Executive Search and Recruiting

By Ringside Talent Partners

June 2, 2021

Smart, forward-thinking companies are in a stealth war for talent in this new post-pandemic return-to-work environment. The way in which they manage the great reset will either make them leaders in their space or fall by the wayside.

There is an undercurrent to the hybrid and remote-work trends that CEOs and executives are not talking about. Many don’t have their eyes on the ball. They obsess over how many people may work at home. They quibble over the amount of time a person should be in the office—debating whether it’s two, three days or more. Most CEOs are playing the wrong game. Progressive companies are using the reopening to brand themselves as the best place for people.

In light of the sudden need for talent, workers and job seekers will have the upper hand. You will be able to find more jobs compared to six months or a year ago. Instead of ghosting candidates, they’ll have to cater to them. Hiring managers will need to roll out the red carpet and concede to the demands of those on the job hunt. If companies don’t appease the job applicants, they’ll go elsewhere, as there will be more opportunities available.

We are entering a new and exciting paradigm. The trends show that both the way we work and where we work will radically change within the next six months. These developments could be a boon for workers, as they may no longer have to endure long, tedious commutes and will be able to spend more quality time with their families.

Companies benefit from a significant reduction in real estate costs. Having happier and more empowered workers could lead to enhanced productivity, which will improve the bottom line for their corporations.

Google is a great example of getting it. The company has been  building and repurposing office spaces to make them highly attractive, particularly to the coveted Gen-Z and younger Millennial workers. The offices were built to make them as, or more attractive, than living in a small apartment or being home with their parents.

The company created a post-pandemic workplace that will attract and keep employees at the office. “Instead of rows of desks next to cookie-cutter meeting rooms, Google is designing ‘Team Pods.’ Each pod is a blank canvas: chairs, desks, whiteboards and storage units on casters can be wheeled into various arrangements, and in some cases rearranged in a matter of hours,” wrote the New York Times.

The company created a new type of meeting room called Campfire. Instead of sitting at an austere mahogany-wood conference table in a cold room, Googlers would sit in a circle with huge screens for video conferences to accommodate remote workers and those at different locations. Google is also building cool outdoor hangouts called “Camp Charleston” with “teepees” for holding meetings.

Its not just tech companies. The over 100-year-old Ford Motor Company announced a new progressive, flexible, hybrid work model for its employees. The iconic automobile company plans to radically redesign the workplace. Ford informed about 30,000 white-collar office workers that they can continue to work from home “indefinitely” and have “flexible hours approved by their managers.”  It’s anticipated that people will come into the office primarily for meetings and group projects.

Kiersten Robinson, Ford chief people and employee experiences officer, said once they return, the amount of time working remotely will be determined by the responsibilities of the job and input from their supervisors. “The nature of the work we do really is going to be a guiding element. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last 12 months, it is that a lot of our assumptions around work and what employees need has shifted.” Robinson is not calling this the “future of work,” as it’s an “evolution,” as the carmaker recognizes that there will likely be changes and modifications as time goes on.

Ford will redesign its corporate office interiors. The workspaces will be retrofitted to be versatile and adaptable to future needs for change. This includes walls, furniture, fixtures, conference rooms and collaborative spaces. Attention will be paid to enabling video calls and deploying technology to enhance virtual connectivity among co-workers and managers. Ford feels that this empowerment will lead to better job satisfaction, happier workers and offer a nicer work-life balance.

Crosstown rival, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, simply said, “Work appropriately.” Instead of giving top-down orders, according to Barra, “It is up to leaders to focus on the work, not the where, and we will provide the tools and resources needed to make the right decisions to support our teams.” The decision was based, in part, by the feedback from workers in response to several surveys asking how and where people would like to work.

Barra said about her perspective of the post-pandemic workplace, “The future of work is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and our values and behaviors will guide us in this culture change.” The chief executive added, “Work appropriately means that where the work permits, employees will have the flexibility to work where they can have the greatest impact on achieving our goals.”

