The Creative Organization

The talent landscape has shifted dramatically, and the COVID-19 pandemic is not the only thing that created this shift. No doubt, the art of attracting and keeping the best talent is highly challenging these days; however, there were signs it was already changing prior to the pandemic, and many experts believe the pandemic has only sped up that change. The bottom line is organizations must adapt to remain competitive.

We have identified four key aspects to consider as part of a change strategy for attracting talent:

  1. Creative Recruitment.

The ability to change and adapt strategies to attract talent is not anything new; for example, Boeing began recruiting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) students from high-schools to gain a step on college recruiters; Microsoft recruited talented U.S.-trained engineers from India into a Vancouver office because Canadian employment regulations were more favorable than U.S. immigration rules; and Hewlett-Packard recruited foreign language students during the late 1990s, as these students had a similar mindset to Management Information System (MIS) students who commanded more attention and higher starting salaries as the time. Applying creative solutions can lead to incredible results.

 ACTION: Ask yourself where potential untapped employee segments are for your industry. High schools? Colleges? Retirees? Maybe even your own alumni? What are the benefits and risks of each segment? How can your organization position itself to attract more talent into your pipeline?

  1. Creative Incentives.

It is no secret that attracting top talent can involve including incentives that go beyond money. For example, some organizations today make conditional offers to pay off student loans – with an eye toward retention. “Outside-of-the-box” attraction incentives can sometimes benefit the organization, as there may have state and/or federal tax benefits. More expansive bonus and sign-on bonus incentives, enhanced learning or promotional opportunities, and increased job scope are other examples of how organizations now attract top talent.

 ASK YOURSELF: What’s the most creative hiring incentive your organization uses? Can it be leveraged to support other roles or segments of your employee population? What are your competitors doing? What can you offer to leap-frog their efforts?

  1. Creative Working Arrangements.

Although the pandemic has enforced the need for many to work from home, many organizations were already offering flexible working arrangements and schedules. Many employees have embraced the pandemic shift of “work-life balance,” as they experienced the convenience of being able to balance their busy schedules and feeling they have more control over their lives. Organizations that show empathy and trust in their employees will gain that discretionary effort that separates the average organizations from the truly innovative and progressive ones. Creative working arrangements can be a powerful differentiator for current and potential employees in a tight labor market.

 ACTION: If your organization hasn’t yet readied your people managers to have conversations with employees about go-forward work arrangements, align your communication and training so managers feel confident to have empathetic conversations with their team members about work location plans.

  1. Creative Employee Value Proposition (EVP).

As employers reconsider their Employee Value Propositions (EVP), the elements that used to resonate with employees have shifted. People want to work in flexible working conditions, have the freedom to choose when and how they work, and truly feel the organization cares about them as people. Organizations that embrace a diverse and fair workforce and show they authentically care about their employees as people will position themselves as employers of choice.

 ASK YOURSELF: What are you and your organization doing to creatively value each employee during these turbulent times? Does each employee have a sense of belonging to both your organization and their work team? What more can be done – and how soon?

To embrace the new world of work, organizations will need to develop new thinking for acquiring talent, be agile in the benefits they offer, be creative in the manner they offer incentives, and treat employees as people first/employee second. As the corporate landscape has experienced seismic shifts, and not just because of the pandemic, the organization must adopt new strategies to attract and keep the best talent.