C4 Professional Development: The demand for skilled talent

Our September C4 Member Board Meeting held an informative professional development segment focused on talent and hiring. Keynote speaker Deborah Bottineau, District President of Robert Half, presented: “The Demand for Skilled Talent: Hiring in the Pandemic and Beyond.” The presentation discussed the current employment and hiring landscape, how companies are preparing to face fierce competition for skilled talent, a focus on hiring in a hybrid or virtual world, and the many changes that have occurred over the past two years. 

New research from Robert Half shows that 43 per cent of senior managers plan to add new positions in the second half of 2021, while 96 per cent of business leaders expressed it is very or somewhat challenging for their company to find skilled professionals. 

“Hiring is top of mind for many employers right now but the ability to find skilled candidates continues to be a challenge,” said Bottineau. “Job seekers are more confident in the labour market and know what they want and need going forward, and employers need to not only meet, but exceed their expectations, in order to land top talent.”  

Recognize that workers want flexibility and a focus on company values 

When it comes to how we work, the pandemic pushed companies and consumers to rapidly adopt new  behaviours which are likely to stick around. A Robert Half survey of over 500 workers showed 51 per cent prefer a hybrid work environment where they can divide their time between the office and another location.

In addition, professionals have had time to reflect on what is most important to them and want to know that their employer is aligned with the principles they believe in. In fact, 75 per cent of professionals are  willing to leave a company whose values don’t align with their own. 

Senior managers need to take the time to understand what matters to their workers – their preferences and core values – and create a culture that supports their needs through diversity, inclusivity, collaboration and growth.

This begs the question for senior managers, if the personal preferences of their team members is known: where do they prefer to work, and do the core values of the organization align with that of the employees? Values including diversity, collaboration, and equality all ranked as top of mind for employees.

Attract top talent via corporate culture

The hiring market is incredibly competitive right now and workers want to know they have flexibility in regard to when, where and how they work moving forward. Recent Robert Half research indicates 33 per cent of professionals working from home due to the pandemic would look for a new job if required to be in the office full time moving forward. Many employees are also reflecting on the importance of their well-being and mental health and gravitating towards organizations with strong employee health, wellness, and benefits support. Seventy-two per cent surveyed said employee wellness programs are most important to them, followed closely by recognition programs at 53 per cent. Additionally, 43 per cent reported being more burned out on the job today than at the same time last year. At this point, company values are non-negotiable, and employees need to be proactively engaged, recognized, and supported by their employers.

Provide meaningful work

Regardless of generation, workers want to feel connected to their company and colleagues, and feel they are being given the opportunity to do meaningful work. The desire for career development exists, and employees want to feel that what they do matters. 

The importance of investing in employees as future leaders is more crucial than ever. Companies must find ways to create and share new opportunities, and foster strong connections between themselves and their employees for continued future success. Programs provided through work — such as certificate courses, leadership development training, and regular career pathing discussions with senior managers — help to create a space where employees understand what the future looks like for them. In turn, it will help them to establish meaningful connections with the work they are producing and the impact they have. 

Key takeaways

To both gain and retain top talent, it is critical to adapt to the changing workplace. Here are the top six things to consider:

  1. Are you having “stay” interviews with your employees to understand what is going to keep them, and what their career journey is? 
  2. Are you offering more flexibility to your employees in regards to remote work, a hybrid environment, etc.?
  3. Are you increasing the mental health programs you offer? 
  4. Are managers receiving training to lead their teams successfully and effectively in a remote or hybrid work environment?
  5. Do you have a ‘return to office committee’ in place to accommodate preference, communication and planning? 
  6. How does your current corporate culture attempt to attract top talent?