When McKinsey wrote about the war for talent, many organisations interpreted this as something akin to the war for stationery supplies, given that humans were merely technology placeholders / cogs in the factory machine.
In my experience, many organisations are maintaining this industrial era mind-set in what is now the digital age. And they are starting to struggle to acquire and retain the talent needed to remain in the global value chain.
Talent in the digital age is more than a process-monkey. Post-cog talent does things that the market values AND cannot be done by a computer, robot, or ‘algo’.
So, here are 7 steps you can take to ensure your organisation attracts and retains a ‘digital age strength’ talent pool aka a thriving workforce.
- Recognise that you can no longer control the talent. And you can no longer control the corporate message. The power axis has shifted away from the talent-acquirer to the talent.
- Provide an environment that enables great people to do great work with other great people. Think collaboration, and anthropological hygiene.
- Eliminate cognitive leakage. There is a strong correlation between cognitive capacity and innovation. An environment of fear, or a lack of leadership conspire to drain our creative capacity. As does poorly designed environments, unnecessary rules and systems that thwart productivity.
- Treat people like people, and not cogs in the machine. Forget job specifications. Tailor the role based on the capabilities of the individual.
- Ensure your leadership knows that their primary role is to remove the obstacles that obstruct great people from doing great work.
- Ensure your organisation has a sense of purpose beyond, for example, helping tomorrow’s work force develop Type 2 diabetes (ie selling sugary food / drinks to children). Today’s talent needs to turn up for a reason beyond paying the bills / funding a lavish lifestyle.
- Support work-life integration. If you hate your work, you will naturally prefer work-life balance. If you love your work, then work-life integration is required. Digital age talent is passionate about what it does. Good progress has been made on home working. But what about work-homing?
For some organisations, this will require a seismic change. Many organisations have paid lip service to the importance of their people. The irony of the digital age is that it is not about technology, but about people.
And in keeping with the digital age, the talent shortage is following an exponential trajectory. You have the choice of creating a thriving workforce fired up for the digital age or becoming the go to ‘elephant’s graveyard’ destination for workers with limited economic options.