You cannot call “Force Majeure” on talent management

As of this writing, the buzzwords of “force majeure” and “unperformed contracts” are used daily throughout the agricultural supply chain. We now have fertilizer manufacturers, crop protection product manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, poultry and other livestock production organizations, technology companies and service companies unable to meet their contractual agreements. and to demand this coming season. Unforeseen manufacturing challenges, shipping challenges, global socio-political events, and major shifts in employee availability and demands have undoubtedly impacted our industry.

The answer to most of these supply chain issues is to point the finger at our favorite scapegoat of the decade, COVID-19. (Yes, even leaders who make unpopular and ill-advised decisions can be linked to theories surrounding the impact of COVID on the psychology of critical thinking). Every organization I have come in contact with over the past two years has lamented the impact of COVID on their ability to hire, engage and retain employees. I too, in my last three articles, have jumped on board with the impact of COVID and shared strategies for dealing with the impact of COVID on agribusinesses.

And while we can attribute the timing of these events to COVID, unfortunately we cannot lump our HR challenges with the rest of our supply chain by blaming COVID and calling it “force majeure.” The definition of force majeure is “unforeseeable circumstances which prevent someone from performing a contract”. This definition might even be appropriate if it weren’t for one word — unpredictable.

Signals ignored

The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly created unpredictable challenges in the workplace. Yet, in many ways, the impact of COVID, whether it’s abandoning workers, demanding better work-life balance, or seeking better compensation, does not only highlights problems that were already looming on the horizon. We were simply too engrossed in our activities to respond to these impending cues. “The Great Resignation” is not an unexpected event. The events of the past two years are the start of an inevitable demographic collision that we have ignored for decades. This collision being the consequence of the retirement of baby boomers, the decline in the birth rate and the consequent decline in college and post-secondary admissions, which have slowly come together.

These trends, combined with worker frustration, started the whole snowball. American workers are frustrated with pay gaps, they realize that two days of travel for a one hour meeting may not be efficient, they wonder if hundreds of hours/year of commuting to an office could be used more effectively, and are concluding that career advancement is useless without a work/life balance that meets their personal needs. But again, this is not unexpected. We have seen it, we may have talked about it, we may even have worried about it.

But has your organization done anything about it?

Despite the current decline in COVID-related health risks, employment changes continue to evolve at a rapid pace. In January, LinkedIn reported that one of its 800 million members changed jobs every 15 seconds! They also noted that in 2020, only one in 67 paid jobs in the United States offered remote or hybrid options, while in January 2022 it rose to one in six companies. It’s no surprise when they consistently show work/life balance as the top reason for changing roles, with company culture and compensation coming second and third.


Companies are slowly recognizing that the key to attracting and retaining top talent starts with building a culture that prioritizes the well-being of their employees. Trends don’t change, so it’s time to embrace the new normal and make the necessary adjustments to your hiring strategy.

Flexibility will continue to be key to attracting and retaining top talent. When employees are satisfied with their company’s time and location flexibility, they are 2.6 times more likely to say they are satisfied.

The right cultural fit. Recognize that interviews are about the candidates choosing your organization, not your opportunity to weed them out. Job seekers are more demanding to find the right person, with LinkedIn noting that job seekers explore more than twice as many companies and interviews before making a career decision. Use each interview as an opportunity to show candidates why you’re a great company to work for, and don’t spend the whole conversation trying to figure out if they’re not.

As stated earlier, work/life balance is currently the most critical factor when workers are evaluating a new opportunity. Companies that recognize this trend and find creative ways to address it will have a significant advantage in attracting top talent.

It’s clear that the pandemic has brought about a big shift in what matters to your current and future employees. This forces every organization to rethink their talent management strategies. But while these changes present challenges, they also offer opportunities. Organizations that make the right adjustment to renew their cultures and improve their employer brand can win big in the new war for talent.


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