The Talent Pendulum Swing
Managing a business environment that’s out of balance
We’ve been hearing a lot from leaders lately about layoffs they’re expecting across multiple industries. The media is full of stories of companies, like Ford, Amazon, and Facebook laying off thousands because of challenging economic considerations in the aftermath of the pandemic.
But an uncertain economy is just part of the story.
There are other factors at play including how organizations have managed their talent over the last two years. During that time, new and existing employees made demands around things like salary and benefits, and often got what they wanted to ensure their roles met their needs.
But the work relationship has to be good for both sides and when it isn’t, the pendulum will swing back in the other direction. And this is what we’re seeing now. Organizations are taking steps to correct the talent issues the pandemic created or heightened:
- Many organizations were busy, understaffed, and dealing with a talent shortage. They didn’t get enough high-quality candidates and settled for hiring people who weren’t a perfect fit.
- Because organizations were dealing with COVID issues including remote work environments and a stressed workforce, performance management suffered. Some leaders felt they didn’t have permission to bring up performance issues, because health and wellbeing took precedence. Others found it challenging to discuss performance concerns virtually, rather than face-to-face.
- People who joined organizations during the pandemic lost out on optimal orientation, onboarding, and training, which may have contributed to poor performance.
- Remote work is also part of the issue because unless someone is doing a good job staying connected and informing their teammates and bosses, they are likely to be at risk, even if they perform well. People who are present and involved are more likely to be noticed, given the best work, and more likely to be rewarded.
- And higher pay usually means raised expectations (more responsibility, expectations of greater impact and scope). Employees who asked for and received large increases, but continued to do the same work, will be at risk.
Organizations have more opportunities now to take a new look at their talent decisions. To assess employees fairly because they may not have had the same opportunities as people being hired today or pre-COVID. In fact, assessing staff is critical or organizations risk laying off employees they will regret losing.
Talking to employees openly and honestly about what the organization needs going forward is the first step. Look for people who are coachable, open to feedback, hardworking, and team oriented. If they have these character traits, it’s worth putting effort into turning the situation around. There’s latent talent in these potential layoffs and it’s a small investment to ensure businesses keep the talent that needs better mentoring.