The War for Talent In 2021 And Beyond

By Jason Sabet, Jonathan Elbaz - May 05, 2021

More than a year has passed since the onset of COVID-19. One clear effect of the pandemic has been the hit to the job market. Over the last 12 months, tens of millions of Americans lost their jobs, and a significant number of individuals remain unemployed—9.7 million as of April 2021. While a staggering number of people are still without work, unemployment has been decreasing steadily since its peak in April 2020, as organizations move to ramp up hiring. There are currently more than 13.9 million job postings in the U.S., up 28% from this time last year.

This influx of available job openings, coupled with the vast number of people seeking employment, gives organizations a unique opportunity to reevaluate how they hire talent. Having endured the hardships of a pandemic, this extensive talent pool will have different expectations of organizations compared to years past. Companies will be challenged to rethink their approach to talent management to ensure that top talent is attracted and retained. The war for talent has only just begun.

Ways to Win the War for Talent: How to Shift Your Talent Management Practices

One of the biggest lessons learned from the pandemic is that remote work is entirely possible. Companies are emerging with their sights set on growth or recovery, and many understand that remote work (or a hybrid approach) isn’t going anywhere. In fact, our research shows that employees prefer a combination of remote and on-site work going forward. This shift in work preferences presents organizations with the opportunity to alter their recruitment and talent management practices to meet the needs of their current and future workforce.

Attracting Top Talent

We’ll start by looking at ways in which companies can rethink their hiring strategies to attract top talent. While each organization’s hiring practices are unique, the methods below provide guidance on how to adapt to evolving employee expectations in today's job market.

Capitalize on Blurred Talent Boundaries          

With this realization that remote work is a viable option, employers can focus on recruiting across geographies. In other words, talent pipelines have widened. Rather than having to find a candidate within a 60-mile radius of the office, recruiters can find top talent across the globe. That means companies now have access to a greater variety of talent and skill sets than ever before.

It also means people are no longer limited in their career options by their commutes or communities, and they don’t have to move to a big city in order to land their ideal job. Remote job postings have increased consistently during the pandemic. Remember those 13.9 million open job postings mentioned earlier? More than one million of those jobs are remote-friendly, and while they account for only 7% of the total postings, these types of opportunities are up 174% from last year. This is likely to increase in the coming months as job hunters continue to seek flexibility from their current or prospective employers.

Build a Diverse Talent Pool

With the decentralization of many workplaces and this ability to find talent anywhere, companies can recruit and select from a pool of diverse applicants. Hiring individuals from a range of geographies, backgrounds, nationalities, races, and ethnicities, among other dimensions of diversity, has a variety of benefits for the organization. 

Successful organizations are those that value individual differences and use those differences to improve business performance while enabling individuals to thrive in their roles. Embracing multiple perspectives gives organizations a competitive advantage in the marketplace; it also has been shown to improve productivity and enhance creativity and innovation. 

In addition to attracting and retaining diverse talent, companies need to communicate their organization’s stance on key social issues. Candidates in today’s market are more likely to seek out companies that actively work to advance issues or causes that are important to them. Through talent diversification and the advancement of key social issues, organizations can develop a unique and compelling employee value proposition that attracts job seekers and stands out from the competition.

Improve Inefficiencies in the Hiring Process

Highly sought-after talent may be pursuing multiple opportunities as companies battle for the best and the brightest. Creating a more efficient hiring process can improve the likelihood that, when an offer is presented, your company is chosen over the competition. 

To improve your hiring process:

  • Ensure job descriptions are realistic and accurately reflect the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the job. 
  • Provide a clear overview of the organization and its values to candidates. 
  • Revisit the interview process to ensure it is streamlined, structured, and objective. 
  • Lastly, hiring managers should strive to maintain open lines of communication with candidates so prospects have all the necessary information needed to make an informed decision. 

Retaining Top Talent

Retaining top talent is just as important as hiring top talent. Let’s explore how organizations can keep turnover low and improve the employee experience to meet the needs of their workforce.  

Move Beyond Work “Perks”

While the overall unemployment rate remains above historical averages, many industries that require highly skilled employees continue to fight for talent. A sizable portion of these employees have been working remotely for more than a year and have proven to be both productive and effective outside their traditional workplace. As such, they’ll expect many of the same “perks” that were created out of necessity during the pandemic—among them the ability to work remotely on a fairly regular basis, along with the ability to work flexible hours to better support integration between their work and personal lives. 

Accelerate Digital Transformation 

As the ability to work remotely becomes commonplace in a competitive job market, employers will have to cultivate a sense of connectedness across their teams to keep their workforce motivated and engaged. Companies need to ensure employees have the technology and resources needed to remain productive at the time and place of their choosing. This shift will continue to support the acceleration of digital transformations that will see organizations become more adept at keeping in close contact with employees and customers alike in an increasingly flexible way. 

Manage With Empathy

Perhaps most importantly, organizations will need to develop and empower people managers who have the empathy, interpersonal skills, and communication savviness to help their team members maintain a strong level of attachment and alignment to their teams and organizations. Leaders who are able to demonstrate that they genuinely care about their employees and are able to meet their evolving needs will be better positioned to retain talent in a competitive market. 

Modernize Total Reward Packages

Part of the drive to retain talent will undoubtedly involve a second look at total reward packages. The pandemic brought mental health issues out of the shadows and drew attention to the need for organizations to more proactively address employee well-being. While well-being is touched in a myriad of ways, companies that are able to distinguish themselves by offering benefits that support mental health, remote work, and the ability to disconnect from the workplace will be in a better position to support and retain talent.

When the risks associated with the pandemic eventually dissipate, our workplace and way of life will return to normal, albeit a new normal. The ways in which organizations support, empower, and communicate with employees today will determine their standing as an employer of choice in the not-so-distant future. 

The Perceptyx survey platform and the support of our analytics experts give you the flexibility to develop a thoughtful and logical employee listening strategy. Discover how to improve the employee experience in your organization so you build a culture that attracts top talent and retains top performers. 

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