Laws of Attraction

As companies and candidates find their feet and focus in the next normal, challenges and opportunities abound. It’s a prime time for proactive HR managers to build teams that support companies through reconstruction and growth – the key lies in adaptability and the courage to change mind-set, course and culture.

Companies and human capital leaders must rethink what they expect and reflect. From hybrid work models and employee wellness programmes to ramping up diversity and inclusion, the goalposts have shifted. As digital transformation accelerates, people-centric values like trust, transparency and purpose top candidates’ checklists, often trumping salary and benefits. In this ever-evolving reality, attracting top talent has become more complex, but can also be exponentially more rewarding – for all sides.

In this article, we address key tips and strategies that can help hiring managers to attract top candidates to a company in an era of great uncertainty and transformation.

Raise the bar and lower the ceiling

In January 2020, none of us could have guessed the right answer to “Where do you see yourself a year or two from now?” But here we are. Brave business leaders and employees around the globe adapted swiftly and decisively to the pandemic, proving their capacity to make the seismic shift towards remote work. But now there’s another giant leap to make – from survival mode to restoration and growth. Within this new paradigm, a gap often emerges between the expectations of business leaders and those of candidates. 

Digital transformation has intensified at warp speed and leaders are finding a spectrum of solutions at their fingertips. Automation and AI offer tantalizing opportunities for growth, but workers often fear that tech will trump their security and skills. It’s vital that companies – and recruiters – explain their digital strategy (even if it’s still experimental), position themselves as “people-first” and clarify the role of tech as an enabler, not a replacement for talent. Offering training is a key way to show candidates that a company believes in balance and care enough to invest in people.

Create a virtuous circle of trust

Attracting outstanding candidates starts with clearly stating expectations and goals – from the moment the job ad goes live. “Cultivating long-term relationships relies on building a virtuous circle of trust and transparency from first impression” asserts Krzysztof Tuszyński, Senior Manager at Michael Page.

It’s also important for leaders and HR managers to learn why employees left, or want to leave their last post and to make a “note to selves” to avoid the same scenario. Jumping ship is often related to sense of purpose and value. For 94.9% of employees surveyed by Michael Page across Europe, the relationship with superiors and colleagues is the key driver when considering a move, followed by recognition for their work (94.7%) and possible access to training (90.2%) – significantly ahead of a pay rise (74.6%).

Flexibility is the new black

During the pandemic, remote work yielded surprising productivity and engagement for many organizations. But many workers felt the side effects. Almost 9 in 10 (89.8%) of employees interviewed by Michael Page in 2020 insisted on their need for greater work-life balance, while 69% of those surveyed by on-demand mental healthcare provider Ginger said 2020 has been the most stressful time of their entire careers, 91% of employees working from home reported experiencing moderate to extreme stress.

In the dawn of the next normal, smart leaders are offering hybrid working models that boost employee autonomy and wellbeing. Success depends on both sides setting (and voicing) realistic expectations, and on a mutual willingness to change gear or course if something doesn’t work. By walking the talk on scheduling, location and unplugged time, leaders are more likely to attract – and retain – workers who are equally understanding.

Companies who respond to their employees’ concerns are likely to achieve stronger productivity performance. Change is inevitable for 72% of employees surveyed by Michael Page, who believe that the COVID-19 crisis will impact their career expectations and options. Concerns around job security within six months plague 31% of them, while 35% are worried about how the next year will pan out. Showing candidates that a company will respond to their needs – through wellness or financial support programmes, confidential counselling services or empathic leadership – is a huge draw.

Hiring without borders

If there’s a silver lining of the next normal, it’s that it enables companies to practice greater diversity and inclusion. Leaders and hiring managers can enrich the talent, perspectives and capacity of their teams – and firmly tick their CSR boxes – by being open to candidates from other backgrounds, generations or sectors that they might not previously have considered.

Progressive companies that tackle gender-bias from the wording of their ads and onwards build more equitable and attractive workplaces. Women – particularly working mothers and caregivers – are inevitably dropping out of the workforce and are more likely to lose their jobs than men. Gender parity is a determining factor in deciding the next move for 63% of employees and candidates surveyed by Michael Page, just ahead of flexible working hours (61%). Hybrid and remote work models are also viewed positively, and can attract talented candidates who, say, cannot afford to relocate, or who must stay within their catchment area.

Faced with ongoing uncertainty, hiring managers must also think several moves ahead and predict the skills they may need in the future. Companies and candidates often home in on high-end digital skills, but soft skills are proving to be the Swiss army knife of the next normal, EQ is as vital as IQ, and smart leaders are also hiring candidates who excel in problem-solving, coordination, conflict resolution and resilience – skills we’ll all need in our back pocket as we move from this normal to the next.

Key takeaways:

Attracting top candidates requires a transparent, people-first, unbiased approach. Successful rebuilding, restoring and refocusing depends on leaders, candidates and hiring managers being willing and welcomed to actively engage in the transformation.

  • In the era of digital transformation trust between companies and employees must be built from day one and requires transparency to prevent disappointment on either side.
  • Operational sustainability and employee wellbeing are two sides of the same coin. Candidates beeline for companies that prioritize wellbeing, respond to their concerns and offer opportunities for professional development.
  • Fostering diversity and inclusion paves the way to building an enriched, progressive company culture that can survive and thrive no matter what lies around the corner

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