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​Do we need a new approach to talent in a hybrid world?

​The term “War for Talent” was coined by a McKinsey & Company study in 1997 and refers to the ever increasing competition when it comes to recruiting and retaining talented employees. The study, later published in a book, suggests that the key competitive resource when it comes to succeeding is talent – ensuring that you attract and keep that talent within your business, therefore, is crucial to its success!

Some suggested that during times of economic hardship, when jobs were scarce and potential employees were available in abundance, this competition would cool and the war would be over. It’s not. We are undoubtedly in one of the most competitive arenas for talent over the past decade – clearly whether the economy is flying, dying or otherwise, top talent is needed to succeed.

How do you win the war for talent? Well according to the same study the answer is four-fold: create an employee value proposition, have a proactive approach to your recruitment, differentiate and celebrate your top performers whilst all the time, developing your talent to become better. Even pre-pandemic, organisations were looking at their workplace strategy as a key differentiator in attracting the top talent; ensuring employees have a great experience when physically at work will bring them and keep them at your organisation.

​But wait, the rules have changed. No longer is getting your workplace strategy right a competitive advantage, it’s a necessity. No longer is your workplace strategy about offering employees natural light, green walls and free food, it’s about where your employees work – enter hybrid working.

​Hybrid working has been around for a while, but the pandemic has thrust it into the limelight. In essence, it describes an arrangement in which the employee, team or organisation split their time between the workplace and remote locations. Its existence has been front and centre in many of our conversations throughout 2021 – what are our clients doing regarding a return to the office?

​You only have to look at the news to see there is real variety in approaches, from Spotify’s “Work from Anywhere” policy through to the comments of Goldman Sachs’ CEO describing the remote-work culture as an aberration that needs to be corrected “as quickly as possible”.

​Similarly to flexible working, the benefits of hybrid working are widely accepted. For now, however, we’ll centre the conversation on only one of those benefits, which is that talent wants hybrid working. This desire is demonstrated by a spring 2020 survey by the consultancy GWA (Global Workplace Analytics). Of almost 3,000 employees surveyed, 76% of them wanted to work from home at least once a week – this is a marked increase from the 31% of respondents pre-pandemic.

What is surprising, however, is the passion on this subject, which has a significant impact on the ongoing war; 59% of employees would only consider a new role if it offered a choice of working location and according to Gallup’s 2021 study, 54% of otherwise happy employees would leave their job for one that offered a more flexible working arrangement.

​Another question therefore must be asked: why not save the considerable cost that comes with office space and move to a fully remote model? Once again, talent answers this question for us with only 16% of the GWA survey respondents wanting remote work all the time. Most data from a number of surveys suggests that on average, knowledge workers prefer an almost 50/50 split between onsite and offsite work.

​Leading organisations such as Google and Facebook have noted this sentiment and acted on it, with many others following suit by formalising the future expectations with regards to hybrid working. Once formalised, these expectations should be shared internally and critically, considered when looking at future talent acquisition strategies. With the war for talent still raging, being able to consider individuals from further flung locations is a significant advantage. As suggested by Forbes, a hybrid working model helps organisations “focus on what’s most important: finding and networking with highly valuable, skilled candidates”.

​Clearly then, the impact of a hybrid working model on attracting and retaining talent is considerable. Get it wrong (or worse, don’t have one!) and you could find yourself losing your talent to competitor organisations. Get it right, however, and not only will you keep your talent in your organisation, but you’ll actually be able to widen your talent pool, cast your net further afield and win the war. Vive la hybrid.

Kieran Dines | Director | Investigo |