The War for Talent is not a new problem, but the pandemic has certainly amplified it. It is not surprising after a period of uncertainty, lockdowns, new working practices and dealing with all the challenges in between, workers in 2022 are looking for more choice in where, how, and why they work.
In response, employers are needing to think creatively about new work models, sourcing strategies that cast a wider net than traditional ‘permanent’ roles and producing new ways of compelling extraordinary talent to stay. Watermark’s 2022 Annual Interim Executive Survey suggests that some ways organisations are changing are through Employee Value Proposition (EVP) tools such as embracing hybrid work, providing more flexibility, ensuring work has purpose and meaning, and providing an environment where cultural values are strongly aligned to the work performed.
To put this topic under the microscope and give real and practical advice about EVP, we invited Helen Hovenga and Sally Elson to speak with us. Helen is a technology focused, HR Executive who has worked with Executives, CEO's and Boards in developing and delivering People Strategy with passion, kindness, drive and effective performance outcomes. Most recent she was the Global Chief People Officer with a biotech company, Telix Pharmaceuticals. Sally is currently the Head of People at MYOB, the leading business platform helping more businesses in Australia and New Zealand start, survive and succeed. Sally has over 25 years of experience in the Human Resources sector, across Australia, Asia, and the UK.
We asked Helen and Sally some important questions and below are the key highlights of the discussion:
How has the pandemic changed the way you do business now in this post-pandemic landscape? What have you learned through this period?
Sally – MYOB was quite lucky because they started from a powerful base of ‘flex culture’ and the use of SAAS products. This made it easier for their employees during the pandemic to switch to complete remote working and they were able to ride it out. The feeling of community really shifted, and it is now such a key part of people go back into the office.
"WORK IS MORE THAN WORK."
And for their customers, it really enhanced the importance of the SME market in Australia, in driving the economy forward in such a challenging time.
Helen - Peter Mac had a great and urgent focus on health and wellbeing with a real focus on mental health.
At Telix, Helen’s experience was that covid created a divide in experience between those who had to go into the office every day (those in the warehouse and at distribution centres) and those who could work remotely (corporate office employees). Team effectiveness over time definitely slowed down.
What have you observed about how your workforce wishes to engage with work and delivering to customers post-pandemic? What opportunities and challenges has this presented?
Sally – At MYOB they created new habits and new routines. The focus was on CONNECTION TO PURPOSE and CONNECTION TO COMMUNITY. These themes formed the basis of their EVP. This sense of purpose and community was always there but they enhanced it and worked on it.
"Your work matters."
This idea quickly came to the fore.
What is your read on the market and the challenges & opportunities presented to organisations by this shift in employee sentiment about how, where, and why they choose to work?
Helen – At Telix, the first focus was on values, to unite the culture. This gave a common platform for people to attach to. The next focus was on tweaking purpose. Telix are about creating longer and more meaningful lives for people with cancer and their employees were enthusiastic about this. They also strive to be extraordinary, and this attracted a lot of new talent.
A challenge was their sense of community and there really needed to be more connection. The clarity of purpose and values really helped provide this sense of community and a common goal. Telix also needed to recruit very quickly so not to lose great candidates. They included speed to market and psychometrics in their recruitment process to get quality talent.
What practical and commercial ways have you been fronting into these EVP opportunities for your people?
Sally – Concentrating on a combination of meaningful work and hybrid flexibility has helped MYOB (a ‘flexperience’ approach). They engaged Swinburne to help them with data and research – what team set up gives best performance at MYOB? What purposeful work makes sense to do remotely versus a compelling reason to come together in the office? Managers were empowered to work this through with their team and create ‘flex-deals’. They used an engagement survey to hear all points of view – not just the loud voices.
They found that team effectiveness is critical to success and coming together in person improves productivity. They also amplified their reason for being:
It is a balance of all these things (they all work together), and no one is more important than the others. What works for all four?
“TOGETHER!” Their EVP is built on COMMUNITY!
Helen – Educate yourself and be aware of the research in this area. Helen recommends Adam Grant’s podcast, “Work Life” - https://adamgrant.net/podcast/
At Telix, they have an ‘anchor day’ where everyone comes into the office. They found it is not enough to make people come into the office for a day, you really must maximise this time that teams are physically together. Plan!!! You can think of it as “the office is the new off-site day.”
“Managers need to UNLEARN some things.”
Another focus was on leaders unlearning old ways and learning new ways of leading in a hybrid world.
What insights and advice would you share for those on the webinar who, in their executive roles, are fronting into the war for talent, looking to evolve a compelling proposition for their employees – where do you start? What has been your biggest learning?
"Every interaction counts more."
It takes conscious and purposeful effort. If you are in the office – make it count – plan!!! Be purposeful and intentional.
Have guidelines rather than inflexible rules and really know your people. What drives them, what motivates them, how do they work, etc? This is how you positively impact culture rather than forcing it.
Helen recommends Adam Grant’s book, Think Again - https://adamgrant.net/book/think-again/
Understand what works for everyone. Listen to employees and the research. Understand what is important. Not just blanket statements just because. Really listen to employees and research.
Be authentic – do not just follow others. Do what is right for your organisation and your people.
Please see the full recording of the webinar below: