The information age has helped to bring down barriers for job-seekers. Today’s candidates can upload their resumes and search for jobs anywhere in the world. Some job opportunities might remain inaccessible in this manner, but there’s no denying that the playing field is generally more level than it’s ever been.
The overall competition among candidates for any vacancy is stiff. One would think that this puts the power in the hands of the employers. After all, you get to pick from a global talent pool. You can afford to be selective. And current employees should know that they are far from irreplaceable.
Yet, in practice, this is seldom the case. Managers take pains to develop their people. New hires are given onboarding to get them up to speed. Top performers earn commemorative coins and other awards. Training and recognition all emphasize talent retention.
Rather than viewing people as expendable, many leaders instinctively lean towards the opposite direction. Here’s why talent will continue to reign supreme and how you can harness it for your team:
People hold potential
When the discerning consumer goes shopping for a computer, they have certain specifications in mind. Those specs are determined by their purpose. For instance, if you’re going to do a lot of GPU-intensive tasks, such as video gaming, a top-of-the-line graphics card is essential. Average users are more likely to be swayed by ergonomic factors, portability, or battery life.
Regardless of what you’re after, the specs give you a good idea of what you’ll be getting in a device. You might not even need to test it. After all, reputable sellers will provide a warranty of some sort. The entire process is relatively risk-free.
Employers seeking to fill a vacancy post a list of requirements that can be interpreted as specs for people. A threshold of specific skills, proficiency levels, and years of experience is necessary to ensure that a candidate will be able to carry out their designated tasks.
However, people aren’t machines. Human intuition and interpersonal skills help us to learn on the job. We observe experienced colleagues at work to catch up in terms of skill deficiencies. Social interactions help us to immerse ourselves in company culture and work smoothly with the rest of the team. We all have the potential to improve and contribute beyond what’s expected.
Risks and trade-offs
Human potential holds a considerable upside for any business. Yet no one is a stranger to job cuts. Particularly in the pandemic era, we are likely to know someone who has had to file for unemployment. Even in previous years, many employees perceived their jobs to be under threat with the rise of automation and outsourcing as cost-effective solutions.
The human dynamic can create friction. Workplace conflicts can disrupt a team’s chemistry, lowering performance and morale. Sometimes, talent acquisition can simply get it wrong. A new hire might be a bad fit. Even when people have been part of a company for some time, they might feel inclined to pursue opportunities elsewhere.
Working with human components can be risky. Employers don’t want to invest in onboarding and continued development only for an employee to underperform or jump ship. Outsourcing specific tasks largely transfers that risk to third-party providers. Using robots can eliminate it.
Proper management is the key
Layoffs and furloughs are a common practice in part because the problem with treating employees as an expendable resource is easy to miss. AI, outsourcing, and other cost-cutting measures play to average outcomes. That sort of thinking makes organizations and societies fragile.
When you assume that specific parameters will hold indefinitely, you can plan your operations around them. And it becomes tempting, not to mention easier, to reduce your dealings with individual people and their complexities. But it only takes one disruption to throw a wrench in that sort of system.
Businesses are learning to adapt to the pandemic. And in the process, they are finding that, unlike technology or supply chains, people are a critical asset. Their talent represents the biggest leverage when it comes to working through change and finding innovative solutions.
For your business to succeed moving forward, it’s imperative to find ways to maximize the talent at your disposal. Leaders must take a proactive approach. In an age of remote work, you need to experiment with increasing social interactions and creating meaningful work using online tools.
You also can’t neglect each employee’s career goals or assume that these remain unchanged. Use one-on-one remote sessions to check in with everyone and continue to coach them. Empower them to make decisions and take ownership of their changing jobs.
Continue to evolve and improve your management, and you’ll be able to harness your team’s potential throughout the changes in our future.