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The Quiet Anxiety Afflicting Job Boards & Talent Tech Companies

By Peter Weddle, Founder & CEO TAtech

We live in an unpredictable time. Neither respected business models nor our own work experience offer a clear picture of where the economy is (in the North American and EMEA markets) or how it’s likely to affect our customers’ needs and practices.

However, one thing is certain in such an unpredictable environment: no matter how well a job board or talent technology company is faring, its employees are quietly anxious. The omnipresent uncertainty distracts and increasingly alarms them.

Dealing with that anxiety, therefore, has now become a business imperative. Here’s how the authors of a recent report from McKinsey & Company put it:

“In a world of hybrid and remote work, both on- and off-site employees are looking for more connectivity, more purpose, and a sense of how and where they fit into a company’s long-term talent strategy. When workers don’t find those things in an organization, they disengage, retention takes a hit, and performance and productivity can suffer. In fact, McKinsey research on employee productivity suggests that employee disengagement could cost a median-size S&P 500 company between $228 million and $355 million per year in lost productivity.”

Now, McKinsey is talking about the impact on companies in general, but the threat of disengagement is also real for TA solution providers in particular. Uncertainty among employers translates into uncertainty for job boards and talent technology companies, and that situation in turn undermines their employees’ confidence in and contribution to those solution providers. No matter how senior they are or how important their role, somewhere in the back of their minds, there’s a voice asking “Am I going to be laid off?” and that anxiety inevitably undermines their work.

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So, What’s to Be Done?

McKinsey recommends that companies take five steps – what it calls “power moves” – to deal with this rising tide of quiet anxiety. They’re listed below with my interpretation:

“Don’t just tell – show.” Provide proof via data, practices, policies and modeling by leaders that the company has a viable plan for dealing with uncertainty and is implementing it.

“Don’t assign – enroll.” Don’t make participation in the plan a requirement, but instead work to convince employees it’s in their best interest to be involved.

“Shake it up – all of it.” Dealing with uncertainly is not a trivial undertaking, so the plan’s scope must be broad and deep enough to be effective and credible to employees.

“Connect the dots.” Enlist the support of influencers in the organization and give them the tools and time they need to “sell” the plan internally.

“Remember, it’s personal.” The company must understand (and act as if it does) that the plan and its ability to address uncertainty affects each employee’s sense of security and wellbeing.

McKinsey sees these steps as the pathway to a company’s cultural transformation in a time of rapid change. That may be so, but for job boards and talent technology companies, they can also provide a framework for blunting the impact of employees’ quiet anxiety in the face of an uncertain economy.

    Food for Thought,

    Peter Weddle has authored or edited over two dozen books and been a columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions.