There is a new buzzword in the talent industry, namely, talent economy! People are the most prized assets of an organisation. Therefore, talent has always been considered valuable. So, why did the industry coin a new phrase that links economy and talent? Organisations have begun to recognise the economy of talent more as a result of a significant shift in attitude among quality talent! Since the time the pandemic struck, we have seen how the workforce has evolved. Organisations have had to accommodate the evolving workforce while keeping growth in mind. The flexibility offered by the work-from-home option seems to have empowered people to make brave choices. They now know they are powerful enough to dictate their choices, ask for better work-life balance and hold companies accountable for their stand. They have become more selective because there is always another company waiting to make an offer. They could also take a sabbatical to think things through or opt for gig work.
Companies are suddenly realising that quality talent has credible choices. From people needing a job to shape their careers and pay bills, there has been a tectonic shift to acknowledging the need for quality talent for success or growth. In the highly competitive landscape, organisations need to do their best to woo and win. Employee value proposition is one factor that can help organisations by tipping the scales in their favour. Employees now understand their value, and organisations should use it to their advantage. Acknowledge employee value propositions, evaluate and offer compensation accordingly. Else, you could lose the talent war. Welcome to the talent economy, which has made talent acquisition teams across the globe sit up and take notice.
So, if talent economy is the most significant 2023 talent trend, how can you capitalise on it? How can you strategise and ensure that you do not lose out on quality talent? Here are five tips to help you plan.
- Move with the times: The ostrich mentality will no longer help. This trend will not go away if you ignore it for some time. Instead, it may spell doom, and you may perish as your competitors will have lured the best. The key is to understand the shift that has happened in the workforce ecosystem. Remote work is and will continue to be a priority for many employees. For example, mothers with young children and those with ageing parents or any other pressing constraints now know that they can make a choice. The boom in flexi-work and the rise of the gig economy spell win-win for many people. Add to this the Gen Z mindset. They expect organisations to let them prioritise work-life balance and look up their choices, celebrities picked for endorsements, social causes supported, carbon footprint goals, etc.
It is a tall order, but organisations should accept this change, map their goals and visions to the changed expectations and formulate policies accordingly. Some changes may be disruptive, and yet those may just be what propel the organisation forward. Engage with the new hires from day one. Make them feel valued. Allow them to get a sense of belonging and develop pride in being a part of the organisation.
Discuss and chart a clear career path aligned with their employee value proposition. Drop rigid policies and change office environments to make them more open and welcoming. The employee’s presence in the office does not matter much any more. Instead, use tools and technology to make sure that they are accessible. This approach can work in your favour much more than you can imagine. Also, create change management awareness across the organisation. It can help people cope with changes better.
- Plan for effective talent management: One of the fundamental changes organisations should make is to bring effective talent management. Without the backing of effective talent management strategies, good talent acquisition teams will fail. These strategies should be driven by constantly engaging with employees, having constructive discussions and obtaining and providing feedback. The mechanism should be such that it should motivate employees, enable them to upskill periodically and make them feel empowered about their employee value proposition. Talent management should also consider the overall well-being of the employee. It could be flexi work schedules, wellness initiatives, periodic incentives to acknowledge good work, etc.The talent management policies should apply to all employees, including the leadership. Leaders should feel empowered to face dynamic changes and make bold and disruptive decisions when required. To create a sense of belonging in employees, organisations should learn to balance growth (aided by agility) and flexibility. When you unlock an employee’s true potential, gaining a competitive edge becomes child’s play as employees will voluntarily put their best foot forward. As Richard Branson, the British business magnate who founded the Virgin Group, said, “Take care of your employees and they will take care of your business.” Therefore, create great employee experiences that will drive them to offer exceptional customer experiences.An aspect not to be ignored is reskilling employees, which helps organisations fill the talent gap more easily than recruiting new hires. Employees feel good about the realigned and more challenging roles that map to their charted growth paths. This effectively means they may not look out. However, for assured success, organisational values that everyone identifies with should be the driving force behind these efforts.
- Develop situational leadership: The days of leaders acting like dictators and stifling independent decisions are long gone. Leaders should become facilitators and enable people and teams around them to achieve their maximum potential. They need to be open to new ideas, keep track of industry trends, anticipate the unexpected and create a situational leadership style that propels growth in every scenario. This is possible only if the leaders are in touch with employees at every level. They should take feedback, request suggestions and enable strategies that bring out the best in everyone. When required, they should make disruptive changes that show employees they have a risk-taking appetite to fuel growth. Talent management teams can run periodic polls about possible changes and request feedback on the ones already implemented. Also, ensure that there is data backing every decision to justify it. Follow this up with information about how it helped. It gives employees a sense of confidence and security in their leaders.
- Go digital: Cliched though it may sound, you cannot ignore the fact that we are in the digital age. However, in the new talent economy, what matters is how organisations use technology to attract and retain talent. Implement intelligent solutions such as the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), AI-backed online assessment platforms for hiring, social media campaigns and customised online fraud-proof assessments, including relevant gamification strategies, synchronous and asynchronous virtual interviews and paperless virtual onboarding.
Once you onboard the new hires, keep up the constant engagement to ensure reskilling, charting career paths, etc. Drive all these discussions backed by insights from data about their contributions. The organisation should have systems that seamlessly capture and track the KRA data of employees in a transparent manner. When objective data drives every decision, there will rarely be conflicts about biases, manipulation, perspectives, etc. Going digital automatically means that every decision is impartial, fair and transparent, which facilitates open and constructive discussions.
- Use purpose to drive decisions: Another trending buzzword of the current times is purpose-driven organisations. All it means is that every decision that leaders make helps the organisation achieve its purpose. Leaders should identify the organisational purpose and ensure that every employee aligns with it. Purpose-driven organisations provide employees with the resources required to grow in line with their goals. This approach becomes an employee-friendly initiative as employees realise their potential and see their worth soaring through enhanced employee value propositions.
It also helps elevate employer branding in a big way. Gen Z evaluates organisations based on various initiatives such as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), sustainability, a purpose beyond profit, etc. Having sound policies around what employees identify with is helpful when recruiting Gen Z, especially during campus recruitment.
Also, empathy is another significant factor that influences Gen Z and leaders will have to walk the talk with regard to this. They need to look beyond profit, speak up on global issues such as climate change LGBTQ+, etc. and build a culture of trust and empathy that resonates with employees.
When these simple strategies become active, it is easier for organisations to tackle the new talent economy with ease. These strategies are not just a means to attract and retain talent. They are growth-oriented and create a robust talent ecosystem that can counter many challenges like attrition, poaching, burnouts and talent gap. They create sustainable organisations that achieve growth while balancing employee wellness and promoting a diverse workforce that thrives on possibilities. These initiatives also nurture and develop responsible leaders who can question the status quo when required to change the world order and bring about positive changes.
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