As we continue to wage a war on the virus, another war is creeping upon us. The war for talent. Best talents remain elusive irrespective of the market dynamic. After the great round of layoffs led by the pandemic, organizations are scuffling to win the war for talent. Salaries, benefits, flexibility, and perks don’t hold water anymore to attract young workers today. Given the extraordinary pace of change, the hastening shelf life of skills, and changing business priorities, managing talent has become a critical issue for leadership. Given that pre-pandemic ways of working aren’t something workers are ready to go back to, how can fix the new talent management equation to win this war?
In an exclusive interaction with us, Neha Mathur, SVP – Human Resources, Urban Company, sheds light on the critical imperatives for employers seeking to attract, retain and engage top talent and strategies that organizations can bank upon to win the war for talent.
Workers are quitting or switching jobs in droves which some economists have dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’. In such a scenario, what are the critical imperatives for employers seeking to attract, retain and engage top talent?
Identifying, attracting and retaining talent has been a priority for leadership for quite some time; it is not something that has been exacerbated just by the pandemic alone. Because talent and culture are the key differentiators for any organization. The pandemic has brought into focus the needs of groups such as caregivers, people with kids, and women-who have been affected far more significantly by the pandemic.
The deeper change that has happened is it has given us time to reflect on our real priorities-from a 24/7 lifestyle to what really matters, the quality of life we want, the impact we want to make with our work, and then how do we go on to do that work.
These are the questions talent today is asking themselves and are looking to their organizations to help them with. So organizations need to structure those answers for their employees. Organizations are beginning to gradually make this transition, allowing their people to work at their own rhythms and giving them the flexibility of choice, and bringing back learning, collaboration, socialization, and feeling connected back into the work environment. Lastly having honest candid conversation and customized, individualized employee experience is going to be very important to answer those questions for talent.
What as per are those broken links in the current work structure that need to be fixed by organizations in order to create sustainable work cultures?
The broken links would be different for different organizations depending what stage they are at. But some areas that need to be fixed are communication and clarity of communication especially in the hybrid world; transparency- especially with the workforce that we have today, we need to create that space where people can voice what they have to say; and thirdly, to be very deeply rooted in your value system.
One anchor to build sustainable work cultures is your value system. In the last few months, we have done very structured communication with our employees on our seven values. Also, organizations need to ensure team collaboration and a sense of belonging as more work goes hybrid.
What should be strategies to elevate employee value proposition to mirror what employees seek in the changing work environment?
It begins with acknowledging the person who joins with your organization, forging a deeper connection, and understanding their fears and aspirations.
So having a deeper connection is very important to elevate EVP because people are choosing organizations that show genuine care for them.
Secondly, EVP is also about flexibility and customization; it is not a broad brush stroke as people are experiencing the pandemic very differently. So it’s important to recognize those differences and create solutions for each one of them.
The third factor is around an exponential growth trajectory that an organization can offer you.
Organizations need to remember it’s a whole person that walks into an organization. So focusing on the holistic well-being of your people is extremely important. Also, talent today is very purpose led and that’s what organizations need to ensure they see the impact being created.
What do you think would be the two three big differentiators for companies to win the talent war?
Ultimately, it’s your talent and culture that are big differentiators to win the war for talent. A caring, empathetic organization goes a long way in differentiating an organization. Also, raising the bar of talent that you get in the organization encourages existing talent also to raise their level of impact in the organization, thereby enhancing the EVP of the organization as a whole and enabling it to win the talent war.
What is your take on how organizations should approach rethinking location strategy and remodeling roles for flexibility to retain top talent?
In the last few years, the conversation around location strategy has changed from being a cost led conversation to a talent led conversation.
To me it’s about three things. Firstly, it is about moving away from headquarters-centric approach to a talent hub approach, where you are closer to talent. The second is around having more intelligence around talent and location strategy, which means that not only look at the skills you need today but plan out for the kind of skills you will need two-three years down the line and map your location strategy accordingly. Thirdly, widen your ability to reach out to a very wide of talent-something which the pandemic has enabled. If we are able to translate the learnings from working in a fully remote environment to a hybrid environment, then we will continue to enjoy this wider pool of talent.
Also, when it comes to roles, organizations need to make sure they are impactful and are aligned with strategic priorities. They should be about giving people end to end ownership and building multiple skills that are future ready. One more thing that is very important for us is empowering our front end people, by not having a very centralized structure, and giving them autonomy and environment.