It’s always been said that your people are your organisation’s most valuable asset, and that mantra has come into even greater focus in the last 18 months. Understanding your employees, listening to their preferences and realising what makes them tick has become a key skill for HR departments and senior management teams in all sectors.

During the pandemic, many businesses placed increased demands on their workforce, often asking them to do more for less, or to switch from an office-based existence to remote home working, without thinking about the short- and longer-term impact. And many of these businesses are now experiencing the fallout, with what has been dubbed ‘the great resignation’ taking hold. It’s been a challenging period, with everyone to some degree having to adapt to measures such as increased sanitisation, social distancing and remote working, and they have changed the way we live our lives at all levels. But it’s now clear that the businesses that are thriving are the ones that have prioritised empathy and employee engagement, and that have increased their understanding of behavioural data.

So now, as we seek to return to relative normality, the business world is faced with another unique challenge: the evolving hybrid workplace. And with this comes the requirement for talent optimisation practices, which are more important than ever.

The essence of talent optimisation is to nurture your people, and to ensure that they’re not only engaged, but also inspired, because they’re fundamental to creating cohesive, super-productive teams. In reality, team leaders need to analyse what causes staff to become disengaged and burnt out, and that can be achieved by balancing behavioural data with workplace diversity.

Accenture recently reported that, when surveyed, 83% of workers said they’d prefer to operate in a flexible model moving forward, in other words one which permits them to work remotely for at least a quarter of the time. Interestingly, the same study revealed that nearly two thirds of high-growth companies are already set up for hybrid working, and that nearly 70% of ‘no-growth’ businesses were still focused on deciding where their people will work.

In this New Normal, it’s apparent that flexibility generates growth, and talent optimisation can deliver that flexibility by bringing business and people strategies into line. Handled correctly, people data can be very powerful here, as it can unlock huge potential within the office and outside too. The more we learn about ourselves – what drives us, what frightens us, and what we really need to be happy and productive – the better direction our lives can go in. Whether you’re still recruiting over Zoom or Teams, or you continue to struggle with remote onboarding, understanding the talent at your disposal is massive.

To hold disengagement at bay, it’s important to be aware of how differently people work and respond in a hybrid environment. This might include working out:

• who your most extrovert employees are
• who requires more detailed information and resources shared with them in advance
• which methods of communication individual employees prefer and respond best to
• whether simple changes such as drawing up an agenda for remote meetings makes them more productive
• whether some of the team enjoy shooting the breeze for a few minutes before the official meeting begins

As Rosa dos Santos, owner of Exact Sourcing, confirms, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve already adopted a hybrid working model or you’re remaining entirely office-based for the foreseeable future, talent optimisation will be key to your organisation’s success. ‘As leaders, your senior management team need to consider the variety of ways in which your staff members will react to the new ways of working which Covid has generated,’ says Rosa. ‘We’re big fans of behavioural data, as we believe that demonstrating an understanding of how different people react is a great way of generating trust. And in that sense it interconnects with the science that informs the talent optimisation discipline by offering valuable insights for any leadership team wishing to better understand and maximise the potential of their people. The risk of burnout and disengagement is a very real one, and if Covid has done anything, it’s certainly led to more employees deciding to quit rather than suffering in a role that no longer suits them.’

Exact Sourcing is a recruitment agency in Cambridge and Newmarket, and we also serve Ely, Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Royston and Sawston. If you’re looking to embrace hybrid working and would like to understand how talent optimisation can benefit your business, why not contact us for an initial conversation?