Companies Must Enshrine Love As The Principal Corporate Value To Attract And Retain Talent
Instilling a genuine recognition of the contribution that professionals make to a company—and treating them as human beings rather than as fixed assets—is key to retaining talent.
This requires a fundamental cultural shift within the corporate sector towards Love-based leadership, but will reap significant performance and bottom-line benefits in the long term, as senior international organisation professional and leadership and culture change management expert Yetunde Hofmann explains…
By Yetunde Hofmann
Love is the only way in which companies of any walk in life, and across any geography and industry, can attract, retain and engage talent.
The notion of the ‘War for Talent’ is one that has been around for ages. It is one that many organisations far and wide, spanning a variety of industries, believed that winning this war would be key to their success, and that would be the purveyor of competitive advantage.
Whilst the language of war has since evolved and has been replaced by a softer, more conciliatory tone, it remains clear that the source of advancement and profit for any organisation lies in its ability to not only attract the very best of talent but also in its ability to retain and keep that talent performing at the highest level possible—and keeping it motivated, engaged and loyal.
Leadership and culture change management expertYetunde Hofmann, author of Beyond Engagement.
To attract real talent now requires more than presenting a package of competitive pay and benefits. This is only the starting point—a basic hygiene factor that won’t even draw a pause from the candidate if it’s wrong. Indeed, several companies to varying degrees have made strides in presenting a good image and case for the attraction of talent. The emergence and proliferation of various employee-focused policies have contributed not only to the attraction of talent but also to the retention of that talent. Policies around engagement, wellbeing, flexible working and such like will, indeed, be made more popular thanks to the impact and forthcoming aftermath of COVID19. Policies also of diversity and inclusion, business ethics and ethical behaviour have also risen in visibility due to COVID19, and the realisation of the fact that a decision made in one part of the world can impact people and organisations in other parts that may not immediately come to mind.
Yet getting the very best out of that talent once in the company remains a challenge, and the more skilled and knowledgeable the talent is, the more “in demand’ their experience is and the harder it is to retain and to get the very best out of them. This is evidenced by the continuous engagement and productivity initiatives instigated by the British Government and the research, articles and commentary provided by leading consultancies and academia.
The Government’s sign up to the UN’s global goals for sustainable development, and the pledge to reduce poverty and inequality across the world whilst halting the effects of climate change, are commendable. This is buoyed up by the increase in high-profile companies, including private equity firms, espousing the importance of Purpose, sustainable investments, and the benefits of triple bottom line (TBL) reporting advocated by the B-Corp bodies. All this has accelerated the emergence of the expression and importance of behaviours like collaboration, kindness, helpfulness, selflessness, empathy and compassion. Indeed, there are those business leaders that believe that the future of work can only be made successful for companies who demonstrate strongly those softer behaviours towards their people, consumers and customers.
The reason why, however, that the holy grail of unlocking the performance and potential of the very best talent in companies is treaded over and over again—that is, the ability to innovate; to be creative; to discover new horizons, products, processes; to do things faster, newer, first; meeting and exceeding the client, customer and consumer’s needs whilst pleasing the investors—is because the most challenging, yet most important and critical solution, is avoided.
That solution is an unashamed intention and focus on the introduction of Love as a way of working and as a way of being. Love, as I define it in a corporate sense, is an unconditional acceptance of self—all of who you are—and an unconditional acceptance of another. When this is in place, it enables a genuine and authentic recognition of what an individual has to contribute to the success of their company. It enables a willingness to present ideas, to speak up, to share freely and without judgement or retribution, because the backdrop of the exchange is one in which there is genuine psychological safety: an acceptance of the person that is a skilled and knowledgeable professional firstly, and solely, as a human being and not as a thinly-veiled means to an end—the delivery of the bottom line. This is because when organisations present a Loving culture as the context in which they plan and execute all of their work, it establishes an environment and a way of working in which all of their people can be free to be themselves. They become an environment in which communication is made freely; in which no idea is a bad one and no request is viewed with suspicion. They become an environment in which an award of a salary increase (or not) is not a prime consideration for staying; in which the reasons given for challenging a piece of information are easily accepted, and in which the corridors of gossip and second guessing become quickly extinct.
It is no myth that people attract people; employees leave bad bosses and poor leadership produces dysfunction, confusion, and low morale, leading eventually to negative commercial results. The higher up the echelons of power in a company the individuals are, the more sophisticated and hidden from sight, yet prevalent, some of these negatives can be. When an individual, no matter how senior or unique their talent, is valued and is treated as human—a person who feels, thinks and does—and genuinely so, then the opportunity to create genuinely extraordinary results becomes possible.
This is why Love is the only answer. It is the most critical leadership and organisational capability that a company can have. It is nothing less than the blueprint for competitive advantage and differentiated success. The anticipation of breakthroughs in profit and results beyond the bottom line, as well as breakthroughs in the quality of contribution to consumer and customer needs that can be made, demand that love is at least examined. History has demonstrated that nothing great or significantly important comes easy or on a whim.
But when you genuinely invest the time in ensuring that every single one of your people can be accepted for all of who they are—warts and all—and that every transaction and exchange is rooted in this place, then you can march on with conviction into the future. You can progress knowing that popular retention initiatives and the band wagon of diversity and inclusion policies, roles and responsibilities, plus the pangs of uneasy compliance to ethics and the requisite of modern-day governance policies, soon disappear because your company now operates against the backdrop of institutionalised Love.
Beyond Engagement – The Value of Love-Based Leadership in Organisations by Yetunde Hofmann (Authors Place Press) is out now in paperbackand eBook formats on Amazon, priced £14.91 and £7.99 respectively. For more information, visit www.yetundehofmann.com