The idea of returning to normal is a ship that has long since sailed. That’s hardly a controversial statement. As early as April 2020, the cliché term “new normal” became one of the COVID-era buzzwords coined to describe the monumental impact of the pandemic.
The business of parking itself has had to adapt and adjust to remain viable for the parking industry. While the early days of the pandemic were largely doom and gloom, many parking companies found that new ways of engaging with customers presented an opportunity to move forward and innovate.
As most of us are now focused on the future, parking employers need to let go of any notions that work will ever be what traditional standards would classify as normal, even a new normal. Accepting and embracing this fact will be the difference between those companies that win and those that don’t.
It’s not a talent war; it’s a new reality.
Hiring over the past year has been hard, to put it mildly. Many parking employers are experiencing unprecedented numbers of employees resigning, open positions remaining unfilled, and candidates declining job offers.
The answer to these challenges doesn’t come down to adopting a new strategy, but instead adopting a new mindset. Workers now have the leverage. It’s not easy to hire employees to fill newly created positions, and it is certainly not easy to replace current talent that leaves.
The Experience is Everything
Parking companies have recognized the importance of customer experience for years. However, the positive experience of an organization’s number one stakeholder - the employee - is still considered by many to be a “nice to have” versus a “must-have.”
Employers must offer opportunities that people want. Whether it’s the focus of the role, the compensation provided, or the company environment, attracting and retaining talent will only happen when what employers offer aligns with what people want.
What do Workers Want?
Freedom. The top priority among most employees today is the desire for work arrangements that let them meet the pressures of their personal lives while also maintaining high levels of performance at work. The explosion of people working remotely during the pandemic gave many a newfound taste of work-life blend and greater autonomy. It also demonstrated that such arrangements were hardly disastrous, and many workers (as well as their managers) found this change didn’t injure productivity.
While remote work arrangements have driven this prioritization for freedom during the pandemic, remote work isn’t the only way to offer this to employees. After all, the “one-size-fits-all” is not practical for either employers or their employees. Mandating remote work or in-office work is hardly freedom. Redesigning work to include options such as remote work, flexible schedules, and four-day workweeks are all ways to provide employees with varied arrangements.
Environment. Today, the hiring market is so cutthroat that freedom alone isn’t enough to attract and retain talent. People also want to work for companies that value their emotional and physical well-being. Employers that can demonstrate and deliver an environment where employees feel valued will create employee loyalty and a positive reputation, both critical components of attracting and retaining talent. It’s not just about the money. When employees love the work they do, the people they work with, and feel appreciated and empowered, they are unlikely to switch jobs for a pay raise that isn’t life changing.
Potential. The buzz on the street today is people want meaningful work. This want is something every organization can offer every employee. Meaningful doesn’t have to mean each role in your company has a stimulating or fulfilling set of responsibilities and duties. Meaningful work can be provided to employees by developing and investing in them. Employers who give their workers opportunities to upgrade their skills offer them a future and potential. Whether this is accomplished through in-house training, college education reimbursement, or a transparent career path of advancement within the organization, providing people with the potential for a bright future is no longer optional, especially for frontline and low-paying jobs.
The Future of Work is Flexible
The pandemic disrupted almost every aspect of our lives to such an extent that we can’t ever go back to before. Nor should we want to. The last two years have hardly been easy, but they have created an opportunity to innovate work. They have created more choices than ever before, not only for employees, but also for employers. But to benefit from the pandemic-induced work transformation, employers need to adapt their mindset and be flexible to the desires and needs of their workforce.
Kathleen Laney, President and Executive Search Consultant at Laney Solutions can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org