapted to change, worked tirelessly and even made sacrifices that have helped business continuity despite the craziness around us. Plus, as CEO of Airbnb Brian Chesky put so well “when all of this comes to an end people will yearn for something that feels like it’s been taken away from them — human connection.”

People are the driving force behind any business. If the Coronavirus crisis has taught us anything it’s that companies in all industries need to put as much time, effort and dedication into their people-strategy as their digital transformation or innovation strategy; as without the right talent, a business cannot thrive.

As many businesses are preparing to return to work and embrace the changing face of their market, the competition for attracting the best talent will be even more intense. Enterprises realise the value in technical, digital and transferable skills. Organisations lucky enough to recruit will be pulling out all the stops to attract the best and brightest individuals to their workforce to help them grow and evolve. Businesses are at risk of losing their most talented and capable employees to higher wages, better progression, job security and a more attractive company culture; but in the aftermath of a pandemic can you afford for this to happen to you?

When it comes to creating a people-strategy which is truly future-proof post-COVID-19, you must ensure that your existing employees are at the heart. Great organisations treat their staff as an asset rather than an expense; understanding the value of investing in the future of their people. 

The secret is to add value today while planning for tomorrow, and here are just a few ways you can do that:

Align your vision

Defining and aligning your company vision post-Covid19 will help to increase employee loyalty and attract new talent as your business enters the new normal. HR leaders across the globe agree that employees crave a sense of purpose in their work; now is the perfect time to give them one.

Working as a team and collaborating to recover from crisis begins with having clearly defined goals and values that all members of staff can help to achieve. Employees that feel they have a sense of purpose perform better; they’re more likely to rise to senior levels, stay longer and become advocates for your workplace. Mainly because they believe in what they’re working for. Having a purpose will help you to attract and retain like-minded people, as well as stay relevant in a highly competitive post-crisis talent market. 

Appeal to all

Companies must not put all of their focus on one generation. It’s obvious that Millennials and Gen Z are the future of the workforce and have digital skills that will be useful as your business adapts. Still, your existing staff will have skills and knowledge that is invaluable to you and your company. Therefore, it’s imperative that you don’t lose them in the hunt for new talent. Make sure your benefits packages and offerings appeal to everyone while also promoting a culture of inspiration and collaboration; giving everyone a voice. Employees want to feel like their voice is being heard no matter what age, race or gender and no matter how long they’ve been at the business. 

Diversity has a massive impact on a business as varying viewpoints, ideas and goals will help you to see things from additional perspectives. Plus, a diverse workspace attracts more diverse talent, it’s a never-ending cycle that will help you stand the test of time when it’s back to business as usual.

Plan for the future

Any talent-strategy should involve talent mapping to some degree, but when coming out of a crisis, it’s even more crucial. You must analyse the people in your organisation and what your business hopes to achieve within the next few years to understand how you will get there. The market may be uncertain, but a clear plan and vision will guide you through. 

Talent mapping will allow you to identify skills gaps, work out your managers of tomorrow and spend time training and upskilling employees. All of this will provide opportunities for your existing employees to learn and advance, helping them to see a future with you and improving your employee value proposition.

Talent Mapping will also reduce risk if key members of staff do decide to move on, as junior members won’t feel overwhelmed with work suddenly. Employers need to understand that life after COVID-19 will be strange and will impact mental health, so employees must be prepared for inevitable change and feel comfortable stepping up to the challenge. However, don’t always go for like replacements. With tech advancements, the workplace landscape is always changing, and it’s likely we’ll never return to our familiar ways of working again; staff leaving may provide an opportunity to do things differently and evolve your business. 

Provide opportunities

With the uncertainty that the past few months has given us, employees want to see clear progression opportunities in their work more than ever. From learning a new skill to help in a changing world, gaining a qualification, a potential promotion or even learning more about another area of the business; providing your workforce with the opportunity to grow and learn will encourage them to stay with you long-term after coronavirus. Not only does it show you care about their future and value them as part of your business, but if they’re happy at work and have the promise of progression the temptation from another organisation will be much less. 

Be more flexible

After the coronavirus crisis left most of us all working remotely, we can’t expect to go back to the same rigid office hours. Employees have shown they can adapt to working at home and in many cases have proven it has minimal effects on productivity. They want to feel more in control of their working day and ensure their work can, when needed, fit around their daily life. This doesn’t mean you should let employees dictate when, where and how they will work but providing part-time contracts for parents, the opportunity to work from home if needed or allowing flexible hours to make time for medical appointments will work in your favour. Understanding and flexing around the implications of commitments like family life or caregiving will portray you as a conscientious employer and will mean employees are motivated to stay with you.

Hire leaders you’re proud of

A line manager relationship is the most vital relationship to an employee as it’s the individual they’re supposed to talk to about issues and trust with making their career both successful and enjoyable. In the up and coming months, employees will need more guidance, support and empathy than ever before as we’re still coming to terms with a different way of life and are surrounded by uncertainty. Having inspirational leaders that are easy to talk to and negotiate with will vastly improve your company culture. A line-manager who is perceived as a bully or makes staff feel uncomfortable is almost guaranteed to lose you employees, especially in times of crisis. Make sure all your managers uphold company values, are regularly checking on their team and are the type of person you want representing your business. Run regular training for your management teams to make sure values are upheld and remember a happy workforce will funnel down from the top.

Be kind!

As an employer, a little bit of kindness can go a long way in the eyes of your employees. We’ve seen so many examples of employers treating their staff both well and appallingly throughout the coronavirus crisis, which shows the importance of a kind attitude. Just because we’re back to business as usual, it doesn’t mean this will go away.

Simple gestures like recognition of a job well done, small gifts and bonuses or an extra day off for a birthday are just some examples of employers going the extra mile for their employee’s welfare. 69% of employees say they’d work harder if they were better appreciated; so, some small gestures of gratitude could result in a thriving and productive workforce. It’s a win-win! Remember, your employees are humans and not machines, they have emotions, so a bit of good old-fashioned kindness will always be appreciated, especially in these overwhelming times!

Making a few small changes to your company culture in the wake of COVID-19 could help you to retain employees despite temptation from outside organisations. From kind gestures to exciting opportunities, treating employees right will lay the foundation for your employer brand and encourage retention.

Business will never be the same again, and as we realise the value in our staff and personal relationships, it’s time to put your people at the centre. Remember, today’s employees want clear career-paths, more flexibility and to be treated like human beings; put these things into play and your talent will be far more likely to stay with you and help you grow in a post-COVID world.