Building a professional community, company culture, The impact driven professional

No one wants to be part of a toxic work environment, which is why companies are looking for ways to improve the workplace and attract the people best aligned with their business vision, strategy, and culture. Jobseekers are also looking for companies that prioritize more than just skills, and that take their core beliefs and values into consideration.

You’d think that everyone would be on the same page, and yet the current market landscape is not a pretty one; there is an imbalance. On the one hand, we are witnessing high resignation rates and huge numbers of layoffs, and on the other, companies are struggling with labor shortages, and there are millions of jobs unfilled and millions of people on the job hunt. The US Labor Department’s research indicates that by the end of February 2024, job openings surged to 8.756 million, exceeding market expectations. Comparatively, this figure represents an increase of 2.7 million jobs over the previous year (February 2023).Why can’t these vacancies be filled? There is a clear gap in the market that needs to be addressed.

Changing the workplace environment

The pandemic forced many organizations to change their working models – quickly and to suit a new way of working that, at the time, people had no idea how long it would be needed for. Four years on, employees don’t want to go back to their former work environment and are reassessing their working lives and making radical choices. Organizations regardless of size are presented with new talent opportunities. Smaller companies, including startups have an even greater opportunity to hire talent that they initially could not afford, something we’re seeing especially in the tech sector, and fully develop and embrace a culture that attracts, retains and sustains the best talent – thereby creating a sustainable workforce.

Research from the Boston Consulting Group produced as part of the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda states that building a sustainable workforce helps to improve job satisfaction. A sustainable workforce is one where the work environment is caring, inclusive and supports employee health and wellbeing. It creates an environment where employees make an impact on the environment and society around them, and can upskill to close the digitalization gap.

Not only will a sustainable workforce that is aligned with a company’s values, mission, and culture improve job satisfaction, it will also reduce turnover, increase productivity and create long-term stakeholder value.

The shift from skills to values

The future of work and skills are evolving. Hiring based solely on resumes and skills is not sufficient anymore. Evidence suggests that the impact driven professionals – the ones driving the sustainable workforce – are looking for jobs that are aligned with their core beliefs, values and interests. But businesses on the whole aren’t currently able to keep up with job seekers’ needs and demands.

While resume and skills-based sourcing fall behind and is where the focus remains, building a sustainable workforce will take longer. Employee retention is a problem, and a costly one at that we all know how expensive it can be to constantly rehire and retrain staff for the same position. Mismatches between professionals and businesses lead to short tenure and staff leaving, which has an impact on company stability, growth, and costs, for example. Businesses need to understand that aligning with their prospective employees’ values can only impact the company positively.

This shift in the demands of job seekers means that HR and talent management leaders need to be thinking differently about how to keep existing employees engaged and adapt their talent acquisition strategy to recruit new employees. While many organizations are focusing on sustainability – in part because their stakeholders are demanding it – they are overlooking talent as a contributing factor.

The role businesses have to play

Society is calling for companies to become more purpose-driven, have a social impact, sound ESG practices, and have clear cultural values that they actually operate by – rather than simply sit in a company handbook as part of a box ticking exercise that is used solely to attract people and satisfy stakeholders. For companies to meet their stakeholders’ demand for becoming more sustainable and having a greater impact on the environment, they need to have employees in place and hire talent with the same mindset and purpose. Companies will need to embed this in their DNA, promote it, and publish what they are doing to attract and retain talent.

To hire impact driven professionals, companies need to provide opportunities that will enable individuals to have an impact on their environment and society and prove that they are working – as they will only become more important in the future. By developing an ecosystem that values more than abilities and skills and a culture that is aligned with what professionals seek – a fair and healthy work environment, career growth, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and “doing something good” – companies will attract purpose driven professionals and enable them to grow with the business.

Employers need to fully understand and embrace the benefits of building a sustainable workforce – greater retention of talent, alignment with vision and mission (for both company and professional), loyalty and commitment, and increased productivity. There are a number of companies that are already making great strides in this area.

CloudFlare is one that offers tips on how diversity, equity, and inclusion (all things that employees are demanding) can lead to better outcomes through improved decision-making, more innovative teams, stronger financial returns, and simply a better place to work for everyone. Diligent Corporation, a company that I am very familiar with, is another that is purpose driven and focused on making an impact, through its diversity, inclusiveness, and broader ESG initiatives, creating a societal impact and healthy work environment for all stakeholders. And not leaving out one of the more famous examples of Patagonia, a US outdoor equipment and clothing retailer, that has been incredibly vocal about its work for a number of years. It has always been purpose driven and it boldly announced in 2022 that it is “in business to save our home planet.”

If more companies get on board and seriously invest time and energy into building a sustainable workforce, we might just see a very different market situation in the coming years. The benefits for everyone involved and for acting now are so obvious. So why would you want to miss out on being a part of the future sustainable workforce?

Diligent Patagonia Cloudflare Boston Consulting Group (BCG) INOP