It’s a Job Seeker’s Market: The Importance of Shifting Leadership Focus

Workers continue to be in demand across Canada and this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. Many blame COVID but the reality is that 1 in 5 workers are over 55 and they are retiring.

Unlike retiring baby boomers who once competed for work, younger generations are limited in numbers and therefore have more choice in who to work for. To make matters worse for hiring managers, with remote work now a viable option, a potential employer can be anywhere in the world. This leads to an inquiry at leadership levels, ‘Why choose us?’.

In addition, according to Forbes and the Canadian HR Reporter, the upcoming generations (Y and Z) are more socially and environmentally aware, lack trust in traditional ‘systems’, want to make a difference and are well-informed. These workers have also witnessed the impact of a generation that put work first, rather than making overall wellbeing a priority.

To win at the recruitment and retention game, leadership mindset and focus may need to shift. A key finding in Gallup’s 2022 global workplace survey was that an increasing number of workers — now 44%, a global high — are feeling daily stress.  Typically, when under stress, employees become more task-oriented and with increasing workloads, employee engagement and wellbeing are challenged.  Leaders have influence over these factors and an increased focus on these is no longer an option, but rather a requirement.

Gallup suggests that organizations need to focus on overall employee wellbeing. Wellbeing is defined as “a state of being comfortable, healthy or happy.” A change in leadership mindset and focus now can set your organization up to be a clear choice for new recruits. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Get to know the whole person: Employees want to be valued and noticed, and they want to contribute, innovate and trust their leaders. Investing time to get to know individuals’ strengths, career goals and personal life attributes, allows leaders and employees to mutually care.
  2. It’s about the results: Autonomy is a big motivator and traditional 9-5 work lives are shifting. Employees want to be engaged and trusted to do the work in a flexible way, whether at 2 am, on weekends or from home. This represents a shift from working harder to working smarter.
    Get clear on results and then, let go.
  3. Listen: Younger generations have grown up with instant global information at their fingertips. Leverage their knowledge and desire to be the change they want to see.
  4. Lead with humanity: Quite simply, be transparent, appropriately authentic and kind.  
  5. Provide feedback: Employees want to grow and develop. This takes a clear understanding of what they want to achieve, their expectations and then follow-through with coaching, feedback and positive recognition.

We have all heard that people don’t quit companies, they quit their leaders. We have also heard and witnessed that change is constant. Leaders who are flexible and who focus on empowering their people to do the work they want to do, the way they want to do it, will positively impact stress levels, employee referrals and retention.

Kwela’s customizable Leadership in Action Program (LEAP) helps participants implement what they learn, and taking action results in higher levels of people engagement and organizational performance.

Glen Sollors, Partner