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How To Retain Top Talent In The Midst Of Layoffs

Rudy Crous, CEO and co-founder of Compono, has shared some expert tips on what employers in struggling sectors can do to retain their best talent in the midst of layoffs, and what employers in more resilient sectors can do to identify and hire the right talent when faced with an abundance of qualified candidates. 

JobKeeper has supported the Australian workforce through a very difficult time. The reality is that any change to the current program is likely to have an impact on businesses, individuals and family lives. Many employers across various sectors will still be faced with the difficult task of redundancies in the coming months and identifying which staff members to keep and let go will be critical to their business’s survival.

This might be different to who is currently or previously your best performing staff – leaders must start putting a higher value on those who can quickly adapt with the business, learn new skills and add true value as outside conditions continue to evolve rapidly. Data has shown that this pandemic has hit the youngest of the workforce the hardest – but this is also the cohort most likely to respond and adapt the fastest to the ‘new norm’ business environment. 

For businesses in survival mode, retaining your best talent is mission critical. Employers should consider doing the following:

1. Maintain employee engagement and morale through regular check-ins and seeking their feedback on what you can do better to support them right now, especially if headcount is going down around them.

2. Reiterate their role’s purpose, and how it might evolve to help execute refined company strategies to manage the downturn.

3. Recognise their hard work and provide positive encouragement.

4. Search for alignment with career development to learn new skills and progress, where possible.

5. Be transparent. Include them in conversations around your business’s situation.

6. Brush up on your own leadership skills. Good leadership is at its most valuable during difficult times.

For businesses fortunate enough to be in more resilient sectors that are starting to rebound, there is a completely different challenge. For these businesses, it’s a question of how best to approach hiring new staff when there is an abundance of qualified candidates available to choose from. We’ve all heard the stories of small businesses in niche sectors that would normally get 50 applicants getting 500 due to the pandemic. Employers of all sizes looking to hire need to have clear filters in place for screening talent. To do this, leaders need to redefine their workplace expectations, understand their company culture and hire alongside this. The businesses that get this right today will be tomorrow’s industry leaders! 

This involves a number of steps, including:

1. Solidify your company purpose and benchmark your company culture

3. Identify the traits that a candidate needs to possess to fit the culture and excel in the role to add value quickly (even with the challenge of remote working and changing policies)

4. Use this selection criteria to screen applications alongside keeping in mind the criteria points that are highest priority 

5. Utilise free online platforms such as the Australian National Talent Registry to screen candidates quickly through automatic matching capabilities.

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