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Refining workforce needs and wants

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In this special Transform It Forward mini series, I’m stepping back from the content we’ve produced so far to connect the dots. For the next few episodes in the series, I’ll be taking a look back at some key clips from past interviews that share common elements, or discuss similar industries. We’ve already taken a look back at the transportation industry and the retail industry. Today, we’re exploring something that affects all industries: the war for talent and refining workforce needs.

Transform It Forward with Evan Sohn, Jon Schlossberg and Amy MacGregor: Refining workforce needs and wants

To inform our discussion, I’m taking a look back at past episodes featuring Evan Sohn, Chairman and CEO of Recruiter.com, Jon Schlossberg, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman at financial services platform Even, and Amy MacGregor, Global HR Vice President, Employee Experience at Manulife Global.

With these interviews as our guide, we’ll be exploring some common themes in attracting, hiring and retaining top talent today.

Recruiting the human way

Over the past few years, just about every aspect of the workforce as we knew it has shifted dramatically. From the beginning stages of recruiting new hires to the steps employers are expected to take to keep their employees happy, almost everything associated with the employee experience has changed.

First, let’s talk recruitment. Evan Sohn, the Chairman and CEO of Recruiter.com, made some really interesting points about how the process has evolved, and where it’s going in the future.

“So let’s talk for a moment about the historical or traditional legacy model of hiring… Say you’re looking for a rocket scientist… So I find the wrong recruiter who has no contact database whatsoever, no engaged talent pool, no curated talent pool, no tools to source candidates, nothing. And I pay them on success. So if you are looking for that rocket scientist, then you hire that recruiter, the probability of that success would be next to nothing. It would be as if they threw a dart a mile away and potentially it hit a board. They have no way of succeeding. So the opposite must be true: the fastest way to hire talent would be to find the right recruiter, subject matter, expertise, geography, etc. I want a rocket scientist in Buffalo, New York, that’s worked at least three years in the automotive industry. Give me the right recruiter within an existing, engaged, ready-to-go, curated talent pool. LinkedIn has done a great job identifying who people are. We don’t care about identifying people. We want to know who’s engaged, who’s ready, who’s ready to make a move, who’s ready to look at an opportunity, who’s up and coming… So I think we’re going to start to see a shift to really being a curated talent pool and the right recruiter working on that curated talent pool.”

Despite how dramatically the recruitment process has evolved, Evan reminds us that when you strip away all the tech, tools and fancy gizmos, hiring talent is really about the human element at the end of the day.

“There’s a strong human element to recruiting. In fact, the top three most important decisions a person makes in their life is who they’re going to choose as their partner, a home that they buy and their career. And we all rely on people to help us throughout that process… If you look at the actual recruiting flow, there is, you know, post a job, collect resumés, review resumés, phone screen or screen the potential candidates, then interview them and then hire them. That process hasn’t changed. The resumé was created by Leonardo da Vinci… That tells me that this is ripe for disruption.”

Employee retention  

Attracting, recruiting and hiring the right talent is one thing. But retaining top talent into the future and reducing churn has also become a whole other ballgame over the past few years.

In the war for talent, employees are expecting more from their employers than ever. If employers hope to retain top talent, they need to prioritize their people and help them solve problems as if they were their own.

One of the unique challenges faced by millions of employees across the U.S. is income volatility—a problem that Jon Schlossberg and Quinten Farmer, the founders of Even, took it upon themselves to help employers and employees solve. 

“When we really learned more about this problem and how underserved this part of the population is dealing with this problem, that’s where we started. It really was bottoms up. It’s like, okay, here’s a problem that we’re going to try to solve. I think any employer that isn’t offering modern financial benefits to help hourly workers especially, is already thinking about doing it because it will be a requirement of managing an hourly workforce within, I would say, even a few years. The key question for these employers is, am I going to pay for these benefits because I believe my people deserve that, or am I going to sort of open up the doors for vendors who monetize my employees? Because those are the two options that you really have… There’s two different versions of where it could go. And I really want to see it go in the direction of employers should be paying for this.”

The employee experience

Any business leader who hopes to succeed today would be wise to put their people first. Without people who are passionate, dedicated and willing to work hard, a business doesn’t have much ground to stand on.

Today, savvy employers are recognizing the need to create a streamlined employee experience that keeps top talent happy, safe and aligned with a larger purpose. For Jon and the team at Even, part of this included designing a robust values system from the beginning.

“One of the things my people leader and I did really early on, I would say much earlier than a startup typically would, was we spent a lot of time designing a pretty detailed and robust hiring process, and training everyone who’s involved in hiring people at the company to follow this process and then actually tying how well they did on the process to the performance review cycle, so you actually have that sort of that those dots connected from am I evaluating for these values correctly? Am I making the trade offs the right way? And am I going to get rewarded for that? Because if you don’t do any of that, you can get by without a really strong culture in the early days for a little while. But it doesn’t scale, the thing that scales is process and incentive structure.”

As Amy MacGregor, Global HR Vice President, Employee Experience at Manulife Global explained, there are several components that go into designing a great employee experience. 

To name just a few: clear communication, collaboration, and bold ambition can go a long way in getting employees on board with your mission.

“What I’m seeing is that employees are really resonating with and rallying behind our mission and our bold ambition. They understand and can now draw alignment to the activities they’re working on, how that aligns to one of our strategic priorities and the value that we’re deriving from that. I’d also say over the last year, there’ve been projects that have fallen off the books or have been started and stopped. And I think that’s a testament to some of the central governance that we’ve had where if something’s not working, we do need to make a call and make a decision on pausing or pivoting from that, where in the past I think it might have taken us a lot longer to get to that point.”

Key takeaways on workforce needs

The workforce is evolving a mile a minute, but I hope this episode helped to open your eyes to some of the rapid changes we’re seeing in terms of attracting, hiring and retaining top talent.

Here are three key takeaways to remember from the episode:

  1. No matter how high-tech the hiring process becomes over time, it will always be a deeply human experience. Recruiters today need to have great judgment, operate on a solid gut instinct, and spend plenty of time getting to know their prospects in order to hire effectively.
  2. Now more than ever, employers need to look out for their employees. It’s not enough to pay a decent salary and provide a few benefits—employees are looking for supportive workplaces that are aligned with their own personal values systems, a sense of purpose and a flexible mindset.
  3. In the same vein, employers should be focusing on making the employee experience as easy and streamlined as possible for their teams. As technology evolves, it’s becoming more important than ever to take full advantage of the tools and platforms available to modernize the entire employee experience.

Listen to the full podcast episode here and subscribe for updates wherever you get your podcasts.