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Want an engaged and loyal workforce in this tight labor market? Build a culture of empathy

Veronica Frisch is the executive vice president and head of Randstad Sourceright Canada

People, not companies, create magic.

This is the year to recharge, renew and refresh your talent strategy by putting people first. It’s no secret that skilled talent is high in demand but short in supply and one thing is clear, companies that treat their workers like people – not human commodities – will succeed.

Randstad Sourceright’s 2022 Talent Trends Report, which represents the views of more than 900 human resources and C-suite leaders in 18 markets, shows that 66 per cent of the Canadian companies surveyed plan to hire extensively this year. As a result, businesses have had to become increasingly more creative in their human capital investments. During this extremely tight labor market, the needs and expectations of people have emerged as a top priority for companies everywhere.

The pandemic brought to light new challenges and needs for workers. Companies have to focus on those needs to ensure their employees are engaged and feel like their needs are being met. Empathy is critical to understanding and engaging the workforce. In order for businesses to create a more empathetic and innovative environment, a culture of curiosity needs to be cultivated. Breaking down barriers, embracing diversity and inclusion, and bringing it to the forefront of company strategy will help drive a more empathetic and innovative culture.

A few ways to achieve this are to provide an opportunity and platform to have open discussions about mental health, deliver mental-health training to your managers, make sure your workplace is physically accessible to all, implement a flexible work policy and create adaptive policies that are focused on our new world. Creating a safe space for ideas, voices and differences round out the workplace to allow for opportunity. An open and consistent flow of communication is critical and encourages diverse opinions as well as transparency in decision making.

Metrics and measuring impact and employee engagement are paramount. Engagement and satisfaction in one’s organization can be measured through internal surveys, Glassdoor ratings and turnover analysis. It can also be measured by referrals as employees tend to submit referrals when they are most satisfied with their company. Measuring career growth and retention is also key to understanding and gauging the success of the company’s strategy. Improved employee performance ratings and morale, reduced turnover rates and employee absenteeism, increased promotions from within and reduced time to fill job openings are other positive indicators for measuring the effectiveness of employee engagement.

Organizations need to keep in mind the risk of burnout to understand and support their work force. They can do so by promoting work/life balance, actively monitoring workloads and scheduling, encouraging employees to use vacation time, providing work from home options, prioritizing workplace wellness, offering employee assistance programs and enforcing management training. As we forge into a new work world, the companies that weave empathy and innovation into their DNA will reap the benefits of an engaged and loyal work force.

This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about the world of work. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab and guidelines for how to contribute to the column here.

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