As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, here’s how to prep for a hot talent market

Originally published in the Globe & Mail August 2nd, 2021

An impending resignation boom is on the horizon, with everything from “the great resignation” to “the big quit” to the “turnover tsunami” making headlines. Accordingly, companies are bracing for what could be a very active talent market in the coming months. According to a recent study conducted by Microsoft, 41 per cent of workers globally are considering leaving their jobs this year. This is not necessarily surprising given the pandemic-induced volatility over the past year (causing people to want to hold on to any sort of job “security” they have), the collective exhaustion caused by endless online meetings, and the inclination for humans to re-evaluate life goals after experiencing crisis.

Meanwhile, official Statistic Canada’s job figures still show plenty of volatility. Although the 230,700 jobs added last month beat economists’ expectations of 175,000 jobs, and reversed job cut figures from April and May, all the gains were in part-time employment. The number of full-time jobs remained down. With the supply and demand side of the employment equation restless and ready for change, now is a great time to re-evaluate your career aspirations. It might be time to consider entering the gig economy, raising your hand for a stretch assignment or even contemplate a career change.

Whether or not you are considering participating in this global game of career musical chairs, there are a few things you can do to prepare for it:

  1. Practice good resume hygiene: Regardless of whether or not you are pro-actively seeking alternative employment, now is a great time to refresh your resume and online professional profile. This will not only ensure you are ready if that opportunity you can’t resist falls on your lap, but also is a good way to showcase some of the skills and capabilities acquired over the last year – particularly digital literacy and “human” leadership capabilities like growth mindset and empathy.
  2. Reconnect with your network: Lost touch with important professional contacts over the past 18 months? It’s OK – many have been in a blur of “survive mode” and have de-prioritized networking. Given the recent and ongoing reopening across Canada, there is impetus to reconnect with mentors, sponsors and other professional contacts and to make them aware of your short and longer term aspirations.
  3. Anticipate and take advantage of the inevitable change: With the amount of talent movement anticipated, even if you are not planning to change jobs in the near future, there will no doubt be opportunities (e.g., backfills, secondments, stretch assignments, internal gigs / special projects) you can raise your hand for, within your current job or company. Don’t forget – many employers are now offering location flexibility so you can cast a wider net for opportunities both within and outside of your current job, department and geography.

As for organizations and leaders, it is important to note that the upcoming war for talent will likely not be won through money, titles or job security – it’s all about the employee experience. Most organizations are grappling with their approach to hybrid work and work flexibility, though that’s just one piece of the employee experience. Prioritizing the holistic employee experience (EX), which is coined as a term to capture all that employees encounter in their tenure at an organization, not only attracts and retains top talent, but also drives key business outcomes. According to a recent study conducted by Josh Bersin Academy, companies leveraging the right EX practices are 2.2 times more likely to exceed financial targets, 2.4 times more likely to delight customers and 4.3 times more likely to innovate effectively. The top three of fifteen such practices which have a disproportionate impact on business, people and innovation outcomes were found to be:

  1. Fostering a culture of integrity and helping others
  2. Embedding mission and purpose as part of every activity
  3. Inspiring trust in leaders to be ethical and operate with agility.

Ensuring that leaders, and the enterprise as a whole, focus on and internalize these practices helps to build trust in the organization, and thus higher engagement: This is the way to win the war for talent post-pandemic.

Naomi Titleman Colla is founder of Collaborativity Inc., a Toronto-based consultancy focused on driving progressive talent strategy in this new world of work. She is also a co-founder of Future FoHRward, a Josh Bersin Academy partner.

Stay ahead in your career. We have a weekly Careers newsletter to give you guidance and tips on career management, leadership, business education and more. Sign up today.