Nicole Martin, founder, HRBoost

The Talent Landscape is NOW your Biggest Threat, or is it?

In 2010, I founded HRBoost and I had a big vision. I aimed to bring JOY and PURPOSE to people through their work. Today, I have nearly twenty (20) Boosters that are more than employees, they are people I respect and admire. I pray each day they see me as more than a “boss” and rather someone they can respect and admire. When HRBoost was founded, it was the only HR Shared Services firm of its kind that blends virtual service with embedded presence, providing a dedicated team and at the clients’ pace and budget delivering strategic HR. We like to say, strategic HR, day one, employee one!

Back then, my first client was my first-born child. I had earned the privilege to consult and work on my own terms. Little did I know, I was not the only working mother who had earned skill through years of experience/education that desired to be “mommy” and yet still exercise intellectual potential all the while not sacrificing my earnings. Today, nearly every person on my team is a parent, and some are even grandparents.  I am humbled to see them deliver excellence to our clients while playing in our intellectual playground a.k.a the “office”. For us, the word “office” became a verb long ago and performance is measured by impact. Commitment is not measured by physical presence but rather the level of collaboration against execution through the work itself.

Amidst the Pandemic, something fascinating has taken place. The world is acknowledging the challenge of working families and the fact that they represent a third of the workforce. Recently, I discovered Maven, the largest virtual clinic for women’s and family health. They partnered with a Great Place to Work® to conduct the largest-ever study of working parents. The data says it all. Parents are diverse and families can be made up from any subset of humans. What once was standard benefits plan design (e.g., Compensation, Fair Management, Participation/Involvement, Opportunity for Advancement/Career Path as well as the benefits themselves) is no longer going to be enough to retain your skilled talent. Nearly every company has changed and/or adapted their policies amidst Covid-19. Some were legally required while other, newer programs and benefits emerged to become the new, must haves to achieve talent retention. The need for businesses to invest in the challenges their talent has been facing has been critical to not only keeping the business alive but also keeping the people that serve the business working. Women have long been an opportunity for businesses. The fact remains that 57% of women that become mothers fail to return to work after taking their initial maternity leave[i]. So, gender equity has always been a factor, but in the United States there is even more happening.  Racial unrest has been an ongoing wave, comprising protests and riots, against systemic racism towards black people in the US, notably in the form of police violence[ii]. The impacts of these events have confronted the business community to act. Diversity and Inclusion officer and management positions were staffed, donations, public statements and commitments were made. The fact remains that the results of these events will reveal for years to come as decisions are being made now. The now evidence however is that the events of late have resulted, despite years of progress, in gender and diversity taking a direct negative hit. In fact, we are now back at the level’s women participated in the labor pool back in 1988. While a record number of women were elected to Congress in 2020, there are other statistics that tells us that 80% of the talent that left the labor force by September 2020 were in fact women. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides that this includes 324,000 Latinas and 58,000 women of color. Maven translates this data to result in four times (4x) more women than men have dropped out of the available talent pool these past 12 months. This is compounded by the reality that despite what many think, this is not a temporary trend.

The shift of human capital will not bounce back as easy as economists forecast business to bounce back in coming years. I believe that the exodus of talent shifting in the marketplace is a trend that is actively shifting to men as well and some may ask why? Well, burnout is a real problem, and it is still unraveling before our eyes. Maven reported a 320% spike in mental health appointments in recent months. Not surprising, as I have declared to my own team that mental health can no longer be taboo in the workplace.  I have personally been witnessing real burnout among the caregivers inside businesses; be it your manager, your CEO, or your HR representation. Everyone is tired and resilience is being tested. Everyone everywhere is getting through this and the future of work has not only changed, but we must accept it is also evolving. It is all happening so fast in real time. I have an 11-year-old child that is on Zoom two times (2x) weekly with a one-on-one instructor based in Mumbai, India. For many of us, it is beyond comprehension. In fact, the way many adults worked a year ago has altered in such a way; they are still wrapping their minds around it.