Workplace

How to find good talent, and make sure they stick around

Experts discuss how to attract and retain talented employees.

Recruiting and retaining talent in the new world of work

Finding good talent can be difficult. Keeping good talent can be even harder.

So how do you build a solid workforce while also taking care of the whole person, not just the employee in the job?

Protocol’s Amber Burton spoke with Brian Elliott, executive leader of the Future Forum and SVP of Slack; Jennifer Kim, founder of the Startup Recruiting Bootcamp; Zohra Yafai, vice president of Global Talent Acquisition at Cisco; and Anna Fraser, chief people officer at Sonos, about the best ways to recruit — and hold onto — talented tech employees.

Here are some of the key takeaways.

The Great Resignation is more than a trend.

Elliott prefers to call the Great Resignation “The Great Rethink.” Employees are reconsidering what they want, with flexibility of where and when they work being a major factor in deciding to leave their jobs. In a 2021 Future Forum survey of 10,000 office workers, 58% of employees said they were open to new opportunities, with flexibility of schedule and work location being the second-most-important deciding factor after compensation, Elliott said.

“People's expectations around work have changed,” Elliott said. “Not only in terms of the purpose of their organization, not only in terms of career development, but most critically around flexibility.”

Employees also have more bargaining power. Long gone are the days of employees believing that they need their employer more than their employer needs them, said Kim. The pandemic has created an environment in which the worker is essential, giving them more leverage to move to a workplace that respects them and gives them what they need. The Great Resignation is “exposing the ways that employers have been failing employees: [They’re] not adapting quickly enough to this world,” said Kim.

The employers that’ll beat the odds are the ones that have their ears open, according to Yafai. Leaders need to listen to the changes their employees want, especially as needs evolve amid an ever-changing pandemic.

“We have to build this organizational culture of listening, because this is something … that’s going to stay,” said Yafai. “Hopefully a positive thing that can come out of it is continued listening, adapting and being realistic about expectations.”

Employees want more than just extra zeros on the paycheck.

Along with shifts in the power balance between employees and their companies, the needs of employees are changing as well. Accelerated by the pandemic, employees are looking for more than just compensation, said Fraser. They want meaningful, purpose-driven work and career development as well. To do this, companies need to be “valuing the human, not just the person in the role,” said Fraser.

“Employees want to pursue passion; they want to have impact,” said Fraser. “They want to work in organizations that are going to develop them, not just give them a paycheck.”

And of course, they don’t want to be worked into the ground. Yafai said wellbeing benefits — i.e., gym memberships, 401K matching and stipends for remote work — aren’t just “cool benefits,” but rather they’re “core benefits” that, though they can be costly for companies, are necessary in supporting the overall health of the employee. These can help avoid “mass scale burnout,” Yafai said.

Employees also want openness, honesty and vulnerability from leadership, said Fraser. Because workforces are often working thousands of miles away from one another, it’s less common to connect with your boss over a coffee or a beer. Having open conversations and getting to know each other to the best of your ability is critical.

“Be vulnerable and get to know one another in a way that's going to drive that connection and that purpose to the organization as a whole,” said Fraser

A focus on diversity, equity and inclusion helps everyone.

Having a focus on diversity in recruiting shouldn’t be thought of as a reaction to a major crisis or event, said Kim.

“I think, given the events of the last few years, the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, that was a very reactive moment in some ways,” Kim said. “And while it was very important, I do think that the misconception around DEI is that it's purely reactionary.”

She looks at diversity, equity and inclusion as a “forcing function” to make sure that hiring processes work for everyone. This means looking at hiring processes to see where people drop out and who is dropping out to discover what is exclusionary. Kim gave the example of a lengthy test given in an application process: People that have less time to to spend on that application are often caregivers or those with extra responsibility in their personal lives.

“That doesn't mean, ‘Oh, I guess the people from underrepresented backgrounds are just not a good fit for us,’” said Kim. “It means your process needs to be worked through.”

The same goes for deciding how much flexibility of work times and locations to give employees, said Elliott. Employees from marginalized backgrounds often value more flexibility at work than their white counterparts, according to the Future Forum survey.

“A sense of belonging that grew over the course of the past two years, especially among Black employees and Hispanic Latinx employees, is in part because you reduced the costs of code switching and the impact of microaggressions at work that are in a continuous work environment,” said Elliott.

Women with children, Elliott said, were found to value more schedule flexibility. But the risk of this ends up being proximity bias. To avoid this, Slack implemented what Elliott called “speed limits,” with its executives agreeing among themselves to only come into the office a maximum of three days a week. Slack’s CTO and chief product officer also moved all of their review meetings to Zoom, he said, “as a way of making sure that you didn't have this pressure for people to show up in the office in order to be ‘in the room where it happened.’”

