31 Oct The Great Reconsideration: Three Keys to Win Talent Now
Last week I was scheduled to have dinner with a friend at my favorite restaurant in Palm Desert, CA but we arrived to find a sign which said, “Sorry we are closed due to lack of staffing.”
Organizations both large and small are struggling more than ever to find and keep talent, scrambling to operate, never mind thinking about engaging their fullest energy. Some people have described the past two years as The Great Resignation because of the number of people who have left the labor pool, but I prefer to call it The Great Reconsideration. People of all ages are reconsidering their relationship to work and life.
I believe there are three major ways people are reconsidering their relationship to work: choice, authenticity and meaning.
The first shift is a desire for choice. Having been given a taste of flexibility in the form of working from home, only one in ten people said they want to go back to how things were before COVID. Seventy three percent of workers want remote environments to stay and about fifty percent say if forced to go back to the office full time they will find another job. Recruiting companies now say that offering hybrid or virtual work is the number one thing an employer can do to win talent and those who have a flex arrangement likely almost never leave. And choice isn’t just about being virtual, it is about giving people ways for work to integrate with the rest of life.
The second shift is a desire for authenticity. There is nothing like a world-wide pandemic to get people thinking that life is too short and they need to live their values. A recent Gartner study showed that about sixty-nine percent of the workforce said it was important to be their “most authentic self at work” but less than half of the respondents said they could do that. Leading with empathy and inclusion is critical today. Leaders must learn how to get to know team members as unique individuals so they can tailor leading to that person’s needs. I call this “leading people as an n of one.” In other words, taking the time to truly know what matters to this person and helping them feel truly included. One of my most popular programs now is Leading for Empathy and Inclusion. If empathy and inclusion were important before the pandemic, the Great Reconsideration makes it even more vital.
The third shift is a desire for meaning. As many of you know, I have been writing about purpose at work for almost forty years. Every time there is an economic event such as the Global Financial Crisis (2008-2009) and then the pandemic, people ask me if purpose still matters. Every time I have said that each crisis only deepens people’s desire to have purpose and meaning at work. I am seeing workers even more focused on doing work that has meaning for them where they get to contribute to something they care about. Just the other day, a client told me about a high-level person who left her corporate job to work at a flower shop. The days of most people seeing a “job” as just something you do for money is a dying paradigm. Of course, people still need money but companies that harness purpose will win the talent war. Besides, the one-third of the workforce that is most focused on purpose perform better on almost every metric we care about as leaders. So, if we aren’t appealing to that one-third, we are losing out big time.
Three Questions to Ask Yourself to Win Talent
As you consider your organization’s capacity to offer choice, authenticity and meaning, here are three questions to ask yourself:
Am I/Are we offering maximum flexibility to team members? Are we pushing our norms and being innovative about choice?
Have I/Have we created an inclusive environment where people feel known and valued for who they are?
Do I/Do we focus on purpose from the moment of recruiting through to everyone’s daily experience at work?