How companies can retain and attract the right talent in 2023
The current economic climate looks set to prevail well into 2023 so, with high inflation, a squeeze on talent and market volatility, challenging times lie ahead. I can see companies benefiting from investing within, both in terms of nurturing home-grown talent and in fixing any culture and connectivity glitches many have experienced and accepted since the pandemic. Meanwhile, attracting the best talent is likely to hinge on nailing the all-important employee value proposition, while continuing to focus on the traits of equity and transparency so important to the younger generation.
Building, not buying
One key principle for 2023 is going to be to build and not buy your talent. The current focus on buying in skills has caused problems in terms of salary inflation, particularly when there are skills shortages, and we’re starting to see an increased number of requests for support around career and pay progression.
I think companies are waking up to the fact that blanket increases are not the answer and instead need to refocus energy and resource on the development of skills, training and growth from within, which is obviously a more far-sighted strategy.
Instead of looking and reacting short-term, think about career progression and succession planning, particularly in a tight labour market. By nurturing and rewarding your own talent, not only do you save on the cost of recruitment, you also give employees a motivational boost and make yourself attractive to aspiring applicants looking in.
Key question: Are we set up to nurture our own talent in 2023?
Culture and ways of working
The CEO of Airbnb spoke recently about loneliness and the fact that it’s one of the biggest challenges of remote working. In 2023, still in the wake of the pandemic and the changes it’s brought, companies are going to need to rethink how they can connect their employees, and where and when they do it.
Historically the office has been the hub of a business community enabling staff to build social relationships. Especially among millennials, there is a real concern that remote working is killing that social element because it’s simply not possible to derive the same benefits sitting on Zoom or Teams. Without that connectivity it’s very hard for a company to build and embed a culture, so it will be interesting to see how companies continue to enable hybrid working (which is now so widespread) while also evolving their ways of working.
Of course, a lot will come down to each individual company’s culture. For some we may see a reinvestment in office space, but the most important thing will be having a clear sense of why you are bringing people together when you do. What are the benefits of the office now? One of them is certainly that connectivity and the heightened sense of feeling part of something, so maximising ‘team time’ will be a must.
Key question: How can we best use the concept of ‘office’ in 2023 to connect our employees?
Fairness and equity
Particularly among younger workers, the millennials and Gen-Z, there will still be a real push towards these ESG values of fairness, equity and transparency, to the point where they now expect them rather than just hope for them. More than ever, this younger generation wants their work to mean something, they want their role to have a purpose and their company to be doing the right thing, so an organisation’s ESG values grow wings.
Younger workers are also far more likely to be open and transparent about their pay, whereas older workers, particularly men over 40, will typically shy away from talking about this. If organisations want to be more equitable, they must consider and potentially communicate where they are on that transparency journey.
Key question: Can we demonstrate transparency and fairness in the way we operate?
Build your Brand and Employee Value Proposition
Across the age and gender spectrum, but particularly reaching out to the younger generation, companies need to be clear about who they are and what they stand for. Money is important but companies will need to stand out and sell themselves not only as a business but as a cause and a journey that people want to join and commit to. Your ‘Why’ has never been more important.
Try to be a company with a culture that jumps off the page, that talks about valuing its staff and celebrating success. Sell the journey you are on. If you do, you are more likely to attract applicants than a faceless organisation that might offer a little more in base pay but fails to set out a value proposition or tell a story. Ask what makes you unique, what you stand for and why people should come and work for you.
Key question: Are we telling our story so that we stand out?
To retain, and beat the burnout
While focusing on all these things above, also be mindful of one major issue at the heart of staff turnover since 2021: burnout. It is inevitable that a light will continue to shine on wellbeing and being well in 2023. We've had three tumultuous years and burnout has been at the root of much of the anxiety and depression which caused half of all work-related illnesses in 2021. With staff shortages and people being asked to fill in the gaps, this is likely to carry on for a couple of years and one way to retain and attract staff is by showing you support them, physically and professionally but also mentally.