While the world is grappling with the social and economic consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic, many businesses are exploring new and innovative ways of doing work while leveraging inherent strengths to not only survive but also thrive post the virus. Key to their future success will be the ability to retain existing talent and also attract future capability to ensure their organisation is well positioned for what will inevitably be a significantly changed world.

So what are likely to be the critical factors to ensure companies have the right capability to steer through the current crisis and successfully navigate the new world?

From various discussions with our clients over recent weeks there appear to be four key themes emerging in this new war for talent:

Flight to quality

There are two dimensions to this point. Firstly there will be inevitable winners and losers in industry. Candidates will be attracted to those sectors that can make a strong case for survival. Obvious winners at this stage would appear to be Health Care, Pharmaceuticals, Agriculture, Resources and Food Retailing. However, the long term prognosis of the tourism, commercial property and broader retailing sectors is less clear.

Secondly, in the immediate short term individuals will pay a lot of focus to the perceived strength/brand of an organisation. For example, in the airline industry despite the turmoil it is clear that the government will take steps to ensure that Qantas will survive paving the way for an arguably stronger market position post COVID-19.  Candidates will want to stay and be more attracted to businesses in sectors with good long term prospects and strong brands.

Truly Flexible Work Environment

Many organisations are for the first time exploring the boundaries of available technology to enable their staff to have greater balance and flexibility between work and home life. Anecdotally while companies are seeking to address this issue, efforts to date would appear clumsy. The impact of this transition is more likely to affect executives with young families as they try to meet their work deadlines from home while ensuring that their children are still attending to school lessons.

Organisations who can demonstrate that they truly have mastered this new world will stand out from the pack. The frontline in this battle is in the way organisations use and leverage technology and other tools through the interview and induction processes for a new role. The best organisations are able to provide an experience to potential candidates that clearly shows they have mastered this new terrain.

Mitigating Transition Costs

Candidates will want to ensure that the transition to a new role in another company is seamless and mitigates the risk of the move not working out. This may require organisations to invest more time through the interview process to not only assure themselves that the candidate is right for them, but also that the candidate is comfortable that the challenge, culture, role and organisation is right for them. More meetings with key stakeholders, both formal and informal, maybe required to win over the candidate.

Clear communication, transparency and timeliness of process will also likely be important.  Contract negotiations may require the hiring organisations to vary certain standard conditions. For example, to provide greater surety to candidates the hiring company may need to reduce or remove the need for a probation period. Sign on bonuses or increases in FAR/STI components to compensate executives will also need to be in the mix to attract and secure high performing executives in the short to medium term

Eye For the Future

There is much talk about how effectively companies are responding to COVD-19 by re-examining how they do business and seeking to transform or at the least adjust their business models. Inevitably some organisations will have a clearer path on how their business will look and operate, which roles and functions will need to change or become redundant.

Candidates will be seeking opportunities to play a role in shaping the future or evidence a well-articulated plan on the way forward. Failure for organisations to effectively outline their strategy in these tumultuous times will inhibit their ability to attract the critical talent needed to put their words into actions.

Only time will tell what the future landscape will look like, but what can be certain is that the organisations who actively look to ensure they have a compelling offering and experience for candidates in this new world will be best placed to succeed.

Do you agree with these four themes?  Are there others talent acquisition strategies you think are important? Leave a comment below.  

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