This past year has seen unprecedented unemployment and career-altering experiences in the workforce. As both companies and individuals begin to bounce back, there is still a sense of uncertainty that can compromise the employer/employee relationship.
How can employers attract and retain key talent in the current climate? According to Kristy Willis, Chief Sales Officer of PeopleReady, It has to do first and foremost with relationships built on transparency and communication.
“We’ve all been through a lot this past year. The work experience has changed considerably for many (possibly, for the better).”
Creating a workplace culture where employees feel safe, appreciated, and engaged is not only possible but essential as we move forward and alter the way we think about the work/life balance.
“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and again and bring their friend.” — Walt Disney
1 – Provide a safe work environment.
Employees want to know their employers genuinely care about keeping them safe and their overall wellbeing.
Whether they are returning to the office or are new hires, make them feel confident that health and safety precautions have been put in place (i.e., extra sanitation measures, health webinars, revised sick time policies). The office landscape will undoubtedly need a makeover to accommodate new health regulations and for an added sense of security.
Companies can take action to post new health/sanitation requirements that are now standard policies. Sick time should be reviewed as well, encouraging employees now more than ever to work from home if they’re under the weather. Further, consider hybrid models to have fewer employees in the office at once, minimizing health concerns.
2 – Show employees they are appreciated.
It is human nature for people to want to feel appreciated. The workplace is no exception. This is not just during uncertain times but as part of a company’s culture. For example, establishing things such as “no meeting Mondays” or an extra day off for birthdays, work anniversaries, or as a mental health day adds to employee satisfaction.
In addition to incentives, give your staff the tools they need to work productively, either in the office or at home. Staying current on technology and necessary equipment needs goes far in allowing for an efficient work environment and making employees feel they can reach their goals. That could mean implementing an easy CRM (customer relationship management) for sales staff, offering opportunities for continuous learning and professional development (i.e. LinkedIn Learning), and reviewing equipment needs on a regular basis.
According to a 2019 Harris Poll, only 32% of employees are satisfied with the opportunities for career advancement, and just 37% are satisfied with the training and learning opportunities at their current company. If offered, 73% of employees whose companies do not currently offer education opportunities or workshops outside of work hours say they would be likely to participate if they were available.
3 – Engage employees in decision-making.
People want to be included in decisions, whether that be serving on advisory committees, inclusion exercises through virtual whiteboard sessions, or on-the-ground one-to-one time.
Having accessibility to leadership is also important. Employees can thrive when they are a part of a company where they can innovate and drive change. Having this quality is crucial to both attracting talent and keeping them.
Employees need to be listened to and have multiple ways for teams to provide feedback. You have to value the input truly and make it actionable. For salespeople, in particular, engagement virtually has shown to be critical for them to feel engaged, empowered, and motivated to make the best impression with customers.
It is no surprise that happy employees typically stay with a company longer. They also can help in attracting top talent by showing the best potential hires that they also could be happy at your business. This will motivate staff and you will have a great resource pool for adding new talent.
4 – Cultivate team spirit
Potential employees are attracted to good company culture. Aside from pay and benefits, this has been found to be the top quality people look for in a company, especially with the millennial and Gen Z crowd.
Keep camaraderie going amongst various teams even if it’s small, celebratory things that make a difference (i.e. birthday celebrations, employee appreciation, game days).
Team building continues to be important as a bonding exercise and can take the form of in-person or virtual activities. Get creative, competitive, and enjoy getting to know each other in a relaxed setting. You’ll be surprised what you can learn about others that can help in the way you work together.
For potential recruits, companies can now connect with candidates in ways that weren’t previously possible with traditional recruiting methods. Build and promote your organization via social channels to encourage future applicants, showing them that your group is a fun place where they would want to work and why they would enjoy doing so. Post company and industry news that would differentiate your company’s best characteristics to draw talent.
5 – Allow for flexibility and grace
We are all learning in a new world. We don’t know what everyone is going through. Allowing flexibility in work and schedule or amnesty for mistakes goes a long way.
Flexibility is one of the top qualities job seekers are looking for in a company these days. Focus on ensuring flexibility as a way to attract top talent. Remember that the work/life balance is important for keeping employees happy, engaged, and committed to your organization. Retention levels will be high and stress levels manageable if there is a solid commitment to building a culture with professional and personal symmetry. This is crucial for working parents.
Set clear and well-defined goals for accountability. Have management establish consistent communication both with teams and one-on-one. Implement realistic measurements and touchpoints that are reviewed regularly so everyone is on the same page.
Benefits and convenience may be more important than compensation in many cases. Such things as medical benefits, commute time considerations, job location, extra perks, half-day Fridays, onsite fitness centers, and award trips are also important to job seekers.
The Bottom Line
We are all coming out of a stressful year and adapting to changes and challenges. Let’s do so with a new outlook that puts the focus on valuing and retaining employees while creating a workforce culture that we can all be proud of.
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” —Stephen Hawking
By Kristy Willis, Chief Sales Officer of PeopleReady. She is a thought leader and entrepreneurial coach with more than 26 years in colleague development and client collaboration. To learn more, visit https://www.peopleready.com/.