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Keeping Valuable Talent by Keeping Up With the Times

We all know and acknowledge that the world changes quickly and time does not stop for anyone. So why has the workforce been an exception to that rule?

American workers have felt their companies stay stuck in the 20th Century, using outdated ideas, processes, and strategies that no longer work effectively in today’s society, one that boasts new needs and a need for strong change. It has been almost exactly a year and a half since the beginnings of the pandemic put everyone in the world’s lives on hold. Companies shut down overnight and the effects that this lack of job availability and company shut downs had on the workforce are still trickling in, even eighteen months later. One of the greatest outcomes from the pandemic has been the reevaluation of talent management, retention, and recruitment across all industries. Work from home and the rethinking and changing of priorities has caused employees to alter their wants and desires and has pushed employers to reevaluate their requirements and policies, as well. Hours, working in or out of office, vaccine mandates, and other aftermath topics that evolved out of Covid-19 restrictions or alterations are at the forefront of this changing workplace society and has kicked this workplace revolution info full gear.

In the Harvard Business Review IdeaCast Episode 817, “How the Pandemic Changed Talent Management (Back to Work, Better)”, Alison Beard sits down with CEO and President of the Society for Human Resource Management, Johnny C. Taylor Jr., where he offers his insight on how a global crisis taught leaders the importance of identifying and uplifting company culture to find successful talent that does not necessarily focus on the paper qualifications that recruiters might have solely used in the past. He also shares research on several trends that are predicted to continue to accelerate in the near future as leaders around the globe are still trying to identify what their “new normals” are.

“[For many organizations’ leaders,] [t]heir default space is where they have to start a culture discussion, because they’ll call me, ‘Johnny, should we mandate a vaccine? Should we mandate people coming to work a certain number of days? What’s the right number?’ They ask all sorts of questions, and I said, ‘Stop, you [are] jumping right now into the activity."

"Let’s step back, and ask yourself. You, Mr. or Mrs. CEO, along with your executive team, who do you want to be? What kind of employees do you want to attract and retain? What’s your employer brand? What is it now, and more importantly, what do you aspire for it to be?’” --Johnny C. Taylor Jr.

The notion of creating policies related to a company’s culture instead of immediately focusing on the activity in question is new for many organizations. Some companies may be traditionalists, where they are hesitant to change their policies and are unsure of making changes using a different and new process than in the past. Other companies might already have a strong company culture that is outwardly projected to their employees and to their customers around the world, but they may not actively use that culture to make new decisions and develop plans for their business.

The idea that an organization can use their culture and their values to make better hiring decisions is something that the pandemic has surely highlighted. The idea of “covid clarity” not only affects potential employees that are searching for work, but it just as strongly affects employers and recruiters who are trying to find great matches for their open positions. Lately, those 'We're Hiring' signs seem to be bringing in the applications, but those applications are not playing matchmaker as well as they could be. Workers are finding that it will benefit them in the long run to find companies that fit their personal values and culture, just as companies will find it valuable to hire people who hold the missing piece to their company culture puzzle.

"We could absolutely learn from the rest of the world. There are a lot of things that we need to revisit...Top of the list is not top of your class. Its creativity, adaptability, the ability to work with others and teams, and collaborate. These are now the things that are far more important, and so we’ve got to innovate." -- Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.

The culture of many businesses Is changing rapidly, with a strong push from a crisis that took over the global workforce as we knew it. There is more emphasis on positive change and creativity, and a dedication to creating more autonomy for workers through caring about what their wants and needs are.

Businesses should accept what the pandemic did and utilize it to their benefit. Turn lemons into lemonade, as they say. Use the progressive nature of the last eighteen months to move your business from outdated to modern. Looking for a company that offers an enriching environment and experiences to go with it is what the workforce is shifting towards, and companies should fully embrace that trend to find the best and most successful workers for their business. Strong company culture is not just an employee perk anymore, it is now a requirement for happy people and successful retention.

Time will never stop moving and as the years pass, it seems to get faster and faster. Americans spend most of their lives at work and it is time that work is not just a place that one is forced to be at. Make work meaningful, make work fun, and make the work you do important.


Jennifer Casalino is a Graduate Assistant in the Graduate Programs in Human Resource Development at Villanova and also student in the program. Connect with her on LinkedIn!

Listen to the full Harvard Business Review IdeaCast Podcast here.


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