The 3 A’s of Attracting and Retaining Employees Today

It’s no secret that there is a big shift underway in the job market. The “Great Resignation” (or the “Great Reshuffle”) reflects the fact that people are rethinking their careers and considering paths that may be very different from those they were on before the pandemic. A recent survey by Fidelity found that four out of 10 workers are looking to make a job switch in 2022, and almost half (47%) of Gen Z workers said they planned to change jobs this year. With demand high and companies competing for talent, media are trumpeting the news: This might be the year to find that dream job.

With so many people switching careers and jobs, there’s tremendous opportunity in this churn for employers, too. Companies and leaders should be figuring out what it takes to attract the best and brightest talent. What do the folks who have the potential to be high-impact contributors in our organizations want?

Money is one answer to that question, certainly, but after two years of a pandemic, workers are reevaluating priorities. Many want a healthier work/life balance, while others have realized that working from home gives them abundant opportunities beyond the commuting-distance radius. And still others have discovered new passions that they hope to put more time into or pursue as a career.

The fact is these trends have been building for quite some time—the pandemic merely accelerated them. As a consequence, creating a flexible and stimulating work environment where talented individuals can thrive is even more important than ever.

At Fidelity, we were excited to welcome 16,000 new associates to our ranks last year. Still, we’re constantly refining our approach and listening to what our people say they want from an employer. I’m also interested in hearing what my son, a college freshman, says he will look for after he graduates in a few years. Here are a few takeaways I’ve put together—let’s call them the 3As—for companies:

Business Agility: When we envision the workplace of the future, it’s hard to anticipate what’s ahead. But one thing that’s certain is that companies will need to adapt to changing times and needs. Even before Covid-19, Fidelity offered flexible work arrangements—as long as clients were taken care of—but only about 25% of our employees took advantage of it. Even so, I’m grateful we did it, because we were prepared when we needed to shift to servicing clients in a more virtual capacity. Now, in the wake of the pandemic, some companies are adopting a “remote forever” mindset. But in my view a hybrid approach is the right model for the future. Workers who thrive in office environments, where teamwork and camaraderie bloom, also need the flexibility to juggle life and work. Some will prefer more time in the office, others more time at home. Our goal is to provide people with the best of both work environments giving them agency to make sound decisions that balance their needs and those of their colleagues and clients.

Attentive Leadership: While I like to say we have two ears and one mouth for a reason, I learned some time ago that I needed to listen as much as I talk—no easy thing! The pandemic brought this into sharper focus: People need to know that their managers listen and care. The days when managers could say, “Everyone’s got problems, just do your job,” are over. The realities of life during a pandemic are challenging for everyone, managers included. Leaders who listen to employees, learn what they need, and act on those needs, are the ones who attract and retain talent. (By the same token, we all need to listen to our managers too and try and understand what they are experiencing and need from us.)

A New Definition of Achievement: The pandemic has led many people to rethink a lot of things, from the way they manage their time to the purpose of their careers. For me, a successful life includes having dinner at home and making it to my kids’ sports games. And while I’m not rethinking my career, many people from backgrounds other than traditional financial services—educators, liberal arts majors and so on—are. And some of them are joining us at Fidelity and thriving. Broadly speaking, these are people who love to help others, and are attracted to the idea of helping people plan for and finance their future.

Companies that offer flexible work options, that are attentive to workers’ needs, and try to understand what people are looking for in their careers, stand the best chance of attracting and retaining talent. Because the future of work is people seeking what’s most important to them: fulfilling careers that align with their personal values and empathetic employers who will help them balance life and work.

That’s not too much to expect. And the companies that thrive in the Great Reshuffle will be the ones that deliver.


Views expressed are as of the date indicated and may change based on market and other conditions. Unless otherwise noted, the opinions provided are those of the author and not necessarily those of Fidelity Investments.

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This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.

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