Business leaders have been talking about "the future work" for years now as though it sits on some distant horizon. Many believe, this future will arrive and workplace norms and best practices will suddenly be radically different. Companies will have greater flexibility with global workforces, people-centric policies and technology that enables every style of work. Sound familiar? The future of work evolved as a result of the last few years and is now the latest iteration of what is needed for work within a modern company.
To hold onto the top talent, companies are running out of time to understand and embrace this new world of work. Leaders still clinging to yesterday’s methods for hiring, engaging and keeping employees—and believing this is a temporary period of volatility that will pass—are in for a rude awakening. Failing to make fundamental changes, and implement them rapidly, will result in the loss of talent.
While we have been trying to pin down the “new normal,” adaptation is a far greater leadership tactic than predicting an unknown future. Companies losing valuable employees at a far faster rate must adapt processes and policies around their most valuable resource—their people. And time is running out. Leaders have until the end of this year to reimagine their workplace or risk falling behind:
Adopt people-centric values
The key to attracting and retaining employees is adopting people-centric company policies—a departure from the one-size-fits-all management style of the past.
I would argue a people-centric approach is a values-driven approach to leadership as well. And as we have seen for years now, people want to work for a company with established values and standards that align with their own. But real adoption of these people-centric values is to recognize an employee will have circumstances outside of work that impact their professional and personal lives. And to act upon them not just when it’s convenient for an organization to speak to those values, but also in times of turmoil, such as during COVID or other crises that may occur.
Earlier this year, we prioritized funding and facilitating evacuations from Ukraine and nearby areas to protect Safeguard Global team members and their families. It was important for us to be able to engage with and support them how we could—the result is our employees know our commitment to them is real, that we lead with our values, and they should feel confident and proud to work with us.
Showing employees you understand how larger issues affect work is the way to foster respectful and empathetic employee-leader relationships and demonstrate your commitment to employees’ overall wellbeing. Being a people-centric organization means going beyond supporting employees when they are working from 9 to 5, and putting their health, wellness and safety above all else.
Rethink your recruitment and hiring strategy
For most companies, work is no longer entirely office-based or entirely remote, it’s a blend of the two. While many businesses have been waiting for the return to “normal,” where everyone shows up at the office for the daily 9 to 5, that will likely never come.
As a result, businesses need to think beyond geography and embrace location-agnostic hiring. The talent your company is looking for is scattered around the world, but that doesn’t mean they are off-limits to you. There are various ways to recruit from the widest possible talent pool. Being location-agnostic means having the freedom to create teams that offer the best experience, bring innovative ideas, and are committed to your company’s goals.
With a global talent pool, your top candidates may not be local to a physical office. But there’s solutions to make it work: set up an in-country entity or work with an employer of record to ensure compliant hiring. If the candidate doesn’t want to be hired as a full-time employee, get creative about their classification and look into hiring them as a contractor or part-time employee. If the candidate wants to be paid in a different currency than you normally pay, work with a global payroll provider to facilitate that.
There are great candidates in the global talent pool; collaborate with your talent acquisition team to find them and tailor your employment offer to fit what the best candidates are looking for. We approached recruiting and hiring our software engineering team earlier this year this way – and the result is a great, diverse, high-performing team. (We even did an internal case study called “How a flexible, people-centric approach gives Safeguard Global a hiring advantage.”)
Aim for real engagement
The new way of work is enabled by technology for collaboration, communication, productivity and project management. Many companies have already made investments in technologies like ClickUp, Asana, Trello and Zoom. But strong collaboration is the result of the engagement and connection people have with each other.
Productivity software company InVision, for example, dedicated a Slack channel to encourage employees to house-swap. Others create dedicated online spaces for virtual hangouts, host game nights over videoconference or offer online classes.
Technology makes it possible to bring a global team closer together, but human creativity is what will make it great. Business leaders need to be ready to acquire new technologies as needed, while recognizing they need to facilitate their teams’ use of technology to build communities within which they want to engage. The needs of workers will change over time, and so must a company’s tools and techniques for keeping people engaged.
There will always be a “future of work” and the future will always bring change. For now, the work experience people will demand will be flexible, remote and global. People’s expectations have already permanently changed. It’s the last chance for leaders to get creative and adaptable enough to meet their needs, or they will find the brightest and the best prefer to work elsewhere.
This article was originally published in Forbes earlier this fall.
About the AuthorMore Content by Bjorn Reynolds