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Having A Hard Time Hiring And Retaining Talent? Flexibility Might Be The Key

by Julie Tuggle-Nguyen

As employers, many of us find ourselves asking, “What’s Next?” Whether we have a team of 5, 50 or 500, we are challenged by the indelible mark of COVID—19 as we rebuild our businesses and our workforces. Major shifts on how, when and where work gets done, challenge us to rethink the old, comfortable normal and reinvent our workplaces and policies.

Let’s start with this simple fact: if your thinking has shifted to “now what?” it means your business has survived. You have pivoted, you have adapted, you have continued to fulfill the needs of your customers and communities. As we move from survival mode to building our next normal, we find ourselves facing a whole new set of challenges, including an incredibly tight labor market, and shifting expectations around the work environment.

Even as the economy has come roaring back, many small businesses are struggling to find and retain talent. This point was punctuated as I drove by my local pizza place and saw a help wanted sign for $17 per hour. While compensation has always been a key driver in hiring and retention, it is certainly not the only factor on which we can compete for talent. As business owners and leaders, there are now once-in-a-career opportunities to transform the workplace to be more fun, more flexible, more collaborative, more meaningful, and ultimately more productive.

The pandemic has pulled back the curtain on work/life balance in a way that demands rethinking if we hope to hire and retain a strong team in this post-pandemic world. Women were among the hardest hit, with 1.8 million fewer women in the labor force today than before the pandemic. Offering flexibility could be a key factor in luring talent back into the workforce and helping your company differentiate in the tight labor market.

Flexible work can take on many forms, but it starts with the basics. You must first understand the needs of your customers and ensure you are meeting them to keep your business running. Establish your core business hours and determine when it is essential to have your team together. Listen to your employees. Hear what they are saying that would help create engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty.

Now, get creative about the best ways to get work done.

- Can you offer full-time remote work or a hybrid solution between work at home and in the office? This has been a big win for many of our teams that are not customer facing.

- Can you establish guardrails around meetings times? One of our teams, primarily made up of single or working parents of young children, agreed to not schedule meetings before 9 am or after 4pm to allow them the flexibility they needed to juggle school drop off and pick up.

- Does the work have to be completed within the structure of a “normal” work day? Can you create new options? For the early riser or the late-night genius can their work be done outside of the 9-5 confines? Allowing people to get their work done in concert with the actual schedule of their lives can create great balance.

- We’ve also seen some of our leaders come up with creative solutions in terms of hiring, and paying, workers for 4 days per week to accommodate for greater work/life balance. In addition, we have hybrid teams of full-time staff and contractors, where the team can capitalize on talent as needed and contractors obtain the flexibility needed in their lives.

Now is a unique opportunity to reset the way work gets done. Embrace it. We can reshape our businesses and rebuild our workforces for the future.

Julie Tuggle-Nguyen is EVP of Human Resources, Midwest BankCentre.
 

Submitted 268 days ago
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