To Attract And Retain Talent, Make Them Feel Supported

Shawn Gibson, senior director, HR operations at Info-Tech
Employee expectations have shifted in a way unlikely to change anytime soon, says Shawn Gibson, senior director, HR operations at Info-Tech. Here’s how to meet them.

Keeping key talent today requires a wider view on compensation, involving everything from financial incentives to mental health offerings to a change in how leadership interacts with talent, says Shawn Gibson, senior director, HR operations at Info-Tech Research Group based in London, Ontario, Canada.

Gibson spoke with StrategicCHRO360 about what works at his organization, why follow-through on promises is critical and the importance of work/life balance.

How has the talent shortage changed the way we approach HR operations?

The main way that the talent shortage has changed HR operations is in how HR approaches compensation. Though salaries have become more competitive, for prospective talent, compensation is now more than just their take-home pay. 

Compensation is focused on benefits like PTO, retirement plans, wellness plans and good insurance. It’s also about how managers are treated, how the organization encourages managers to care about employees, how employees feel working with their managers, the work they do and company culture.

How can HR departments help their organization compete for good talent in this environment?

To compete for talent in today’s workforce, there’s more pressure from the market to compensate talent competitively. At Info-Tech Research Group, we started matching contributions to workers’ retirement savings plans and we also increased the amount of their vacation time. With Gen Z entering the workforce, there is also more of a focus on work/life balance and mental health. Many employers are offering mental health days, encouraging employees to log off on time and really emphasizing positive company culture.

If using these mental health-related offerings to attract talent, it’s crucial to follow through with them. If new employees feel tricked into taking a position based on empty promises of excellent company culture, it will lead to resentment and, often, resignations.

How have hybrid and remote work environments changed the HR landscape?

With many executives fighting for employees to return to the office, HR leaders are struggling to convince non-HR executives that hybrid/work from home models can work for their organizations. Non-HR executives are often not involved in receiving feedback from employees, so they do not understand that people are prioritizing finding meaning in their work, valuing work-life balance and requesting more flexibility with hours and work locations. HR leaders must find ways to navigate the conflicts between non-HR executives and employees about hybrid work/remote work policies.

What advice do you have for HR leaders that are struggling to keep up with hybrid and remote work environments?

Keep in mind that there has been a shift from in-office amenities appeal to focusing on how managers treat employees and whether employees feel like their work matters and are engaged with it. It’s important to have someone who is going to train managers to treat employees with respect like a director of learning and development. Organizations should consider adding roles focused on supporting intangible elements of engagement.

In a remote work environment, career coaching is more important than ever to help new hires learn to navigate the company, the corporate world and feel supported by managers and connected with their job. Companies need to build out a robust onboarding experience to improve how these employees are managed.