It's hard to ignore the number of factors that have impacted talent this year. From Covid-19 variants delaying return-to-office plans to employee movement and resignation, the talent industry is rapidly changing. In some instances, business leaders are struggling to keep up.
Heading into 2022, one thing is clear: Companies need to put their talent first. The third edition of the Beamery 2021 Talent Index has revealed timely insights into what over 5,000 employees in the U.S. and U.K. really want. But is your organization listening?
Here are four ways leaders can better prioritize employees in the new year:
1. Lead with empathy
Remote working provides greater flexibility, yet according to the Talent Index, two-thirds (65 percent) said working remotely added pressure to work while sick. What's worse, one in four think sick days are becoming a thing of the past.
Sick days are critical to reducing the amount of productivity that's lost (averaging up to 20 percent) when employees work while feeling under the weather, according to a study by the National Partnership for Women & Families. Leaders should therefore take more responsibility to be on the lookout for employees who are working when they appear to be run down, rather than creating a culture in which they feel they must continue working regardless.
Abakar Saidov, co-founder and CEO at Beamery, says: "Employees work best when they are productive, and the highest-performing employees are those who feel supported by their company, especially when it comes to their mental and physical health."
2. Keep up face time (even while remote)
While videoconferencing lets us "see" one another, it may not be enough to foster the same relationships employees were building with their supervisors when they were meeting in person. Half of the respondents to the Talent Index in the U.S. believed a lack of one-to-one time with their employer actually hindered their promotion opportunities in the past year.
Leaders should make it a priority to meet with their team to discuss career path goals and growth opportunities, suggests Saidov. "By mapping out their future, employees will better visualize what they need to do to secure a promotion, [achieve] key milestones, and [ask] for developmental support."
3. Maintain open lines of communication with former employees
Employees may move on from a company, but it doesn't mean they're gone forever. In fact, younger employees are most likely to become the "boomerang" generation. To that point, 80 percent of Gen-Z respondents are interested in keeping the lines of communication open with their current employer should they decide to leave. This strategy makes sense; job openings jumped to more than 11 million in October, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, meaning people are still seeking opportunities and employers should leverage this opportunity to hire back former talent.
Saidov recommends that employers look at employees through the lens of the customer life cycle, and set up touch points with them even after they have moved on. By keeping multiple doors of opportunity open and establishing robust and valued alumni networks, leaders will increase their chances of workers returning.
4. Adopt the asynchronous workweek
If the pandemic has proved anything, it's that people have figured out how to make the workday work for them. This includes greater flexibility; when asked which things they want their employer to introduce, the most popular responses were flextime (38 percent) and a four-day workweek (37 percent).
"The asynchronous workweek is becoming the new norm where employees are given the freedom to do their work on their own schedules," says Saidov. "Allowing employees to tailor their schedules around priorities such as child care and appointments, while trusting them to get their work done, helps increase company culture and employee morale."
Asking and learning what employees want to see happen most in the workplace is the first step toward addressing their needs. By prioritizing better benefits and flexibility, leaders can ensure their workers are feeling like they are being heard in 2022. This will lead to greater talent retention, cross-team productivity, and a better workplace environment.