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Op-Ed: Talent tips for employers facing new challenges with JobKeeper reductions

As Australia comes to term with a second wave of COVID-19 cases, the federal government has announced JobKeeper will be extended until March 2021 at two reduced rates and with stricter conditions for eligibility.

The change means many employers across various sectors will still be faced with the difficult task of redundancies in the coming months. For these businesses, identifying which staff members to keep and let go will be critical to their business’s survival.

An employer’s best talent now might be different to those who they previously considered their best performing staff. Given the challenges of today’s economy, leaders must start putting a higher value on those who can quickly adapt with the business, learn new skills and add true value as outside conditions continue to evolve rapidly. Data has shown that this pandemic has hit the youngest of the workforce the hardest – but this is also the cohort most likely to respond and adapt the fastest to the ‘new norm’ business environment.

For businesses in survival mode, retaining their best talent is still mission critical. Employers should consider doing the following to maintain their teams confidence and commitment to the business during these trying times:

  1. Maintain employee engagement through regular check-ins and listening to their feedback, especially if headcount is going down around them.
  2. Reiterate their role’s purpose, and how it might evolve to help execute refined company strategies to manage the downturn.
  3. Recognise their hard work and provide positive encouragement.
  4. Search for alignment with career development to progress and learn new skills, where possible.
  5. Be transparent. Include them in conversations around your business’s situation.
  6. Brush up on your own leadership skills! Good leadership is at its most valuable during difficult times.

Some businesses in more resilient sectors may also be in the fortunate position to make new hires –  this is a completely different challenge.

For these employers, it’s a question of how best to approach hiring new staff when there is an abundance of qualified candidates available to choose from.

We’ve all heard the stories of small businesses in niche sectors that would normally get 50 applicants getting 500 due to the pandemic. Employers of all sizes looking to hire need to have clear filters in place for screening talent.

To do this, leaders need to redefine their workplace expectations, understand their company culture and hire alongside this. The businesses that get this right today will be tomorrow’s industry leaders!

 The key things to do, include:

  1. Solidifying your company purpose and benchmark your company culture
  2. Identifying the traits that a candidate needs to possess to fit the culture and excel in the role to add value quickly (even with the challenge of remote working and changing policies)
  3. Using this selection criteria to screen applications alongside their skills and qualifications
  4. Utilising free online platforms such as the Australian National Talent Registry to screen candidates quickly through automatic matching capabilities.

Whether your business is just surviving or starting to rebound, having the ability to identify and retain good talent has never been more important.

Rudy Crous

Rudy is CEO and co-founder of Shortlyster. As a Corporate Psychologist, he has worked extensively with businesses to improve their people systems and organisational cultures.

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