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Averbook: We’re waging war for our own talent

By: | September 25, 2020 • 3 min read
Jason Averbook is HRE’s People Side of Digital columnist. Averbook is a leading analyst, thought leader and consultant in the area of HR, the future of work and the impact technology has on that future. He is the co-founder and CEO of Leapgen, a global consultancy helping organizations shape their future workplace by broadening executive mindset to rethink how to better design and deliver employee services that meet the expectations of the workforce and the needs of the business. He can be emailed at hreletters@lrp.com.

Planning for work in 2021 should focus on one thing: the safety and care of your people, with workforce experience a top initiative as you plan investments and strategies for the coming year. Of course, there are other priorities, all of them tied to an overarching business strategy that ensures your organization can achieve its objectives. But if the workforce doesn’t feel fully empowered to deliver on those objectives, they will be for naught.

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How can companies and people be productive in the “Now of Work”? How can companies stay nimble and still pay mind to strategic workforce planning? It’s hard to replace strategies and roadmaps that used to look three to five years out with strategies that are changing, agile and near-real-time. It’s like switching from fold-out paper maps to GPS overnight. Flexibility, adaptability and real-time navigation are the new modus operandi.

Related: Hear more from Jason Averbook during his virtual HR Tech Conference keynote, “Writing the New Book of Work.”

You stay both nimble and productive by focusing on your people and what they need now. There’s no war for talent in the sense of supply and demand. The war is what you do with your talent. It’s not about counting heads; it’s about making heads count. So how do we wage war for our own talent? We do it by building careers, by thinking about the progression of people who want to grow and continue to add new value to the business, by building a culture of trust and inclusion, and by getting rid of once-per-year performance review and engagement surveys in favor of a better pulse and action plan for what’s happening right now.

The war is not for talent. The war is to take action on the talent you have in order to stay competitive, nimble and moving forward.

Connected vs. Connection

You wage war for your own talent by investing in experience—workforce experience. I’m not talking about a user interface; that doesn’t create experience. Experience is created when you focus on an interaction, not a transaction. It happens when you build connection, not settle for connecting alone.

See also: 5 ways this company is doing employee experience right

Building connection versus simply connecting people isn’t a new challenge or, rather, it shouldn’t be. It has always been the case that we need to invest in an employment relationship that’s more than an employment contract; that we need to consciously invest in truly knowing a person; that we would do well to capitalize on moments that matter and to build special and relatable experiences with and for them. This intentional effort in creating an authentic relationship with people that does more than going through the motions has always paid off in spades. When people feel connected to their work and each other, when they understand how their contributions make a difference for the organization and when they feel a sense of connection to the organization’s values and mission, they will feel safe, loyal and cared for. And they will create that same connection with your customers.

Trust, compassion, empathy and communication are critical in creating a sense of psychological and physical safety when it comes to work. How you treated your people—whether retaining them and transitioning them to a new, distributed work model or whether reducing workforce by laying off or furloughing—will be your employer brand post-pandemic. Like it or not.

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Simply put, it’s more important than ever to build empathetic, compassionate connections when people are feeling isolated or disconnected and to create a sense of safety in all aspects: physical, financial, psychological and emotional. What people need when it comes to workforce experience has never been more basic and more critical: They need security, comfort and care, and employers, led by HR, can provide that through communication that strives to build true connection.

Click here to learn about the 7 must-haves for a communication manifesto, and don’t forget to register for the upcoming HR Technology Conference Oct. 27-30, a reimagined online event not to miss.

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