C-Suite Agenda

What You Need to Know About Adopting the New Business Model to Attract Top Talent

Sue Bingham

The ways of working have changed. Most of this can be chalked up to the pandemic, but other factors — such as talent preferences — are at play. So, the question remains: How exactly do organizations establish environments where the new business model can thrive?

It’s been a long two years, but the business world is finally moving into the post-pandemic era. Some companies chose to return to the office. Precautions were taken to ensure a safe return, with leadership teams holding daily meetings to determine policies to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. In fact, more than 88% of businesses with 500 or more employees required them to wear some type of protective gear while onsite. Other precautionary measures were also employed, such as temperature screenings, vaccinations, heightened cleaning protocols, and so on.

However, many companies have decided to remain remote or adopt hybrid models. Lockdowns forced businesses to rethink their workplace models and equip their teams with remote capabilities. Surveys found that the number of employees working from home jumped from 20% before the pandemic to over 70% by the end of 2020. Although certain organizations encourage employees to commute to the office a couple of days a week, others have recognized that the same tasks can be done remotely (if not more productively).

Consequently, flexible work is here to stay. According to a Slack survey, 72% of workers prefer a hybrid model, and 13% prefer telecommuting. Organizations that choose to ignore these trends could find themselves in jeopardy amidst what’s been called the “Great Reshuffle.” During the pandemic, employees got a taste of flexible work, and they’re not eager to give up the newfound benefits. Companies that don’t adopt flexible work models will have to fight to not only retain, but also attract talent.

A Mixed Response to Remote Work Arrangements

Many companies are understandably resistant to nontraditional work models. They tend to believe that “what made us successful will keep us successful,” and they worry that offering flexibility will cause a loss of control. Most of these organizations are large, with a fair amount of bureaucracy, which has obscured the writing on the wall: The future demands greater agility. As a leadership development consultant, I’ve witnessed at least five executives leave billion-dollar organizations to lead new companies in more progressive ways — that, or start their own ventures to be more agile and attractive to younger workers.

Other organizations have simply acquiesced to the idea, approaching the situation as if there’s no other path forward than accepting the “new normal.” This isn’t necessarily the best approach, but these companies are at least questioning the causes of turnover. They’re exploring the changing future and the type of culture most likely to attract and retain talent. They’re also experimenting with different schedules, part-time work opportunities, outsourced projects, freelance workers, and more. These companies recognize that everything from benefits to organizational structures needs to be reevaluated. Otherwise, the competition will win out on the talent front.

Then, of course, there are organizations that have long believed that their employees will guide them. More often than not, they already experience lower turnover and less executive stress. Leaders in these organizations challenge team members to match their business objectives with the most productive ways of working. They lean toward self-management and try to create safe environments for experimentation. It isn’t uncommon for these companies to engage in open and honest discussions around managing challenges, conflicts, and inevitable change.

Building a Better Organization in the Post-Coronavirus World

Although an organization might not be ready to make the move to flexible work arrangements, there are other ways to ensure operations are better equipped for the post-pandemic future. Here are just a few ideas they can use to get started:

  1. Practice self-awareness.
    Self-awareness is especially important for senior executives, as power can become an addiction. Autocratic power can be a major obstacle to nurturing the autonomy necessary for agility. Leaders should take a step back and weigh their “trust orientations.” Does their trust diminish with each organizational layer or department? How much trust is there in the people furthest away from the C-suite? Today, flexibility is a requirement in many job seekers’ eyes. Leaders must feel comfortable enough to relinquish some of their control.
  2. Focus on culture and values.
    Although leaders need to remain open to future trends in business, technology, and markets, creating a culture of commitment can be sustained through shared values and a sense of real ownership. These are far from new concepts, but they’re frequently relegated to lower priorities. Remember, people are now interviewing companies for fit — not the other way around. Organizations must prioritize culture and values to attract top talent and compete with the many companies in full-on recruitment mode.
  3. Embrace the concept of experimentation.
    In the past, management focused on doing it right the first time to avoid rework. Today, speed is the new currency. The goal is to get the minimal viable product to market as fast as possible and continually improve it. Instilling excitement around experimentation can quell the fear of failure in teams, allowing for more innovation and speed. Leaders should experiment with new concepts and processes to arrive at the right solution for their organizations.

The ways of working have changed. There’s no getting around that. It’s up to company leaders to establish work environments that embrace the future instead of avoiding it. Otherwise, talent will look elsewhere for employment opportunities.


Written by Sue Bingham.
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Sue Bingham
Sue Bingham, founder and principal of HPWP Group, has been leading the positive business movement for 35 years. She’s driven to create high-performing workplaces by partnering with leaders who value team members’ contributions.


Sue Bingham is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with her through LinkedIn.