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Managing Tech Talent in Unprecedented Times

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

The pandemic has transformed our business, technology, and ways of working. As remote work has become more prevalent, many companies are contemplating whether this model should stay even post pandemic, even if just to a lesser extent. On the other hand, fatigued employees are contemplating whether they wish to remain in their current positions, or if they will opt for a new position post-pandemic.

According to the Achievers Workforce Institute, a staggering 52% of North American respondents say that they will be searching for new employment this year. The same study also claims that 25% of employees will quit their current jobs post-pandemic. After a long period of very low turnover, this would make sense, as turnover rates are expected to skyrocket post-pandemic.

As Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft put it, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months", many businesses and consumers have been rapidly adopting digital processes. As a result, competition in the tech industry has grown, along with the amount of qualified job prospects in the market. There is a lot of potential in this industry for both businesses and employees, and according to Deloitte, global public cloud service is expected to generate approximately $308.5 billion this year. Additionally, Deloitte also reports that there is a lot of potential in fields such as AI, cybersecurity, cloud, analytics, and more, to name a few.

Companies are struggling to keep tech talent, and are looking for ways to retain them. According to LinkedIn, IT professionals and software engineers get substantially more attention on their profiles. This makes acquiring experts in the field more difficult since these jobs have become high in-demand.

What is drawing employees away from their current positions and toward other ones? This can be attributed to the “invisible gorilla”. The idea of the invisible gorilla came about from an experiment conducted 10 years ago. The study ended up revealing that when people are too concentrated on a specific task or objective, they become unaware of the unexpected. Businesses currently face the same challenge. During the pandemic, they had to shift gears and focus on keeping their companies afloat, which inevitably made them unaware of other present issues.

Hidden Challenges & Opportunities

There are three main components of the invisible gorilla, or three main challenges that must be acknowledged and addressed: the post-pandemic workplace, burnout, and large post-pandemic turnover rates. The world is constantly changing, and companies will need to keep up accordingly in order to figure out the best course of action for the business and its employees.

1. Turnover Tsunami & Reasons For It

In many industries, turnover rates dropped dramatically with the onset of the pandemic. Times were extremely uncertain, and very few people were willing to take the leap of faith in looking for a new position. However, experts predict that it will be quick to rebound like never before post-pandemic.

During the pandemic, employees have had the chance to reflect on what is most important to them in a job. Work-life balance, flexibility, and mental health are top of mind for those looking for new job opportunities post-pandemic. Employees are keen to see organizations reassess their HR policies and work arrangements to reduce burnout, increase employee engagement and career opportunities, and address wage stagnation in their post-pandemic workplace.

People are beginning to feel the effects of remote work, with some benefitting while others are not. Roughly 46% of surveyed respondents claimed to be disengaged in their remote work environment, according to the Achievers Workforce Institute. Therefore, companies should focus on engaging their workforce, proper communication, and providing frequent updates to keep talent interested and motivated to continue working for their current employer

2. The New Workplace

In a matter of weeks, companies had to shift gears and rework their workplaces to operate in an online setting. As the economy and world state starts to become more stabilized, businesses have now been faced with another decision: whether or not to allow employees to work remotely.

To solve this dilemma, many companies have opted to integrate a hybrid workplace: partly remote and partly in-person. A new workplace will still allow employees to have some level of flexibility while also being able to return to an in-person setting.

However, there will be challenges with this type of arrangement, and potential implications on company culture that businesses should be aware of. There is always the danger of two distinct cultures forming, one for those working remotely and the other for those in-person. This in itself can become very isolating, and could potentially create a rift between the two work environments. Therefore, efforts must be made to integrate the two environments as much as possible in order to create a sense of cohesiveness.

Figuring out the best mix and how to best communicate this change with employees can be challenging, since employees want to feel that their concerns and views are being heard. Not everyone has had the same experience with remote work; some have thrived and some have had a difficult time with it.

3. Burnout & Mental Health

Another challenge faced by employees during this difficult period has been the increased amount of burnout, stress, and anxiety experienced by people in remote workplaces. This challenge affected most employees, from working parents to new and seasoned employees.

Being at home more frequently has presented the challenge of having difficulties with separating work from home life. For employees with children, this shift can be even more difficult as they struggle to balance the responsibilities of their job and their responsibilities as parents. With a lack of clearly defined boundaries, it is increasingly difficult therefore to escape the stress of work and focus on other things.

Even though it has been reported that productivity has increased during this period, it has not been without a cost. With nowhere to go, people do not have the same opportunities to unwind and are therefore becoming fatigued from their jobs and are becoming disengaged.

Many employees all over the world are feeling the effects of remote work and the pandemic. For instance, according to YouGov, roughly 65% of employees from the U.K. and 56% of employees from the U.S. reported a negative mental health impact. As a result, employees are encouraging companies to dedicate more resources and attention to mental health and wellbeing.

Business Savvy Solutions

Although daunting, these challenges can be addressed, if the right resources and strategies are put into place. In some cases, this may mean expanding resources and developing new systems that help to better serve employees.

1. Internal Mobility & Opportunities to Develop New Skills

Employees often dislike feeling static in their careers -- if more time and resources are put into helping employees advance their knowledge and skills, and consequently their careers, this can help retain employees. This also includes finding managers who will be dedicated to facilitating this growth, as feedback and encouragement can go a long way.

To accomplish this, more routine opportunities should be implemented that will help employees refine old skills and develop new ones. According to the Harvard Business Review, this is a process that at the very least should occur every 12 months, if not more often.

2. Meaningful Work

Something that has been troubling for some employees is a lack of meaningful work. Sitting at home on the computer all day is already hard enough, so getting employees excited about their tasks and jobs is key to overcoming some of these challenges. According to LinkedIn, statistics even show that self-motivated employees experience a 64% higher level of satisfaction at their jobs. This translates into a greater return, and helps keep retention rates up.

Sometimes it may be overlooked just how important job satisfaction is -- but focusing on this can unlock some great results that will not only benefit employees but the company as a whole. According to LinkedIn, companies who focus on creating meaningful work have a 40% increased rate of retention. During a time where the job market is very uncertain, this is a very reassuring statistic and one that should be kept in mind.

3. Better Workplace Environment & Culture

During a state of isolation and limited social interaction, reinforcing the workplace culture has become more important than ever. Show employees they have your support and make an effort to integrate more activities that will encourage people to communicate, collaborate and strengthen themselves as both individuals and teams.

It will most likely be a slow transition back to in-person work, and by no means will it be the same as before. Employees know this, and need the reassurance of their employer that the right plan will be put into place that will take the concerns of its employees into consideration. If companies do decide to maintain a hybrid model, there will need to be efforts to have a consistent workplace culture across both sets of teams. According to statistics from the World Economic Forum, it is predicted that nearly 25% of employees will consider leaving their jobs if they are 100% in-person. Different circumstances will allow some people to work in-person while others cannot, so it is important to ensure that employees feel valued whether they are working in-person or remotely.

To approach this issue, companies need to be strategic in how they roll out their plans for post-pandemic life. This involves giving employees advanced notice and ensuring top health and safety measures are in place.

Work post-pandemic will need a lot of adjustments, but there is a lot of hope that if companies begin communicating their post pandemic strategies with their employees. Communication is a pillar of any relationship, especially between an employer and an employee, to ensure that concerns are being addressed and the right conversations are being had. By implementing some of these strategies, companies will be able to prosper in the future and as a result, create better connections with their employees and customers alike.

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