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Balancing The Corporate And People Agendas

November 2021
Jan-Bart Smits
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Lessons learned and a recipe for future success

As we (hopefully) near the tail-end of the pandemic, the “great resignation” has impacted businesses of all sizes. For as long as I can remember, the global talent market ebbs and flows, inverting the hiring dynamic typically referred to as a candidate-driven or employer-driven labor market.

As Partners and Consultants, we carefully listen to our clients and candidates to develop a real-time view of the talent market. We then collect and discuss our findings to advise our clients on how best to attract top talent in the highly competitive candidate-driven labor market we are experiencing today.

In my previous article titled “Why People And Purpose Matter At Stanton Chase,” I focused on how we have cared for each other and those around us. Conversely, in this article, I’d like to take a closer look at how businesses are now rebounding, specifically concerning the people agenda.

Candidates are more likely to choose a new position based on cultural alignment with ESG principles.

When considering a new opportunity, candidates now integrate ESG into their (prospective) company scorecard. It is advantageous for an employer to showcase and demonstrate its commitment to ESG principles, especially when aligned with its company culture and values.

There must be genuine support and understanding from management.

Professionals have families of all shapes and sizes that need more support than ever before. Thus employers need to cultivate an understanding that each family faces different challenges and needs no explanation when requesting time away or other support internally. Sophisticated leadership should be trusting and flexible, which also aids in building a bond with each team member that could be a factor in his/her “stickiness” to their current firm or openness to making a move to a more considerate company.

The right culture and values result in success.

Every professional group has rules – written or unwritten – for how new members are to be accepted and respected. Diversity, equality, and inclusion are no longer emerging topics for our clients, but embedding these values in company culture top-down is a new priority. Including all views makes business sense, and candidates can see this.

CHROs can find themselves alone without the material support of the business.

A company’s human capital is its most valuable asset, with the people agenda driven by a CHRO/HR Director. Among the many tasks of a CHRO is finding ways to minimize costs, increase productivity, and leverage human resources in any way possible to achieve these goals. Today, CHROs and their teams are relied upon as partners to other leaders in the business and should receive their support and respect. Candidates sense and observe how a company treats others in their organization and can be a weathervane on what they can expect after joining the firm.

When considering these trends either together or individually, how could a modern company ever downplay the importance of people over their products and services?

Finding a long-term balance

So far, we have addressed the immediate actions that should be at the forefront of every business leader’s priorities. However, I strongly believe in a sustainable way of dealing with the balance between employer and employee in the long term. A business will benefit by not exploiting its power over employees during a period of employer-driven labor markets. Mutual goodwill is created by finding a constant balance between the company’s interests and its employees’ wellbeing. A fundamental and straightforward agreement exists whereby the company pledges to support employees when jobs are scarce, and in exchange employees vow to be loyal and supportive of the company in times when the labor market is in their favor.

This may seem a bit idealistic, and it is. It is all about seeking out and embracing this balance to understand that people and companies genuinely need each other. That is how I also build my long-term relationships with my clients.

About the Author:

Jan-Bart Smits is the International Chair of Stanton Chase.

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