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How to Recruit the Best Talent in a Post-Pandemic Workplace

When something becomes an acronym, you know it’s a major event. One of the most significant changes brought on by Covid-19 is the dramatic increase in working from home, or WFH for short. While WFH was an option for many in our pre-pandemic lives, one could argue that Covid-19 sped up the WFH rate by a good five years. Most companies acknowledge that the remote work “experiment” has been successful. In a recent PwC survey, 83% of employers say remote work has worked well for them. But what about the 17% who indicated it was either unsuccessful or had mixed results?

Employers who can successfully enable a remote workforce and embrace flexibility will be leading the charge with their ability to retain and recruit the best talent. Those unwilling to change their mentality risk being left behind in the war for post-pandemic talent.

A Disconnect between Executives and Employees

Several recent studies report a gap between executives’ and workers’ views of the new workplace. Not surprisingly, leaders expect a faster move back to in-office work. A February 2021 survey by HIBOB found that only 13% of workers want to return to the office full time. But a year ago 71% of those same employees were in the office five days a week. Furthermore, almost half of individual contributors felt that going back to the office would have a negative impact on their work / life balance versus only a quarter of senior managers.

Obviously, the view from the top is a bit different than on the front line. And a particularly alarming finding of the study was that, despite high satisfaction levels, over a third of the workforce said they might quit their current job if forced to return to the office full time.

At Planet Professional, we are seeing first-hand the impact this has on the ability to recruit the best talent. Even with vaccination rates increasing and coronavirus cases dwindling, candidates remain consistently resolute about not returning to the office full time. The companies having the most success in hiring are those who understand this and encourage people to work from home, not pressuring them to physically be in an office.

Casting a Wider Net to Recruit the Best Talent

With the ability to work productively from home, many knowledge workers are reevaluating where they want to live. Many are moving away from expensive regions like New York City, San Francisco, and Boston. This is a positive development for employers who can now draw on talent from a larger geographical area. No need to relocate employees or pay higher salaries to compensate for a high cost of living.

As an example, we have a pharmaceutical client based in the Boston area. They didn’t even consider remote work in the past because of a concern for company culture. However, soon enough, their mindset changed and they realized being more flexible regarding where employees were located could be beneficial. Now they are casting a wider net and having an easier time hiring, tapping into geographies that were previously off-limits.

New Perks for a New World

Being comfortable with remote work is one thing – but being empathetic toward employees and flexible with their time is equally as critical. While many employees are saving time and effort because they’re not commuting, it’s too easy to blur the lines between work and personal. Where does the work day end and your personal life begin?

Many organizations realize this and are actively encouraging workers to take breaks throughout the work day. They’re also suggesting employees take vacation days, or even take mental health days. Some are offering to pay for mental health services, a benefit many insurance plans do not cover. Some companies are even giving employees a stipend to cover necessary workplace tools like computers, WIFI, office furniture, and technical repairs.

Even with its popularity, the biggest casualty of remote work is the isolation and lack of socializing. In an office environment, relationships deepen organically. In a remote workplace, management must make the extra effort to communicate and make sure everyone feels included. Many organizations are making the extra effort to provide virtual collaboration. From virtual happy hours to fun swag delivered to the employee’s home, companies are getting creative about building camaraderie.

Not every company can allow for a remote workforce given the nature of their business. Of those who can, being flexible and creative will provide a valuable advantage to recruit the best talent.

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

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