From a business perspective, the turbulent year of 2021 will be remembered for “The Great Resignation,” when record numbers of employees left their jobs.
But when it comes to the worldwide problem of talent shortages across many industries, perhaps employers haven’t seen anything yet. New Year’s resolutions of retaining top employees or finding the right talents when recruiting may be even more difficult to achieve, if you believe surveys such as one conducted in the fall of ‘21 by LumApps in collaboration with CMSWire. Seventy-one percent of U.S. participants in the poll say the pandemic made them rethink what they want out of their career, and 63% have considered a new career in the past year.
All that data fuels concerns among many employers that the talent shortage will continue to be a major problem in 2022. Everest Group’s 2022 Key Issues Study shows companies’ No. 1 constraint now is “finding enough talent to run the business.”
This talent crunch, along with the trend for many companies to move from 100% remote work to a hybrid model or back to a fully in-person model, is causing business leaders to reconsider what keeps their teams happy and productive. Many are asking: How can we keep employees invested in and passionate about our brand in this new hybrid environment?
One key to keeping the best employees on board may lie in how well companies give them the opportunity to put their own skills and interests into action in making a difference in the world. In the LumApps/CMS poll regarding “The Great Reflection” among workers, among the reasons cited are heightened demands for flexibility and inclusivity in the workplace, more career growth and companies that walk the talk about corporate social responsibility. Indeed, employees’ special gifts and passions for social issue involvement contribute towards helping their company’s overall impact efforts and also to employees’ fulfillment: 76% in the LumApps/CMS poll are looking for corporate social responsibility and 73% want to choose employers with a reputation for supporting diversity, equity and inclusion.
Just as businesses have unique abilities and resources to solve problems for their communities, their employees have their own set of talents that can add a rich dimension to the company’s social-impact profile. Unleashing those talents can be as simple and informal as assigning appropriate roles to your employees for a volunteer project. If there’s a photographer on the team, for example, have them take photos at the event. Have a group that loves to haul things in their pickup trucks? Put them in charge of collecting the cans from your office locations for your food drive.
Over time, of course, you can become more intentional and strategic about how you use your employees’ skills. We do an employee survey or focus group with our client teams to identify employee interests such as public speaking, strategic planning, committee leadership, budget planning, and more. Effectively leveraging these skills and interests helps extend our client’s impact footprint in the community, even with limited formal staff resources.
Employees, especially the younger workforce, are looking for a deeper meaning in their work and to feel as though they are contributing to something impactful. Millennials are especially vigilant about researching and weighing the values and cultures of companies they want to work for. Gen Z is following suit, looking for authentic commitments from their employer to take action to solve the world’s problems.
This is worth the effort: recent statistics on corporate social responsibility show that 95% of employees believe businesses should benefit all stakeholders, including the communities in which they operate, and 70% say they wouldn’t work for a company without a strong purpose.
Employers are understanding that social impact is a critical component to an effective business strategy. In today’s connected and interdependent world, employees increasingly demand that businesses and their suppliers take part in creating solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. It’s time to fire up those special talents and passions to build engagement and loyalty.
Maggie Z. Miller and Hannah Nokes are ForbesBooks co-authors of Magnify Your Impact: Powering Profit with Purpose. They also are co-founders of Magnify Impact, a company that helps business leaders create effective social impact strategies. Miller has developed social impact solutions with hundreds of company leaders globally. Previously, she founded an international nonprofit organization to provide microcredit loans for thousands of women in Peru. Nokes has led corporate social responsibility for global corporations and founded an impact collaborative of companies in Austin, Texas.