The new talent crisis - and how to get out of it

Expert panel brought together by Management Today and People Management, in partnership with Employment Hero, unpacks “the worst recruitment and retention crisis in a decade” and calls for reinvention

Last Updated: 17 Aug 2021

Employers are facing a war for talent, and it’s up to them to seize the moment to drive meaningful change and a “recruitment and retention reinvention” in their organisations.

That was the stark but galvanising message from thought-leaders in “The new talent crisis – and how to get out of it” webinar.

Rania Robinson, CEO and partner at creative agency Quiet Storm, told the panel that the battle for skills predated the pandemic, but had been greatly exacerbated by it, and that people’s priorities were shifting.

This is a very different landscape now than it was many years ago,” she said. “You've got a much bigger competitive set and then that's been compounded and accelerated by the pandemic, where people have started to really rethink what they want out of life.” 

Janine Chamberlin, UK country manager and head of enterprise sales at LinkedIn, agreed. “A lot of this has already started pre-pandemic,” she added, “especially if you're looking for specific skills [such as] technical skills and development skills. Those have been hard to hire for and continue to be hard to hire. But now that a lot of organisations are shifting to digital, because that's also what the pandemic has accelerated for a lot of organisations, it's like a perfect storm. So we're all looking for the same skills.”

Octopus Energy CEO and founder Greg Jackson said this now means that attracting and retaining talent now has to be about doing things differently and listening to what employees say they want, thereby rethinking the employee value proposition and positioning organisations as employers of choice.

“Looking for something different”

Jackson invited attendees to consider: Is it a recruitment and retention crisis or a recruitment and retention reinvention?

“What really strikes me,” he said, “is that, if people are looking for something different at the moment, then that's the opportunity for employers to move quickly to offer something different, to make the most of the change. And so perhaps it's one of those classic cases where, in order to resolve any issues, we need to not be doing the same things we used to do or we’ll just have more of the same problems. It’s about finding ways to actually reinvent what we offer recruits. It’s an opportunity to build an entirely new relationship and better businesses.” 

Time to reinvent

Ensuring talent strategy aligns with the post-pandemic working world therefore means taking flexible, hybrid working seriously, added Alex Hattingh, chief people officer at Employment Hero.

It is the opportunity to reinvent, and that's all about remote work and flexible options,” she said. “Everyone has had the opportunity, or the chance, during this pandemic, to really reflect on what they want out of their career and their work. And you can definitely see that in interviews, the candidates coming through and [the importance placed on] employer value propositions. So it's so important to focus on that.”

Hattingh added that employers “need to look at the positives” and ask: How do we reinvent our EVP and show the best of who we are as companies to work for? 

“I'd also come back to what the pandemic has really taught us about the mental, physical and financial wellbeing of our employees,” she said, adding that employers need to make provision of support in these areas a priority.

Part of that, Jackson suggests, is ensuring the workday is as meaningful and fulfilling at every level. By honing in on something more concrete than values - the lived experience of work - employers may be able to crack the talent crisis.

What’s the daily reality of work?

He asks: “It's great that you find purpose in the company, but what is the daily process of work like? How enjoyable is your work?

“Increasingly, if what we're trying to do is see employment as an exchange, where we'll give you enough money to put up with a crappy job, that ain't gonna stand. People discovered in the pandemic that that trade-off is not the one they want. So, actually, what we have to do is create jobs where the process of work is enjoyable.”

The full panel discussion, touching on topics from diversity and inclusion to the importance of employer branding, can be viewed on-demand here.

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