My great friend, Laszlo Bock, the former Senior VP of People Operations at Google once shared a brilliant insight on how Google treats its people: “Empowering employees, even in a time of flat wages, you can still make work better, make people happier; it’s when the economy is at its worst that treating people well matters most.”
In today’s adverse macro-economic environment, there’s a new trend happening in businesses across the United Kingdom and United States. We’re experiencing high interest rates, low unemployment, but a high mobility of talented people. Many of the most talented people are still looking to move in a tight job market. How do we best keep hold of them?
Far too many businesses are finding themselves left with no option but to counter offer the package that their top people have been offered to join someone else. Well, no business wants to find itself in a financial bidding war for any of their people. If it only comes down to salary, the employee already has one foot out of the door. There are now smaller businesses vying for the same talent pool as the larger companies. Salary is no longer the key driver for retention, it’s about values and the work environment. Leaders must empower and trust their colleagues and establish an environment where they can bring their authentic selves to their place of work, without being judged or being forced to ‘fit in’. For most, this is the most compelling reason to stay.
The pace of change has never been this fast, and yet it will never be this slow again. Never have I seen the business landscape transform as quickly as it has in the last few years. Along the way, I’ve noticed four things that the people seek above all else. They want continuous learning, clarity, trust, and a greater purpose. Many are looking for a sense of belonging, the inclusive culture that will keep most people. Something is not right in your environment if you’ve found yourself in a bidding war.
There’s something to say about vocational careers that embrace pride over salary. Teachers are one of the best examples of those who pursue a career that may not pay as well as others but is full of purpose. Not so long ago, the NHS was in a similar place, until the recent well documented pressures and lack of resources have begun to unravel its impressive inclusive culture, now making it an extremely hard place to work with lots of overworking and less and less resources.
Our people are 9.4 times more likely to stay if they feel included. It’s no longer only about salary and benefits. Inclusion has always been the right thing to do, well it’s now the smart thing to do; but it’s not the easiest to do.
Look at what recently occurred between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC over the Ecuadorian, Moises Caicedo. It looked like a snatch deal for Liverpool whose owners were prepared to break the British record fee for the transfer. It was not a financial issue that tilted Caicedo’s move in Chelsea’s favour. I believe Chelsea offered a more inclusive culture for South American players considering the manager, Poch, is Argentinian. Having been in contact for months, Chelsea prioritised the player’s needs first (I would say that wouldn’t I).
It’s vital for the leaders at the top to want an inclusive culture for it to be a success. I’ve seen several CEOs who are taking the lead. It’s one of the hardest things to do. We all want to belong to a business that celebrates difference, is authentically supportive, fosters unconditional trust, and thrives on high
performance. The leader’s job is to act and ensure their colleagues at all levels are being used to their fullest potential.
Can today’s leaders keep up with the pace of change? I strongly believe they can, but they can’t do it alone anymore. The business case for inclusion is that it retains talent and drives performance.
To include everyone can take time but it only takes a moment to move to an inclusive mindset.
Thought of the week:
Inclusion is not tolerance; it is trusting those different to you.
Top Tips for Becoming an A Player:
- Always prioritise your people
- Be committed to your colleague’s success
- Exceptional times demand extraordinary leadership
- Leadership no longer works without inclusion
- Stop forcing people to fit in at work