How to recruit and retain talent in a post Covid world

Categories: Salford Business School

The covid pandemic has changed the world of work, possibly forever. The number of job vacancies across all sectors was a record high of 1,102,000 by the end of 2021 with an increase of 318,000 from its pre-pandemic March 2020 levels, posing challenges for many businesses.

Dr Jonathan Lord, HR expert from the University of Salford Business School, examines how recruitment has changed in a post pandemic world. These comments are taken from the latest edition of the HR Unpacked podcast, a collaboration between the University of Salford and HR and recruitment experts Peninsula.

Dr Lord said: The UK labour market in particularly has suffered an acute talent shortage with the candidate experience now radically different resulting in many to reassess their priorities and expectations. Employers therefore need to be looking to attract and retain top talent through ensuring what they are offering is now in line with people’s needs as the ‘hippy office culture’ of free coffee, bean bags and pool tables will no longer cut it.”

What is the Future of Work Trends Post-COVID-19?

Dr Lord continued: “The McKinsey Company conducted research where they quantified more than 800 occupations by grouping them into ten work arena’s according to their proximity to co-workers and customers, the number of interpersonal interactions involved, and their on-site and indoor nature. This research, on the future of work after COVID-19, found that jobs in work arenas with higher levels of physical proximity are likely to see greater transformation after the pandemic, triggering knock-on effects in other work arenas as business models shift in response.

“Also according to Gartner’s (2021) Future of Work Trends report they believe that there will be not only an increase in remote working but an expansion in the use of contingent workers as well as an expanded role for employers as a social safety net so that they push the boundaries in promoting physical health and improving the emotional well-being of employees. 

“Therefore finding the right talent will be important but also keeping talent will just be as important with the 2021 Global Workforce Agility Report confirming that 62% of organisations have been battling with the issue of talent retention. This leaves organisations vulnerable to increased staff turnover as talent is drawn to organisations with a more tailored approach to working.”

What is the employer response?

To derive the greatest value from the workforce and create true resilience then an organisation must fashion an environment that provides the opportunity as well as enable talent to flourish.

From a strategy perspective employers can:

  1. Focus on current employees to enhance their skills or retrain them into positions which are hard to fill
  2. Build a pipeline, and build connections so that the skills gap do not develop into skills craters
  3. Enhance the candidate experience through selling the job rather than expecting candidates to be grateful for the opportunity of applying for the job
  4. Build the organisational brand so that candidates are attracted to the organisation not just the salary
  5. Recognise the value of remote work and implement a culture that recognises the effectiveness of this form of working

Having a strategy is not enough however, employers must also build on this and identify practical steps they can take to achieve the strategy such as:

  • Understanding as well as appreciating what candidates want and tailor the process
  • Devise empathy training for all staff members
  • Embrace career changers
  • Offer hybrid working and more flexibility that meets the operational needs of the organisation as well as the demands of the staff member
  • Understand that company culture still matters
  • Do not be scared / wary of automation

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