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Working the Future

Our future of work blog 

10/06/2019, 11:50


 Letting workers go with grace, humility and civility is a powerful weapon in the ongoing war for talent. We’ve entered a new age of the boomerang employee...

More and more UK businesses are experiencing the twinchallenges of recruitment and retention. Finding, and then retaining, the rightpeople with the right attitude and skills to help grow a business has neverbeen more critical. We hear this every week in our C-suite conversations, and it’salso reflected in the business press. A recentIBM report on recruiting stated: 

"By 2020 the talent shortage in the US alone is projected tobe around 23M employees. This is not simply a human resource issue. It’s anissue already vexing the C-suite, as 60% of execs struggle to keep workforceskills current and relevant in the face of rapid tech advancement". 

In the UK, two key areas of increasing skills shortage are technologyand cyber security.  Even if our academicsystem was able to deliver young adults with the right technological baselineof skills tomorrow, the organisational ability to foretell which mix of skillswill be needed and for how long, will continue to confound many. 

At a foundational level, we know the future of work is digital,and we also know it’s deeply human. Figuring out the sub-text is the hard part.All too often, the prevailing narrative that surrounds the business landscapeis technology-centric, and the human opportunity is left significantlyunderstated. 

It’s likely that skills shortages in niche areas willcontinue, particularly with the emergence of ’hybrid jobs’; the pairing ofskill-sets in ways unseen previously. It’s therefore vital that employers holdonto valued top talent; the sunk cost of losing both skills and organisationalknowledge simply can’t be ignored. 

But why is the pace of staff turnover accelerating? 
Modern workforces are expressing a desire for more freedom, flexibility,and choice at work, a work environment that provides continuous development andlearning opportunity, and critically, a sense of connection and belonging.That’s a massively tall order for most organisations, who are still using 20thCentury thinking when it comes to workforce planning. 

Socio-culturally, the last decade has seen a significantshift away from a ’job for life’ mindset, towards a more short-term view of identifyingwork opportunities that can deliver meaning, development and growth. Quitesimply, the UK workforce is becoming far more individualistic in outlook, andmore comfortable with moving on as soon as the job opportunity ceases todeliver perceived ’value’. 

As it adjusts to meet the needs of the 21stCentury workforce, one of the simplest things that any modern business can doto build organisational resilience, is to accept that a permanent jobopportunity no longer necessarily correlates with long-term. 

If continuous turnover is the new normal, what can be done to avoidlosing key talent? 
One super-effective approach is to leave the door open for exitingworkers to return.

This makes perfect sense. From here on in, the opportunitiesthat entice skilled workers are far more likely to be project-based, andemployers it will find it increasingly challenging to provide continuouslyengaging assignments. Such is the increasingly fluid nature of work. 

As workforces become more flexible, we will see impermanent workteams coming together on a temporary basis to deliver value, then disbandingonce that deliverable is executed. We should extend good grace and intenttowards departing workers, irrespective of employment status. 

Keeping track of workers who’ve added value will become acritical asset for any business; keeping in touch with workers who’ve developedorganisational knowledge, and who’ve delivered good work, ensures fasterramp-up time when the next opportunity presents. 

Welcome to the world of off-boarding 
Letting workers go with grace, humility and civility is apowerful weapon in the ongoing war for talent. We’ve entered a new age of theboomerang employee. 

By creating an off-boarding strategy that is respectful and inclusive,exiting co-workers can be invited - and are far more likely to accept thatinvitation - back into the organisation to deliver value at a later date. Furthermore,when treated with respect and dignity, both throughout the ’employeeexperience’ and into the off-boarding stage, departing workers are far morelikely to act as strong advocates for an employer’s brand, and recommend abusiness to their peers and contact network.

Some organisations are already seeing the value in buildingan alumni network that transcends the social benefit of former colleaguesstaying in touch. Powerful alumni networks enable the organisation to dip inand out of talent, creating a truly fluid and flexible 21st Centurytalent-ecosystem. 

Successful and resilient organisations of the future will befluid and agile, meeting emergent customer needs as they arise. Key toorganisational fluidity is workforce flexibility. A robust off-boarding strategyis an excellent starting point. 

If you’d like to discuss an off-boarding strategy with us,please do get in touchtoday.

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