Maybe, just maybe, after two years of varying degrees of misery, this @#$! pandemic is drawing to a close. I know I’m enjoying imagining what life will be like — full restaurants, a lively arts scene, relaxed big family gatherings, opportunities for travel. I’m definitely looking forward to a big burning of the masks in my backyard firepit. 

There’s one thing I can’t picture quite as clearly though: The workplace, and people in it. 

It seems likely that work will be much more varied than it was B.C. (Before COVID). Some companies will return to full-time-in-the-office while others will be fully work-from-home with distributed teams. Most will likely fall somewhere in the middle, exploring various kinds of hybrid schedules. We’ll all be experimenting to find what works best for our organizations and our employees.

And who will our employees be? Surely everyone’s bound to change at least a little after two years of quasi-isolation. The Wall Street Journal recently published an interesting article by Dorie Clark listing some common types of employees that leaders will need to consider as we emerge from the pandemic:

Ambitious employees
How to spot them: Doubled down during the pandemic, focused on advancement
How to retain them: Ask them about their goals and develop a plan. These are your future leaders.

Work-to-live advocates
How to spot them: Life outside work is most important, want a manageable job and a steady paycheck 
How to retain them: Value their steadiness and provide the flexibility they desire.

Double-duty professionals
How to spot them: Ambitious but facing short-term family caregiving challenges, mostly women 
How to retain them: Provide flexibility and support now so they can step up when they’re ready.

How to spot them: Longing for the social aspects of work
How to retain them: Take time to converse on a more meaningful level, not just transactional.

How to spot them: Don’t have to work for financial reasons, motivated by connections and opportunities to learn 
How to retain them: Recognize their central motivation and offer opportunities to connect, grow, and tackle interesting challenges.

Disoriented new hires
How to spot them: Confused about company culture, lacking connection
How to retain them: Whatever you’ve been doing to integrate them, do more.

Here’s the key takeaway: Contrary to much of what you may have heard, retaining your valuable employees is not just about chucking more money at them. Instead, it’s about understanding them as people and providing what they want and need. That’s nothing new, but it’s especially important at this complicated moment. The process may be time-consuming for leaders, but it pays off big-time. 


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