Because we’re in the midst of a once-in-a-generation economy-wide disruption, we need to be ready to address post-pandemic talent challenges. As a leader, how ready are you?

When we look at workforce data across the U. S., we’re seeing a seismic reshuffling. In the past decade, quit rates have never been higher — especially among women — for both lower wage and professional roles. Conversely, job openings are at all-time highs across the economy. Knowing that the conservative estimate of the cost of replacing an individual employee can range from half to two times the employee’s annual salary, being ready to address post-pandemic talent challenges is a business imperative.

At ManpowerGroup Talent Solutions – Right Management, we’re focusing on what’s driving these seismic shifts. We call it The Great Reawakening (#TheGreatReawakening).

As female leaders, our challenges and opportunities are greater than ever before.

Challenge-wise, according to the McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2020 and its March 2021 updated research, there are several:

  • More than one in four women report they’re considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce entirely.
  • Women are feeling more exhausted, burned out, and under pressure than men.
  • Mothers are more likely than fathers to worry that their performance is being negatively judged due to their caregiving.
  • Women in senior leadership positions are more likely than men at the same level to feel as though they’re “always on.”

The challenges outlined represent those we might face individually; they certainly represent challenges we face as leaders.

Despite the challenges, the opportunities are also significant. As female leaders, we generally have the edge over our male counterparts thanks to our ability to blend empathy with decisive action. We must focus on retaining and engaging existing employees and attracting high-quality talent.

Additionally, we must help individuals address whatever they’re experiencing and have a sense of belonging in our organizations, which makes all the difference. Research shows a strong relationship between a higher sense of belonging and high levels of productivity and retention.

  • Enable Teams: Teams that work well together deliver better, faster results — hybrid work models add an extra layer of complexity.
  • Accelerate Onboarding: Experience-driven onboarding improves new hire retention and boosts productivity.
  • Create an Inclusive Culture: Business value is unlocked when all individuals feel they belong and are empowered to bring their best.
  • Boost Career Growth: Companies attract, engage and retain talent when they purposely focus on career development and help employees.

Let’s do a deeper dive into Boosting Career Growth. Here are four things you can do as a leader to cultivate a sense of belonging:

1. Have conversations with your staff that allow them to see their future within the organization.

Start by discussing how they see themselves within the organization and get more specific by discussing their fit with their current role. It’s important as leaders that we understand where they need support or additional capability building. Ask open-ended questions such as:

  • How do you want to progress your skillset?
  • What role do you want to have in the future?
  • What drives your happiness on a day-to-day basis?

2. Put all those pieces together to paint a picture of how they can succeed on their terms to meet both organizational and individual goals.

Ideas include helping:

  • connect them with others in the organization;
  • capture strengths and areas of development; and
  • create a development plan that helps them identify future opportunities.

3. Borrow a best practice from Deloitte and implement a “returnship” program, which is basically an internship to help women re-enter the workforce.

4. Reach out to your networks to see how we can lift each other.

Our ManpowerGroup President, Becky Frankiewicz, shared her perspective recently on Bloomberg: “We’re in the middle of the great reawakening. The crisis has changed us. We are changed. People are reprioritizing ‘one life’ — they want to live from work vs. work from home, and we’re in the middle of this huge dynamic of an empowered worker in our country. We have an opportunity as leaders to go forward into the new next vs. back to what was our previous normal.”

People are your best investment, and now is the time. How will you lead your organization forward into the new next?

For more discussion on this topic, please join us at the Women in Retail Leadership Summit in Miami on Oct. 12 for our breakout group, Beyond COVID: Challenges to “The Great Reawakening” in the New World of Work.