The ‘Great Reshuffle’ has led employees, regardless of skill or seniority, to start questioning their roles in the workplace and in society. With this comes increasing challenges in attracting and retaining talent, and a core task for all HR leaders is to understand what employees are looking for and deliver without delay, argues Blandine Kouyaté.


Offering employees the right experience

Finding and maintaining high levels of skilled employees to future-proof business innovation comes with many difficulties. If anything, the last couple of years have taught us that workplaces must be both comfortable and inspiring. It’s essential that managers keep learning how to pursue proactive conversations with their teams, enabling them to implement the appropriate actions that help meet their expectations.

The importance of the employee experience, especially in fast-paced environments, is rising. Businesses should focus on developing world-class company cultures that employees are engaged with and proud to be part of, enabling them to thrive and be more creative. These must form the core values of any company that is seeking to attract and retain its pool of talents.

Looking after individuals’ mental health is also of the utmost importance. Seeing through the month of May – mental awareness month – these initiatives should be even more of a priority. There could be no better time for companies to introduce rewarding and supporting initiatives, such as setting up well-being platforms, organising local wellness events, raising awareness about key topics or collecting funds for mental health organisations.


Recognising differences and being flexible

Although many companies are more attuned to how they can build attractive work cultures to drive a more solid workforce, the attraction and retention rates of different types of talent vary.

For example, one could look at the differences in attracting and retaining engineers and developers for tech companies, based on very specific requirements when it comes to their working environment and overall higher referral rates. Companies need to be quick to recognise every potential difference when it comes to employees’ expectations and endeavour to tailor the right conditions, such as building an environment and culture that will enable them to do what they like the most in their role. No company can afford constant churn rates in any position, and HR departments should therefore extend the same level of consideration throughout the organisation.

Businesses must also be sympathetic to habits employees got used to over lockdown, understanding that, for many, working solely from the office is now outdated. Realising the benefits of flexibility and trusting employees to work from home will not only give them a much-appreciated sense of control over their day-to-day, but most likely contribute to having a more productive workforce. The people dimension of businesses continues to need proper ongoing investment and implementing flexible policies will help companies attract and retain vital talent.


Keeping values close, and integrity closer

Both diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), as well as environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives are now no longer just a ‘nice thing to have’ – they are the bare minimum. Those companies that are leaders in their respective industries understand the importance of their social status and follow through on all commitments. This means actually solidifying true business purpose by focusing on fostering better social images to not only keep employees aligned with company values, but also hold each other accountable when tackling major social issues, from the likes of gender and pay parity to hiring for diversity on all levels of seniority.

Many social pioneers in business will also capitalise on their own assets to offer meaningful visibility to worthy causes like International Women’s Day or Black History Month. And while context is key, companies will need to find a balance between trendy, meaningful campaigns vs what makes sense for the organisation at a particular moment in time.

The current climate conversation has also put weight on industry players to work towards achieving key environmental goals. Many leaders can easily set an example for others to follow, for example by signing the Climate Pledge. If those in charge make this a priority, employees in turn will also feel they are contributing to something bigger and be more inclined to stay with a company that has strong values. Additionally, as younger and more sustainability-conscious employees enter the workforce, ESG commitments have become one of the most invaluable recruiting factors.


The future of work

Undeniably, most workplaces are going through significant changes at high speeds, affecting how employees make decisions and what they see as fulfilling work. Talents are shifting their “why” and “what for” in life, and companies have to find ways to provide what they’re looking for. This requires HR teams and business leaders to look at reconciling employee expectations with true business reality, encompassing everything from flexible working to staying committed to ESG policies.


Blandine Kouyaté is Chief People Officer at Ogury.