This story was updated to reflect that Slack executives agree agreed to come into the office a maximum of three days a week.

Enterprise

Why CrowdStrike wants to be a broader enterprise IT player

The company, which grew from $1 billion in annual recurring revenue to $2 billion in just 18 months, is expanding deeper within the cybersecurity market and into the wider IT space as well.

CrowdStrike is well positioned at a time when CISOs are fed up with going to dozens of different vendors to meet their security needs.

Image: Protocol

CrowdStrike is finding massive traction in areas outside its core endpoint security products, setting up the company to become a major player in other key security segments such as identity protection as well as in IT categories beyond cybersecurity.

Already one of the biggest names in cybersecurity for the past decade, CrowdStrike now aspires to become a more important player in areas within the wider IT landscape such as data observability and IT operations, CrowdStrike co-founder and CEO George Kurtz told Protocol in a recent interview.

Keep Reading Show less
Kyle Alspach

Kyle Alspach ( @KyleAlspach) is a senior reporter at Protocol, focused on cybersecurity. He has covered the tech industry since 2010 for outlets including VentureBeat, CRN and the Boston Globe. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and can be reached at kalspach@protocol.com.

Sponsored Content

Great products are built on strong patents

Experts say robust intellectual property protection is essential to ensure the long-term R&D required to innovate and maintain America's technology leadership.

Every great tech product that you rely on each day, from the smartphone in your pocket to your music streaming service and navigational system in the car, shares one important thing: part of its innovative design is protected by intellectual property (IP) laws.

From 5G to artificial intelligence, IP protection offers a powerful incentive for researchers to create ground-breaking products, and governmental leaders say its protection is an essential part of maintaining US technology leadership. To quote Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo: "intellectual property protection is vital for American innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Keep Reading Show less
James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.
Fintech

Election markets are far from a sure bet

Kalshi has big-name backing for its plan to offer futures contracts tied to election results. Will that win over a long-skeptical regulator?

Whether Kalshi’s election contracts could be considered gaming or whether they serve a true risk-hedging purpose is one of the top questions the CFTC is weighing in its review.

Photo illustration: Getty Images; Protocol

Crypto isn’t the only emerging issue on the CFTC’s plate. The futures regulator is also weighing a fintech sector that has similarly tricky political implications: election bets.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has set Oct. 28 as a date by which it hopes to decide whether the New York-based startup Kalshi can offer a form of wagering up to $25,000 on which party will control the House of Representatives and Senate after the midterms. PredictIt, another online market for election trading, has also sued the regulator over its decision to cancel a no-action letter.

Keep Reading Show less
Ryan Deffenbaugh
Ryan Deffenbaugh is a reporter at Protocol focused on fintech. Before joining Protocol, he reported on New York's technology industry for Crain's New York Business. He is based in New York and can be reached at rdeffenbaugh@protocol.com.
Enterprise

The Uber verdict shows why mandatory disclosure isn't such a bad idea

The conviction of Uber's former chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, seems likely to change some minds in the debate over proposed cyber incident reporting regulations.

Executives and boards will now be "a whole lot less likely to cover things up," said one information security veteran.

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

If nothing else, the guilty verdict delivered Wednesday in a case involving Uber's former security head will have this effect on how breaches are handled in the future: Executives and boards, according to information security veteran Michael Hamilton, will be "a whole lot less likely to cover things up."

Following the conviction of former Uber chief security officer Joe Sullivan, "we likely will get better voluntary reporting" of cyber incidents, said Hamilton, formerly the chief information security officer of the City of Seattle, and currently the founder and CISO at cybersecurity vendor Critical Insight.

Keep Reading Show less
Kyle Alspach

Kyle Alspach ( @KyleAlspach) is a senior reporter at Protocol, focused on cybersecurity. He has covered the tech industry since 2010 for outlets including VentureBeat, CRN and the Boston Globe. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and can be reached at kalspach@protocol.com.

Climate

Delta and MIT are running flight tests to fix contrails

The research team and airline are running flight tests to determine if it’s possible to avoid the climate-warming effects of contrails.

Delta and MIT just announced a partnership to test how to mitigate persistent contrails.

Photo: Gabriela Natiello/Unsplash

Contrails could be responsible for up to 2% of all global warming, and yet how they’re formed and how to mitigate them is barely understood by major airlines.

That may be changing.

Keep Reading Show less
Michelle Ma

Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol covering climate. Previously, she was a news editor of live journalism and special coverage for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer at Wirecutter. She can be reached at mma@protocol.com.

Latest Stories
Bulletins