Two top investment banks, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan, are adamant about workers returning to the office. The respective CEOs contend that the business of the sales and trading of securities, investment banking and underwriting IPOs require people to closely connect and communicate with each other. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. It used to be that the brightest young university graduates from top schools would smoothly segue into investment banking on Wall Street. With the emergence of exciting FinTech companies and alternatives, such as working in Silicon Valley, Wall Street’s competition may steal away talent who want a more flexible and less buttoned-up work environment.

Leaders will construct culture through people, no matter where they sit. Spotify, the fast-growing audio streaming and media services provider, announced on its corporate blog, “Today, Spotify is proud to introduce Work From Anywhere, a new way of collaborating that allows Spotifiers to work from wherever they do their best thinking and creating.” The company emphasized the importance of choice, writing, “We are giving employees the opportunity to elect a Work Mode—whether they’d prefer to work mostly at home or in the office—as well as their geographic location.”

Spotify said in the blog post, “Effectiveness can’t be measured by the number of hours people spend in an office. Instead, giving people the freedom to choose where they work will boost effectiveness. Giving our people more flexibility will support a better work-life balance and also help tap into new talent pools while keeping our existing band members.”

Salesforce, a leading cloud-based and software-as-a-service company, said the “9-to-5 workday is dead.” Based upon employee feedback, Salesforce said it will offer employees “flexibility in how, when and where they work.

The platform of freewheeling network of communities, Reddit, announced a plan to empower its employees by offering them the “flexibility to explore where they work: in the office, remotely or a combination of the two.” Acknowledging that a percentage of people may elect to relocate, the company said it “will be supportive of the move—and won’t adjust their compensation down.”

Reddit said, “We’ve reimagined our approach to compensation in the U.S.” To show support for its employees, the company is “eliminating geographic compensation zones in the U.S.” Contrary to what other companies are doing, this policy suggests that “compensation will be tied to pay ranges of high-cost areas, such as [San Francisco] and [New York], regardless of where employees live.”

Smart, innovative forward-thinking executives will notice the tide change and immediately take action. They’ll implement plans to attract and retain talent. The companies that prioritize their employees and do everything in their power to make them happy and motivated will be the winners in this new upcoming era.

The large financial services company, Prudential, conducted a study that found “one in three American workers would not want to work for an employer that required them to be onsite full time.” The survey also indicated, “A quarter of workers plan on looking for a new job when the threat of the pandemic decreases, signaling a looming ‘war for talent.’” Prudential vice chair Rob Falzon admitted, “If there’s one thing that keeps me up at night, it’s the talent flight risk.”

We’ve already seen big investment banks offer Peloton Bikes, mental health days, additional vacation days, raises and bonuses to keep their young bankers motivated and happy. Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser informed her 210,000 employees that she is banning internal video calls on Fridays, as part of a program to help her staff have a healthier work-life balance. Fraser also called for a new company-wide holiday, called “Citi Reset Day”—a day for decompressing, as the year-long pandemic has taken a toll on the psyche of workers.

Money and pressure alone won’t work well. Companies will need to compete for talent by being empathetic to their wants and needs. They should hire a  head of talent retention to focus on keeping employees motivated, happy and engaged. Reskilling and continual training to meet the new demands of the future is critical to maintaining a competitive workforce.

Companies, in this tight job market, should tap into overlooked pools of talent. This could include homemakers, returnees to the job market, Baby Boomers who’ve retired, part-time, contract, and gig workers and people from all over the country.

More than 800,000 women left the workforce between August and September 2020, according to the New York Times. Management consulting firm McKinsey reported that the pandemic has set women back half a decade and about two million women are considering leaving the workforce. Strategic-thinking companies will consider what they can do for people with caregiving responsibilities. If they offer solutions to this pernicious issue, they’ll benefit from unlocking a wealth of talent, and, in the process, help alleviate the challenges working mothers face too.


Source:  Jack Kelly via Forbes