HAS THE PANDEMIC CHANGED THE WAY YOU RECRUIT AND RETAIN YOUR TOP BUSINESS TALENT?
By Rhys Madoc, CEO, UHY International
If it has not done so yet, it probably should. Companies are facing unprecedented challenges with their workforce management. From recruitment to development to retention, the world of work is changing fast. Income pressures, working from home and personal wellbeing have been put under the spotlight. Employers and their clients alike will need to adapt and engage with the risks and opportunities that now present themselves.
According to one report, one in four workers are considering resigning in the wake of the pandemic. Research for Microsoft suggests that 40% of employees globally are thinking about handing in their notice. The fact is, Covid has fundamentally reworked the rules. Employee expectations have changed, and businesses that fail to grasp this fact risk losing good people, may struggle to recruit, and find themselves without the skills they need in a post-pandemic world. Conversely, employers who recognise change and embrace it may find themselves with a competitive advantage and an inflow of talent.
Here are just a few of the ways work has changed in the last 18 months, and what they mean for your talent management strategies:
Most obviously, many employees have got used to working from home. They may not want to do it all the time, and there are business benefits to having employees in the same physical space on at least one or two days a week. But flexible work is here to stay for many organisations, often in ‘hybrid’ form. If you do not offer it, and competitors do, attracting top talent and keeping yours, could be much more difficult.
According to the Microsoft study I referenced above, exhaustion and burn out are leading many employees to start contemplating a simpler life. High productivity during the pandemic has masked the fact that many employees feel overwhelmed, isolated and anxious. Businesses need to recognise this fact. Those that heighten their focus on employee wellbeing are likely to reap the rewards of greater loyalty and higher retention rates. A corporate culture that judges performance on the quality of work employees produce, rather than the time they spend at their desks, is likely to win out in the “new normal”.
It will not have gone unnoticed by your most valuable employees that a new acceptance of home working means the pool of businesses they could work for has grown exponentially. Quite simply, they no longer have to live within commuting distance of work. While this could threaten the stability of your team, it is also an opportunity. Some of our member firms are already finding that the ability to recruit new staff outside the office catchment has widened. Others like the idea of being able to open smaller regional offices to support hybrid working.
Naturally these are new considerations that may enhance your strategies – they will not replace the core motivations of having an employee-centric company culture. Flexible working is certainly part of that, but you might also consider other benefits that employees consider of real value, like continual learning opportunities and enhanced parental leave.
The pandemic has proved technology’s worth to the extent that, according to a recent McKinsey survey, Covid has accelerated many businesses’ digital transformation strategies by three or four years.
Businesses that do not keep up risk losing talent to those that do, because your employees want those digital tools. They want easier communication and collaboration, and they want automation that takes dull and repetitive “drudge” work away and leaves them free for more creative or challenging tasks.
As a professional services provider we know you rely on us having the right people in the right places to help you successfully meet business challenges. There is no doubt that for the accountancy profession, accelerating technology adoption provides challenges of its own.
Game-changing technology like artificial intelligence, deep data analytics, cloud accounting and, in the future, blockchain technologies, require a new injection of skills and expertise into professional businesses like ours, and talent strategies will need to reflect the changing shape of organisations. Some experts predict that effective professional practices will shift from a traditional hierarchy (pyramid) to a more diamond shape, with a ‘fat middle’ of specialists recruited and developed to manage a wide range of products, processes and technologies, enabling partners and experienced audit and accounting managers to focus on client relationships. This makes for a very different career path compared to traditional rungs of the ladder, and I am already seeing this in our own network as member firms realign their people strategies and business models to best meet the needs of clients.
Our collaborative culture
Over the 35 years that the UHY network has been operating, our member firms have created a global culture that promotes collaboration between colleagues, regardless of geography.
When clients need specialist expertise, or partners need fresh ideas to invigorate their business, our people can call on an international network of colleagues for assistance. Help is only ever a call or email away and this has been critical during the pandemic.
I truly believe our collaborative culture makes for a better client service; it also makes UHY member firms better places to work and develop a career.