The pandemic isn’t over, but talent is on the move as never before — both physically and digitally at the moment. Attracting and retaining young professionals will take a whole different level of strategy from the corporate management — wherever they may be, including in the cloud.
The continued rise of finance and tech ecosystems across the globe, from Chile to Russia to Jakarta, further expanded the war for talent. Online platforms such as Slack, and Jira cleared the way for more flexible work, writes TED speaker and best-selling author Dr. Parag Khanna.
The phrase “war for talent” is typically associated with the quainter 1990s, when it referred to the competition among New York and London banks for the hottest traders.
In the 2000s, as big tech surged after the online company bubble, we saw more competition across more sectors, with consulting firms and Silicon Valley offering big salaries, benefits, and bonuses. After the global financial crisis hit in 2008, the economy cooled and employers gained leverage over current employees while professionals became risk-averse, less inclined to take big risks on entrepreneurship or pursuing remote work.
Even during this risk-averse moment, job relocation opportunities expanded into new horizons. The global financial crisis wasn’t all that global after all and finally, people could still find economic optimism and opportunity outside the West. The “war for talent” had finally become global.
In the 2020s, we are poised to see these remote work-friendly shifts continue, but actually in hyperdrive. Countries will compete with each other to lure high-achievers in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, biotech, and other key fields, offering tax-free “golden visas” and even citizenship to bring talent to their shores. Before the pandemic, only a couple of countries such as Estonia had “nomad visa” schemes; now about 75 nations do. Even within countries, provinces are racing to win over remote workers and innovators.
The scuffle among companies to attract high-performers is also escalating, with in-demand workers not only negotiating overcompensation and benefits but also greater flexibility around their lifestyle and wellness priorities -which have been triggered much by the pandemic.
Some believe they can lure employees back to offices with the promise of an escape from home. Others are eliminating office space and seeking to impose cost adjustments on workers looking to live elsewhere. In between are firms that are leasing space in regional hubs and asking employees to live close enough for weekly or monthly meetups, or to airports for when business travel picks up again. These companies must compete with a new breed of cloud-first, geography-free companies that have none of the administrative baggage of incumbent firms.
The post-pandemic world is uncharted territory for the world economy. Even as trade tensions push North America, Europe, and Asia towards greater regionalism, many workers are moving in the opposite direction, as they seek to relocate and work for up-and-coming firms across the planet.
Talent must become a priority for companies. Issues like compensation, internal job rotations, upskilling opportunities, crafting a purpose-driven company mission, and offering new kinds of flexibility to workers will be essential if firms want to keep employees and find new ones. There are nearly 2 billion location-independent workers in the world, those who know where to find lower taxes, good weather, and four-day workweeks. Companies will need to learn the new rules of the game if they want to stay ahead.
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