How employers can attract and retain their people in times of economic uncertainty

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By Marc LeCuyer, Vice President, Americas Technology Workflows GTM, ServiceNow Canada

From the incredibly hot labour market that was on fire for the first half of the year to an economy that is now seeing inflation climb to the highest point we’ve seen in decades, we’re experiencing a perfect storm of societal and economic change in Canada. Add what looks to be a recession in our near future and this is an incredibly challenging time for businesses that are trying to weather it all.

I know many employers are facing budget constraints, especially when it comes to hiring talent and compensating staff, but do you know what gets a business through times like this? The people. The loyal, hard-working folks like the dutiful office manager, hungry sales rep or curious engineer. What they need now is the support of their employer to reassure them of their place in all of this change and uncertainty. Here are three areas employers can work on to attract and keep their people.

Provide a great employee experience

A people-first employee experience is vital to retain talent. The best way for employers to think of employee experience is to ask themselves, “Are we providing a work environment that supports a great work-life balance?” More simply, “Are our people generally happy at work?”.  Happy employees are good for business. They’re more productive, more engaged and more likely to stay with their company.

The best way to ensure employees are happy is to make sure their needs are met and to reduce the pain points they experience at work. Every interaction people have in their role counts. Often, it is the accumulation of little things that make the difference since many employees don’t find everyday moments easy to navigate. In an office setting, internal tools must be easy to use. Employers need to consider automating mundane tasks so employees can focus on the work that’s important to them.

Adopt a flexible work model 

Employers should empower their people with the freedom to choose how, when, and where they work. While many companies have reopened their offices, the role of this space has changed. The workplace is no longer the default location where most employees go every day. Instead, it’s a destination for collaboration, key meetings and (hopefully) fun events.

These are the reasons employees will want to go into the office, but only if the experience doesn’t add more hassle, stress, and frustration. It’s understandable that employees are making decisions about where and how they work based on their personal comfort levels and needs. Employers that care about being successful in challenging economic times need to embrace this reality. And they need to prove to current and prospective employees that they mean it by investing in the technology to make hybrid models work for everyone.

Stand for more than your bottom line 

This might sound counterintuitive, but for the modern working professional there’s more to work than the work itself. To truly inspire their teams, employers should determine and demonstrate exactly how their organization works with purpose. According to a recent study, Canadian office workers’ expectations of their employers have evolved – the majority now need their work to be meaningful. So, employers should reflect on how they contribute to society. Does your company have a clear and consistent stance on social issues? Does your organization support environmental good? If so, how? And most importantly, are you making a positive impact? 

Don’t forget – purpose is not about donating or volunteering. It’s bigger than that. As an employer, purpose is the reason your company succeeds. Internally, it’s an employee’s connective tissue to the leadership in their organization. In a hybrid environment, this is important because it provides a meaningful foundation to work when the bigger picture isn’t always clear. Ultimately, a great company culture rooted in meaning and authenticity can be the difference between hiring qualified people and attracting the best talent.

For most employers in Canada, committing to improving in these three areas won’t be easy, and it certainly won’t happen overnight. But you can’t keep your best people by clinging to the old ways of working. When looking for a guiding principle to steer you through workforce volatility, always remember that when your values match those of your employees, great things can happen. 

About the author

Marc LeCuyer is Vice President, Americas Technology Workflows GTM at ServiceNow Canada. The company’s cloud‑based platform and solutions deliver digital workflows that create great experiences and unlock productivity for employees and the enterprise.

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