How to attract and retain the best employees

Employers now have access to talent that they didn’t have previously, says Francois de Wet.

The working environment has drastically changed over the past two years, with short-term changes forced by the Covid-19 pandemic becoming permanent. With a skills shortage in South Africa and employers competing for the best talent, it’s important that these new trends and ways of working are understood to attract and retain the best employees.

“Technology seems to be a golden thread when looking at growing trends in the workforce,” says Francois de Wet, industrial psychologist and founder of Wamly.

“However, it can play either a positive or negative role. For instance, even though we have technology at our disposal that allows us to work from home, it is easy to see how some employees will feel disconnected and insecure, while for others it opens up a world of possibilities.”

As the corporate world wound down towards the end of 2021, it was crucial for employers to keep team morale up after a challenging year. According to a recent survey by Microsoft, 41 percent of employees across various industries were seriously considering resigning or changing professions due to concerns about their health and wellbeing.

Flexible working environment
Following the enforced work from home policies during the pandemic, many businesses are requiring employees to return to the office. It is no secret that people want the best of both worlds, however. Employees want the option to work from home, as well as work from the office when they crave more in-person interaction.

“We are in uncharted waters and are all learning as we go along, but a major trend that we have seen emerging is that people want flexible hours and remote working conditions. Employee expectations are changing,” says Francois.

“According to an online survey conducted by research institute Ipsos, 29 percent of employees expressed a preference for working from home, while 51 percent find it more stressful.”

The study also indicated that about 49 percent of employees said they experienced more interruptions at home. Those aged between 30 and 44 said working in an office built trust and made them feel more valued to the business, whereas employees between the age of 45 and 55 found working remotely easier. They even noted that they made themselves presentable, despite not going into the office.

The talent landscape has increased
With the increase in remote working, the talent landscape has widened drastically. Employers now have access to talent that they didn’t have previously, from across the globe, and they are also attracting a more diverse group of applicants.

“Technology like Wamly allows employers to increase their search pool when they are recruiting. They no longer have to only look for people who live geographically near the workplace, and can use tools like video conferencing and other software to run teams virtually. It means that they can now access a global talent pool, and take advantage of things like different time zones to deliver against tighter deadlines effectively,” adds Francois.

High productivity is making for an exhausted workforce
There are also negative side effects that result from the increased use of technology. With the growth of online meetings and working remotely, employees feel the pressure to keep up. Many work after hours, finding it difficult to separate work life from their personal time.

“Many people have suffered from a digital overload over the past two years. More time is spent in virtual meetings and collaborating online than in person and employees don’t have the downtime that they used to. This has a serious impact on health and well-being, so employers need to ensure they are managing this carefully so their teams don’t burn out,” he says.

With so much change happening so quickly, employees are re-evaluating their priorities and focusing on what is important to them. Ultimately, if employers embrace these trends and learning it will impact their ability to attain and recruit new talent for a better 2022.