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I got my first COVID vaccine shot over the weekend (don't worry I shared it on social media!) and while it was a brief event, it also carried significant weight. I'm sure many others have felt a similar turning point-esque feeling when getting their shot.
It's still surreal to think about where our lives were this time last year. The toilet paper epidemic was just coming to a close. Many of us were wondering if COVID would be over in May or in June.
Fast forward a year and so much has changed in our world. As the famous tech founder/VC, Balaji Srinivasan predicted, many of the trends that were already on the horizon were accelerated dramatically:
Now that we are at the early stages of coming out of our year of lockdowns, mask mandates and social distancing, it can be useful to take stock of what has changed and what that means for businesses.
There are a few trends that I've been seeing and hearing from my network that I believe will have major implications over the next few years:
1. An 'Attrition Explosion'
I was catching up with an HR leader last month. When I asked "What are the things keeping you up at night?", he gave an answer that surprised me:
He said "I think businesses are heading for an attrition explosion." His rationale was that retention was sky high in 2020 and he didn't think that was because businesses all of a sudden became great at keeping talent happy and engaged.
Instead, his thought was that the uncertainty of the pandemic led unhappy employees to 'wait it out' rather than risk going into the job market and not landing a job.
His prediction seemed prescient to me and it's only been further reinforced by multiple close friends accepting new jobs recently.
If you also believe attrition could be a new challenge facing businesses, then there are two things that you can do today to help set your business up for success.
A subset of your current workforce is already out the door. And another group you may not miss if they left.
However, there is a 3rd group that is valuable to the organization and is open to staying if things were to improve.
Develop a strategy that will help you engage with those employees, better understand their needs and be capable of following up on their requests.
If you can't hear from those employees directly, then it is fair to assume that some things they are interested in are: better compensation, a different manager relationship and clearer growth opportunities.
Prepare Your Hiring Engine
No matter how good you are at heading off regrettable turnover, there are still bound to be employees who depart in the upcoming months, so it's important that your business is prepared to backfill.
As you prepare your hiring engine, you'll want to think about both internal and external candidates.
For internal candidates, a review cycle can help consolidate manager feedback regarding which employees are ready for promotions. Having robust succession planning technology can be a great aid in this process too.
For external candidates, you'll want to start engaging with candidates in your CRM to remind them of your company and why the applied in the first place. You can begin to prepare job descriptions and even seek out some additional sourcing tools to help bring new candidates into your funnel.
2. The Global Workforce Is Here to Stay
One trend that was starting to show up pre-COVID was companies being more willing to hire great talent wherever they could find it.
With Zoom and Slack and other productivity tools, where someone physically works has become less relevant.
As companies hired internationally more, a new breed of employment solutions has developed in the past year making it easy and cost-effective to legally and compliantly hire and pay employees.
These solutions are going to have huge demand in the coming years as more businesses go global, and if you want to get ahead of the curve it’s worth learning about them.
3. Remote Engagement Is A Now Part of the Job Description
One of the big surprises of COVID was how productive workforces could be when forced to go fully remote.
There is still much we don't know about the effects of remote work: Is full-time remote work preferable to a hybrid model? What are the mental health impacts of fully-remote work? Are there attrition increases with remote workers?
As we start to better understand this new normal, one thing is clear: Some degree of remote work flexibility is preferred by most workers.
The flexibility to pick up the kids, go to the gym or run errands throughout the day gives employees greater control over their lives. And no one is complaining about the hours they've saved not commuting.
If we assume that the future workforce will have a remote element to it, then businesses have an opportunity to win employee's hearts and minds by executing on remote work at a high-level.
Businesses will need to develop strategies that will help employees stay engaged, informed and connected to their colleagues. Businesses will need to develop new management tactics that focus more on work output (productivity) than work input (hours at your desk). And businesses will need to provide new resources to employers to ensure they have the social interaction, stress management and peer support to keep them productive for the long haul.
No business or HR leader has the answer to all of these questions. The process of adjusting our business operations and employment strategies will be iterative. But the organizations who are looking to the future and jumping on these trends sooner, will be the ones that are attracting and retaining the best talent in the market.