The new workplace reality
Culture and employee experience may require reinvention from the ground up
In my humble opinion, there has never been a cooler or more innovative time to be in human resources than today.
The status quo has died at our feet, and our workplace culture and employee experience, in many cases, require reinvention from the ground up. How do we harness technology and remote work to keep everyone safe? How can camaraderie be fostered with everyone at such a distance? What conditions might make your company’s workforce acquisition and retention strategies more vulnerable? These questions, and more, must be proactively addressed in order optimize your organization’s competitive advantage during these completely unprecedented times when markets are soaring and talent is scarce.
Step 1: Realize your surroundings
- Limited talent: In the 20 years I have been involved in staffing and recruiting, there has never been a time when talented professionals were more difficult to find than today. While most of us have absorbed the harsh reality of the current market conditions, there are still a few outliers who believe that a bad pandemic must mean a bad market and that people are easier to find than they are. It’s time to realize that some unparalleled measures will be necessary to acquire talent at a rate that doesn’t sacrifice opportunity.
- Impacted company culture: The last 18 months have inevitably altered the look and feel of workplace culture, if not completely turned it on its head. I want to tell you it’s OK. None of us has been here before and it’s important that your staff knows you are working proactively to navigate these waters – no matter how foreign they may seem.
- Evaluating workforce acquisition and retention strategies: For now, it’s simply critical to come to the table and realize that the attributes that drew people to join and stay at your company may not be perceived the same way as they were two years ago.
Step 2: Some winning strategies
- Hot markets mean more spending: There is plenty of exception to this rule but, for the most part, the salary you paid for job X, Y or Z will cost you more today than it did two years ago. The most successful organizations are looking at their payroll with the proactive eye for retention instead of the eye for the minimum it might take to acquire talent. If you are paying someone the same today as you did two years ago, it’s certainly advisable to look at that position and ensure you are being as competitive as possible. Turnover almost always costs more than retention.
- Remote workforce: Your best competitors are doing all they can to allow as much work-from-home as possible. I completely agree with those who suggest the importance of in-person interaction, which is why it’s great if you can make working in the office optional for those who want it. But at the end of the day, you don’t want to lose your best people to another organization that is more willing to be creative.
- Remove mountains, lakes and hiking trails from your benefits list: This is coming from a serious lover of the outdoors, but please – no more assumptions that close proximity to hiking, fishing and skiing equates to justifying a substantial pay cut. In today’s market, your best employees can work for a city-based organization, be highly compensated, and work from home in the mountains or on the lake.
- Re-addressing benefits and attractors: It is critical to look at every aspect of the employee experience and come to an honest conclusion of how competitive you really are. There is always room to improve, and the most successful organizations are fighting for every inch of competitiveness. How flexible is your paid time off program? Have you considered unlimited PTO? Does your benefits program address the psychological health of your employees as well as it could? What is your company’s messaging and what do you stand for? These are all important questions to answer in order to attract and retain the market’s best talent.
Whether you seek talented employees, greater market share, and/or personal fulfillment, I wish you all the best.
Jason Alexander is a managing partner of Bedford-based BANKW, parent company of the staffing and recruiting firms KBW, Alexander Technology Group, The Nagler Group, Sales Search Partners and KNF&T Staffing Resources.