Talent management in a hybrid world

With the way we work changing, the approach to hiring and holding on to skilled staff needs to change too. Colin D. Ellis looks at how global companies have done this, and explains the steps your business can take to ensure you retain top talent

Talent management in a hybrid world

 One of the biggest issues HR departments have faced is the ability to attract and retain emotionally intelligent, skilled people – the types of employees who will not only deliver great service and results but also contribute positively to the evolving culture of a business. Hybrid working has shifted how talent is recruited forever.

According to Microsoft, only 15% of organisations had policies that encouraged flexible working pre-COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, that percentage has quintupled to 76% as organisations realise that hybrid working is now expected by employees. The days of full-time, office-based work are a thing of the past, and talented people can now market themselves on a global job board. In the face of this, organisations will have to work harder than they have ever done before to manage and keep hold of them.

Employees are on the lookout for opportunities to move and take advantage of these new conditions right now. According to one US report, a quarter of people will be looking for a new job post-pandemic, while almost half will look to leave their current employer if it doesn’t off er a hybrid working approach.

And into this equation will come forward-thinking organisations that have realised they have an opportunity to build a hybrid working culture and approach that offers a competitive advantage, attracting skilled people from around the world. Sydney-based technology organisation Atlassian is one example.

Prior to 2020, Atlassian had relied heavily on being able to employ highly skilled people from around the world and help them relocate to Australia. The pandemic (and Australia’s immigration rules) meant they had to rethink their approach.

In 2021 the company implemented a ‘Team Anywhere’ approach to transition to a fully distributed workforce. This approach has three elements:

  • Work flexibly: Working with managers and teammates to determine where and how work needs to get done and establishing the routines and habits to ensure that it is
  • Re-imagine teamwork: Rethinking how teams interact and the tools used to help them do so, virtually and in person (when restrictions allow)
  • Talent everywhere: Establishing global talent pods to actively search for diverse, talented people to contribute to culture and results

By implementing this approach, not only can Atlassian tap into a richer pool of talent but it is also improving the productivity and effectiveness of its teams by giving them the opportunity to choose how, when and where to do their work.

Atlassian is just one example, and there will be many others too, so HR managers cannot afford to be complacent. They will need to lift their talent management game, ensuring they have an approach that is attractive to potential candidates, technology that supports collaboration, and a culture worth belonging to.

Immediate things to consider to ensure talented people are retained:

  • Culture development: Culture is, and always will be, the number one determinant of team and organisational success. HR managers should ensure that culture redefinition work is planned for this year and beyond, because ‘the ways we do things around here’ has changed significantly in the last 12 months.
  • Hybrid working policy: Many senior managers are playing a waiting game rather than acting proactively in implementing a hybrid working approach. Talented people aren’t going to wait around to see what happens; decisions need to be made and communicated clearly.
  • Onboarding: Having taken the time to hire people, and assuming that a return to the office isn’t imminent, HR managers need to take an innovative approach to onboarding to ensure that experiences of new staff not only meet expectations but exceed them and set them up for success.
  • Technology: It’s not enough to have implemented Microsoft Teams and changed your background to a virtual one. Consideration must be given to investing in tools that can contribute to collaboration, as well as training programs that show staff how to use them productively.
  • Support for home costs: The average cost of setting up a home workspace is $660, and this is necessary to ensure that a productive working environment exists and staff adhere to health and wellbeing policies. HR managers need to decide how much support is given to staff to be able to do this.

The expectations of employees have changed significantly since the beginning of the pandemic, and HR managers need to respond swiftly to ensure they retain the very people they need for their businesses to be successful now and throughout future crises.

Colin D. Ellis is bestselling author of The Hybrid Handbook: How to Set Yourself Up for the Future of Work and helps organisations around the world transform their working cultures.