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How to engage and retain talent in a post-pandemic landscape

Written by Sarra Bejaoui on Wednesday, 14 July 2021. Posted in HR, People

One of my greatest learnings is that employee satisfaction does not happen by accident, mapping your employee value vision and proposition is key to the hiring and retention of your people

How to engage and retain talent in a post-pandemic landscape

One of my greatest learnings is that employee satisfaction does not happen by accident, mapping your employee value vision and proposition is key to the hiring and retention of your people and critically, to your customers - happy people equal happy customers. 

A recent Forbes article by PHD sociologist Tracey Brower touched on just this. In a post-pandemic world, competition for top talent has become more significant than ever, with Microsoft reporting that 40% of employees surveyed were planning to leave their current employer. The job market is reaching a period of flux as employees have higher expectations and with demand for certain roles growing at an exponential rate. Business leaders must do more – not just to attract talent, but to retain and develop existing teams. 

In her article, Tracey highlights a three-stage model for talent which outlines how to attract talent to join the business, encourage them to stay, and avoid them leaving. This join-stay-leave model rings true, and as the founder and Chief Experience Officer at SmartPA, I have developed and refined our employee value proposition over several years covering these three topics. Using Tracey’s three-stage model, here are some practical steps on how you can engage and retain talent in a post-pandemic landscape.

Join: Create an irresistible company culture 

Tracey states that the key factor for attracting talent is company culture, and I couldn’t agree more. Cultivating a positive and energised atmosphere is central to my role as the Chief Experience Officer at SmartPA. If the whole organisation is not singing from the same hymn sheet, this will inevitably filter through into the customer experience. Creating a sense of shared purpose internally convinces customers not just to buy, but to believe in your brand and this is what creates brand loyalty and repeat custom. 

With this said, every employee must be bought in and educated on your culture to create this sense of collective purpose. At SmartPA, this starts with our Employee Value Proposition, or EVP. This is a document we have created which outlines our purpose, values, and benefits package. The EVP goes out to all prospective employees to create transparency on what to expect when you come to work with us – from what is like to work at the office to the benefits you can expect when you join. Offering this level of detail allows potential employees to make an informed decision and means that they are educated on our culture and purpose before they even get their feet under the desk.

Stay: Foster positive team relationships

The ‘stay’ section of Tracey’s talent model highlights that people stay in companies because of the sense of belonging positive team relationships create. There are a few ways that you can foster positive team relationships, but I have found that creating a relaxed yet ambitious environment – both offline and online – is key to this. Our management team are equipped with an experience and performance coaching framework to help them celebrate individual and team successes, from the tiny to the massive! As part of this framework, we work with our leaders to effectively support their teams, encouraging consistent growth and development, and keep our people ahead of their game at every level of the business. We like to create a sense of fun in the office, whether that is playing music, Friday drinks, or enjoying lunch in the office garden. For our remote workers, we have a very active head office group chat where we share daily themes to facilitate chat throughout the organisation. 

We have also implemented an internal recognition scheme, where anyone in the organisation can send ‘Kudos’ to a colleague. These messages are displayed in a public portal for the wider business to see, and those with the most Kudos at the end of the month are featured in our internal newsletter. Schemes such as this allow our people to create a shared sense of purpose and ambition, as well as developing shared experiences and fostering that sense of belonging that is so crucial to retention.

Leave: Nurture your leadership

The primary reason employees leave their organisation is leadership and for this reason, it’s crucial that your leadership team is bought in to your company purpose and culture. Without buy-in from your top people, that value proposition that you put to your employees at the interview stage can never be fulfilled. It’s important that your internal team reflects the culture and values that you project on to the outside world - as having a disconnect can create inauthenticity and will have a negative impact on staff turnover.

At SmartPA, our leadership team is coached to create a clear sense of purpose, helping people see how their work matters and unleashing their personal career story. I think company-specific leadership training plays a key role in that; it helps to ensure that our positive ethos filters through the business from the very top and we are consistently prioritising company culture and employee experience.

I think what it boils down to is this – your ‘why’. As a business leader, you should be interrogating what drives you and makes you passionate and then work to educate and encourage the wider business to share in the dream.

About the Author

Sarra Bejaoui

Sarra Bejaoui

Sarra Bejaoui, is the Founder and Managing Director of SmartPA. As a global business leader, Sarra drives SmartPA in its quest to challenge the perception and experience of the PA and business support sector, transforming the lives of individual SmartPAs and their clients.

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