Retention Is Critical During Economic Uncertainty

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HR leaders are focused on how to maintain and develop staff as the economy remains volatile, says Linda Ho, chief people officer at Seismic.

Layoff reports may fill the news, but in this era of economic uncertainty, winning the war for talent remains critical for any organization, says Linda Ho, chief people officer at Seismic in San Diego, which provides enablement technology for sales professionals.

Ho spoke with StrategicCHRO360 about what job candidates and employees care about most, why upskilling is critical and the benefits of greater efficiencies.

What is top of mind for people management and HR professionals in the current economic environment?

Amidst today’s economic climate, businesses are hyper-focused on maximizing operational efficiencies while minimizing costs. And while there are plenty of layoff reports in the news, the job reports show a sustained labor market which means retention continues to be a top concern.

People management and HR professionals in particular, are shifting to focus on upskilling their existing workforce, which also happens to be a top retention lever. 

As teams continue to navigate talent gaps, how can businesses help streamline their internal systems and optimize employee output?

A key component of optimizing output is enabling efficiency. The more time an employee saves on lower-value work—like searching their intranet for content they need for a meeting, or manually updating documents that could otherwise be automated—the more time they have to be productive in other aspects of their job.

On the flip side, those who don’t use technology to automate their workflows report wasted time and reduced productivity. They end up spending countless hours each week tracking down content and making revisions, which ultimately has a negative impact on the customer experience.

By investing in the right tech, businesses are investing in their employees’ happiness and job satisfaction, which results in increased retention and optimized output.

With so much talent on the move, what are job seekers prioritizing in this tumultuous labor market?

Flexibility tops many candidates’ wish list. During the pandemic, many workers were able to achieve a work-life balance that wasn’t possible when they were commuting every day and confined to their office desk 40-plus hours a week.

From offering a hybrid or remote work environment to allowing employees to work non-traditional hours to offering flexible time off, companies need to be innovative and amenable when it comes to how their employees work. Flexibility also allows employers to expand the labor pool that they recruit from, thereby enhancing their ability to achieve DEI goals.

Another item that tops job seekers’ lists is professional development and training opportunities. The rapid digitalization in the workforce has driven CEOs and CHROs to pursue learning and development programs to upskill and reskill employees as quickly and effectively as possible—especially as a Gartner study found that 70 percent of employees report they don’t have mastery of the required skills for their job.

Learning opportunities are not only important in ensuring employees are effective at what they do and how they grow their careers, they also influence how employees feel about their jobs, their organizations and whether they decide to stay at those organizations.

What immediate actions can businesses take to better support employees during times of economic uncertainty?

A recent article from Forrester stated that employee experience is the sum of all the perceptions that employees have while working for your organization every day. You can increase employee experience by exercising empathy, granting employees appropriate autonomy and giving them the tools to succeed.

Along with providing employees with the tools to succeed autonomously, it’s equally important to ensure employees are fulfilled by their jobs. The reality is, if employees are stuck doing menial, repetitive tasks all day long, they’ll likely grow bored and move on quickly. But by empowering them with the right tools to streamline workflows, they’ll have the opportunity to focus on larger, priority items that will actually move the needle for your business.

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