The global disruption caused by the ongoing pandemic and social unrest in some parts of Asia over the last two years has resulted in an unprecedented change in how, when and where people work. It has also led many people to reflect on their work motivations, values and how best to balance professional and personal commitments. For most organisations, this has created great challenges in managing the expectations of their employees, as it has also altered the way many people think, feel and engage within their organisation. This is the “Talent Uprising”, which is ushering in an era in which employees have begun to have increased expectations about flexibility, leadership, culture, purpose, diversity and inclusivity.
While many companies are going through exponential change dealing with digital transformation, hybrid working, reskilling and upskilling, they also have a unique opportunity to transform in response to this paradigm shift in power, in which employees are now exerting their influence to redefine and shape their future of work.
“Talent Uprising” is an opportunity
This “Talent Uprising” presents a unique opportunity for organisations on numerous fronts. Many have rapidly moved to a remote work environment at the start of the pandemic, proving that employees are not always required to be “in the office” to perform at their jobs. This has opened the door for organisations to recruit the best talents from beyond traditional locations, and not limit the confines of their search to those who might reside nearby or are willing to relocate.
This has also provided an opportunity to create meaningful changes in workplace culture at an accelerated pace. As business strategy continues to adapt, so too must the organisational culture which is central to enabling its successful execution. This gives an opportunity for leaders to reorient their organisation around an ideal culture that is leader-led, reinforced at every step in the employee lifecycle, and enabled through the support of great HR.
Embracing the Future of Work
I believe there are important lessons to be learned from the last 24 months of the pandemic. Leaders are now expected to facilitate some degree of choice and empowerment over how, when and where their people and teams work to achieve the outcomes that they are responsible for delivering. This will require continued periods of experimentation, trial and error, adaptability and agility. Approaches that are inflexible and rigid but are being re-introduced simply because it worked well ‘pre-pandemic’ run a high risk of disengaging people and falling short of their current needs, values and expectations.
An aligned organisational culture, that is delivered through inspiring and engaging leaders, and supported by talent management practices that deliver a world-class employee experience are crucial to leading people through these challenging times and turning the risk of a “Great Resignation” into an opportunity for competitive advantage through attracting and retaining the best talent.
Practical ways that leaders can make this happen inside of their organisation include:
- Organisations being intentional about creating the culture required to move their business forward -- one that is aligned to strategy, executed through leaders and supported with talent programs that works for the business and its employees.
- Increased emphasis on caring and engaging leadership. Developing relationships that unlock people’s potential while balancing the needs of the business remains a key area of focus. As the pandemic continues, there must be a greater emphasis on leadership that demonstrates trust, authenticity, care and concern for employees.
- Leveraging on innovation to develop leadership talent in a remote or hybrid environment. With pandemic restrictions limiting the opportunity to bring people back into traditional face-to-face learning, organisations should look to leverage new tools, technologies and practices to fast-track the development of required leadership capabilities. Coaching and mentoring remain as important as ever.
- DE&I becoming critically important to recruitment and retention efforts as well as the employee experience. Countless studies have demonstrated the impact diversity and inclusivity has on business performance, customer experience, innovation and a suite of other critical outcomes. People must be comfortable to bring their whole self to their work.
- Listening and responding to employees is even more critical than before. Now more than ever, leaders need to actively listen to the experience of their people and demonstrate a high commitment to acting on this feedback. This means asking the right questions to the right people, at the right time, which may require adjustments to the frequency of your employee surveys.
The key focus for organisations and leadership is to work on the lessons learnt over the last two years of the pandemic, to understand what’s worked well, what could be improved and how motivations and expectations of people are changing. It is also essential to look at new ways of working and not be under the illusion that things are going to revert to the way they used to be.
Employees want to be heard and it will be unwise of leaders not to facilitate some degree of choice and empowerment over how their people deliver results.
There is substantial competitive advantage to be gained by the organisations that most effectively realign their culture to enable business strategy and transform their talent management practices enabling new ways of working. Now is the time to seize on this competitive opportunity.