In an article in HBR titled Competing in the New Talent Market, Katy George, Chief People Officer at McKinsey and Company, posits that organizations are reexamining how they recruit, develop, and retain talent. They have to, she says, because the pandemic has accelerated three already existing trends among employees: the search for meaning; the desire for flexibility; and the pace of technological transformation.
Employees increasingly are bringing a new set of values, needs, and desires to the workplace, and the worker-employer contract is changing as a result, fundamentally and permanently. In this new environment, companies need to make … changes to succeed if they want to attract and retain talent.
As has previously been noted in this blog, It was Daniel Pink, in his 2009 book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us who first observed that, while tools such as compensation and promotion, are still important and work well for a significant chunk of the workforce, many people — in fact, the majority of the potential talent pool — want more, or have different priorities, and it is up to employers to attract and retain this group. For Pink these critical internal motivators were purpose, autonomy, and mastery. In her article, George goes deeper into how these show up in today’s workplace.
George asserts there are six critical changes companies need to make to attract, recruit, and retain talent in today’s market:
From Pedigree to Potential – In today’s multi-skilled market, degrees do not give a full picture of an applicant’s potential value to the organization. Shifting the focus from degrees to skills broadens the talent pool and can ensure that the most skilled, rather than the most credentialled people are hired.
From Preset Career Paths to Self-Authorship – As Pink noted, people want autonomy – the ability to personalize their jobs in a way that supports flexibility and well-being and allows them to create their own career paths. In today’s world skills can become obsolete at a rate never before seen, and employees want to take charge of their own professional development.
From One-Way to Two-Way, Real-Time Apprenticeship – Often younger, newer employees have skills, particularly in IT, that older employees and managers lack. Learning needs to go both ways. For example, a senior finance manager may pair with a lower-ranking AI specialist to their mutual benefit. An example is Proctor & Gamble has a “reverse mentoring” program that pairs people in this way to learn from each other.
From Traditional Working Norms to Teamwork as A Science – Companies have long since moved from a “silo” mentality to one that emphasizes cross-functional collaboration. Now they need to bring this collaborative mindset to all parts of the organization and to include digital tools, advanced analytics, and AI to create hybrid technologies that facilitate an even greater, more synergistic level of cooperation.
From Time Served to Impact Delivered – In an age of rapid and accelerating change, “time in grade” is no longer a useful criterion for advancement, and retention of top talent will require a different kind of evaluation that George calls “grow skills or go.”
From Culture Fit to An Inclusive Meritocracy –While almost every major company today includes diversity and inclusion in its values, George notes that “Capturing the full benefits of diversity is not about hiring people who can fit into the existing corporate culture; it is about ensuring that the culture itself is supportive and adaptable enough to embrace all kinds of talent. Only then will companies get the creativity, innovation, and different ways of thinking that diversity can bring.
What George is proposing is a transformation in recruiting, hiring, and retention. Given the complexity of the change, companies will need to recruit in a whole new way. A relationship with a recruiting firm that understands and stands for the demands of this new world is likely to produce the best results. An effective recruiting partner will partner with the company to identify the right combination of skill and experience to find the top candidates and to convey to them what it is the hiring company stands for.