An open letter to CEOs: It’s time to focus on long-term solutions for retaining talent
Despite tentative signs of a shift in recruitment dynamics, the challenge to secure great talent remains as difficult as ever.
Through our many conversations, workshops and insight sessions with our clients and network, we regularly hear from HR leaders under pressure to rapidly plug gaps and rebuild teams. They tell us about recruitment targets, recruitment deadlines, and incentives to cut time-to-hire rates.
Most of all they tell us that HR teams can’t – and shouldn’t – be expected to fix this problem alone.
Are CEOs missing a trick here? Poor retention is having real and significant impact on business operations and their ability to deliver for customers. What was once an HR issue is now a very big and urgent issue for the entire C‑suite.
If executive leaders and board members work more closely together to address the root cause of these challenges, skilled employees will be more incentivised to stay. This open letter sums up what we’ve learned from HR leaders on the pressing need for CEOs to pay more purposeful attention to company culture. What would you add?
The open letter
The crux of the matter
Half of HR leaders expect increased talent competition over the next six months, and almost as many anticipate attrition will remain high for in-demand roles in 2024.
As with the accompanying challenges of high inflation, geopolitical tensions and supply chain volatility, the root causes of the talent shortage are unique to the era we are living through, which means the old ways of doing things won’t work now. Today’s employees are demanding more from the businesses they work for, and those demands can’t be met solely by HR departments because they pertain to the entire employee experience.
HR directors know only too well that they need to quickly build more trust and give people more compelling reasons to stay, which is why improving the employee experience is one of their top priorities for 2023. However, they tell us they are struggling to get leadership on board. Now, more than ever, CEOs need to take the reins and establish a company-wide approach to talent shortages that will have a bigger and more lasting impact.
Culture and mindset shift
Attrition, retention and attraction challenges are often a symptom of broader issues that need to be addressed collectively.
The pandemic changed the rules of engagement, shifting people’s perceptions of what they want. We know that employees are not driven by pay alone, but are seeking a compelling employee value proposition – supportive culture, appealing soft benefits, flexibility, and opportunities for learning and development.
Setting the benchmarks is not a job solely for HR; it is a company-wide endeavour. Senior leaders need to seize this opportunity to listen to employees and navigate the new landscape together.
If companies have not taken a hard look at how their culture and employee experience measures up against these new expectations, then they risk falling into a relentless attrition/attraction trap. Losing good people continuously, they will be forced to commit time and resources to constantly chasing new talent. By asking tough questions and establishing an authentic and foundational culture, companies can forge new and stronger relationships with their employees.
Developing the skills we need
Digital transformation is outpacing skills, and tackling this problem with talent attraction isn’t a long-term solution if there isn’t a strong culture to retain them. That’s why upskilling should be an urgent priority for all companies.
With people spending less time in the office, employees risk losing sight of promotion opportunities and straying off the career advancement path. Senior leaders need to be visibly championing and heading up efforts to upskill the workforce, providing inspiration and credibility as well as mentoring.
Leadership development is the number one priority for 60% of HR managers in 2023, according to a survey by Gartner. But senior leadership needs to get actively involved to lend weight to programmes and ensure they are seen as more than a tick-box exercise. If individuals feel valued and supported by those at the top, they are more likely to progress through the company and enrich it with their growing talent. Everyone in leadership has a role in fostering this culture and capturing its potential.
The future is flexible
Flexibility is no longer just about the ability to work from home or the local coffee shop. In a Forbes survey of 1,300 workers on what matters most in terms of flexible work, more knowledge workers and frontline workers selected flexibility in when work gets done, over flexibility in where work happens.
Changing to a flexible model requires a cultural shift. People want to feel that their time is valued and respected, without having to explain why they were working different hours. Policies cannot change attitudes, which is why senior leaders need to get involved with making flexible working a compelling reason to join and stay with the company.
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A collective responsibility
So much more than hiring and firing, talent attraction and retention are long-term issues that require leadership now more than ever. If we can work together to identify opportunities to improve company culture and address the root causes, we can create an environment where attraction and retention become less of a pressing challenge.
Nurturing a positive employee experience leads to stronger company loyalty, with talent not only engaged to stay but motivated to make a difference and invested in the future of the business.
What do you think?
We believe culture is everyone’s business. Does that ring true for you? We would love to hear your experiences and thoughts on how senior leaders can help you tackle talent shortages. Please share your comments below.
Get in touch. We’d love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org