Finding Talent in a Post-COVID World
Retaining and recruiting valuable employees becomes even more challenging
Jennifer Wheatley, M.A., SHRM-SCP, SPHR
Recruiting and retaining talent is not a new challenge for employers; in fact, it has been a top concern for business leaders for the past several years. Even in January 2020, before the pandemic fully hit the US, a global survey found that company heads and C-suite executives cited attracting and retaining talent as their top internal concern.1 Now, as we begin to emerge from this pandemic, the concern for attracting and retaining talent will become even more significant, and dental laboratories will be no exception-in fact, it may be even more difficult for them. Between changing attitudes in the workforce and many skilled laboratory technicians approaching retirement age, finding talent will continue to challenge laboratories.
According to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) article, a "turnover tsunami" is expected once we are behind the pandemic and studies indicate that as many as half of workers intend to look for a new job.2Wow! Imagine if 50% of your current workforce left this year. Could you continue to operate? Could you replace the knowledge and talent that exited? Perhaps, but it would certainly be difficult and likely costly to your organization. There are many statistics on the cost of turnover, but even if we estimate conservatively at $15,000 per person, think about the financial impact.
The need to retain your talent is critical and the challenge will be even greater as we emerge from this pandemic. Many reasons are leading to this talent shortage, including more competition and options for employees, but what seems to have become apparent is that the pandemic has allowed employees the opportunity to take the time to re-evaluate their priorities. Employees desire an optimal work experience, which, of course, includes competitive wages and benefits, but that is just the foundation. They are also seeking a position that provides the ultimate quality of life. What does that include? Employees have different needs, but a few areas are at the top of the list.
Flexibility continues to emerge as a critical need for employees. Balancing childcare needs, taking care of family members, and focusing on one's own health and wellness, employees want a job that allows them to integrate work and personal needs. Building flexibility into your laboratory will be critical. Analyze your future employment needs. Can you offer more flexibility in schedules or offer more part-time work?
Employees want their employers to keep them challenged and offer them the ability to grow. If an employer cannot provide this, the employees will seek those challenges elsewhere. Laboratories should focus on upskilling their workforce. You should evaluate the skills of your current workforce and look to implement internal training programs to develop the skills within and provide career progression.
Employees want to know that their employer cares about them. Having a culture that focuses on employee wellbeing will be key. You should evaluate what support you are providing to your employees, including support for physical and mental health as well as financial health. The Harvard Business Review reports that "employers that support employees with their life experience see a 23% increase in the number of employees reporting better mental health and a 17% increase in the number of employees reporting better physical health. There is also a real benefit to employers, who see a 21% increase in the number of high performers compared to organizations that don't provide the same degree of support to their employees."3
Your reputation as an employer will become more important as you look to attract new talent. Employees want to ensure that their personal values align with the values of their employers. Employees need to feel proud of the organization for which they work. According to Tony Waterson, Executive Director of Southern Indiana Works and WorkOne Southern Indiana, "Jobseekers consider the reputation of a company as an employer prior to applying for a job and are interested in company culture, environment, and values. Your ability to recruit for skilled talent will depend highly on the ability to communicate and promote your company culture."
Adapting to Change
As employers, it is important to understand the need to shift from an employee experience mentality to a life experience mindset. What type of "life experience" are you providing to your employees? Many things will be different in the workforce as the pandemic crisis subsides. Right now, it is important for laboratory owners to consider how those changes will affect your laboratory and how you should respond. It is also critical to consider how employees' lives have changed and what opportunities exist. In doing so, laboratories can identify ways to improve, provide your employees what they need, and position the business for success post-pandemic.
1. Bolden-Barrett V. Talent shortages, recession concerns top CEOs' 2020 worries. HR Dive. https://www.hrdive.com/news/talent-shortages-recession-concerns-top-ceos-2020-worries/569740/. Published January 3, 2020. Accessed June 24, 2021.
2. Maurer R. Turnover ‘Tsunami' Expected Once Pandemic Ends. Society for Human Resource Management. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/turnover-tsunami-expected-once-pandemic-ends.aspx. Published March 12, 2021. Accessed June 24, 2021.
3. Kropp B. 9 Trends That Will Shape Work in 2021 and Beyond. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2021/01/9-trends-that-will-shape-work-in-2021-and-beyond. Published January 14, 2021. Accessed June 24, 2021.
4. Waterston T. Covid Impact Hiring and Retention Strategies for 2021 and Beyond. One Southern Indiana. https://1si.org/covid-impact-hiring-and-retention-strategies-for-2021-and-beyond/. Published December 30, 2020. Accessed June 24, 2021.