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Purpose-led, mission-driven

Acquiring and retaining talent in the “Next Normal”

The future of work and talent may never be the same. Employee expectations, behaviors, work habits, and values have shifted dramatically in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Many of the changes have come about organically, as organizations and individuals responded in the moment and improvised to address emerging needs. Now it’s time for businesses to get strategic—to envision, design, and create their “next normal” for talent acquisition and retention.

Deloitte’s John Dilworth, Frans Dagelet and Satish Badgi, three HR and transformation specialists, share real-world insights that can help your organization thrive in the future of work.

Greater appeal than a job

The war for talent is never ending and the battle lines are constantly being drawn and redrawn. In boom times, talent is scarce, in bust times it’s plentiful, and COVID confused everything, requiring a high degree of agility and creativity with talent acquisition teams. Say John Dilworth, specialist leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP, “The need for talent and the role that employees are playing in the organization are shifting.”

But no matter where or how companies choose to look for talent, what will help attract the best–and cultivate loyalty–is being purpose-led, mission-driven. “People are not looking just for a job,” says Frans Dagelet, partner, Deloitte Consulting B.V. “They look for belonging and ways to do their work. That has to appeal to them in a structural way and embody that in the mission of the company.”

Reimagine work in a digital world

The 2020 pandemic pushed many companies into a fully virtual environment, essentially accelerating the changes that were already occurring in the digital world. With that comes the need to distribute and delegate decision making to ensure employees are “equipped with autonomy, trust and belonging to make sure that they feel empowered in the organization,” says Dagelet.

For Satish Badgi, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, that autonomy and trust means the leader and the individual must rise to the occasion. “As a leader I must give that flexibility to people. The individual also has to adapt and make sure that the trust is well placed.”

Blurring social lines

There was a time when social media sites had a distinct divide. Sites like Facebook and Instagram were for the personal aspects of people’s lives, and sites like LinkedIn, the professional. Rare was the occasion the two platforms collided. However, the lines between sites have blurred, with professional connections becoming part of personal networks and vice versa–we are looking for connections everywhere in our lives. While there are inherent downsides in showing your personal side to your professional world, as Dilworth sees it, the rewards outweigh the risks–as long as there is authenticity. “The more you can bring your authentic self to your work, the stronger that relationship's going to be.”

Though at first it is easy to dismiss, the reality is the virtual-first work world has actually helped foster that authenticity. Virtual meetings have allowed us into each other’s homes in unprecedented ways, notes Badgi. “We are more connected than ever in a different way and I think that’s a positive.”

Retention begins at onboarding

To treat onboarding as a list of check boxes is to squander a one-time opportunity. The first steps on the retention journey begin at onboarding, and companies would do well to consider onboarding as a perfectly balanced, four-legged stool across data flow compliance, paperwork, access provisioning, and culture.

Focus too little on culture and the end result is a shorter leg with what Dilworth calls a ‘wobbly onboarding.’ More to the point, it’s a missed opportunity to build a relationship with an employee. He offers that employees who leave an organization in the first year made the decision to do so in the first 60 days. A good onboarding experience can counteract that. “When you build, nurture, and develop that culture and the relationship, you develop more productive employees.”

Building on Dilworth’s point about the importance of those early days, Dagelet offers that companies should make an effort to have professional people connecting on a personal level. Create buddy systems; set up coffee connections; in post-COVID times, have events that allow people to connect as people. “We don’t choose ‘professionals’ to join our team, we choose people. Make sure they connect on a different level because good teams have great performance.”

War for existing talent: Upskilling

The common thinking is skills are valid for one to two years before employees and employees need to think about updating them, not just to keep up with technology, but to stay relevant. Dagelet cites a Deloitte and MIT survey that found 90% of companies believe in yearly upskilling. “Coming back to the war for talent, it's not just new talent. It is existing talent that we still have to develop that we still have to engage that we still have to make sure that people are on the ball and can deliver the value that they can bring.”

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