Canadian Business Event Recap: the Evolution of Talent Strategy

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in partnership with amazon canada, Canadian business TODAY hosted a panel discussion about one of the biggest topics in the corporate world: the future of work. Specifically, the panel talked about powerful workplace cultures, talent strategies, lessons from remote work, and managing people in hybrid-work environments.

meeting on MARS Discovery District In downtown Toronto, the panel was moderated by Jason Meghnoy, CB’s Associate Publisher and Vice President of Digital Solutions and Business Development at SJC Media. The panellists were three exciting business leaders: Greg Dubeysky, director of digital expansion at Amazon Canada; Fatima Zaidi, Founder and CEO of Production Agency flex, and Daniel Charney, executive-in-residence in the MARS Discovery District.

The evening’s program began with a conversation about what it would look like in 2023. Charney said he thinks productivity will be measured by outputs (as in how much you work) rather than inputs (as in how long you work). He also said that the roles of employees and employers would be swapped; Employees will act more like agents for themselves and manage their own time and workload.

Maghnoy switched gears to ask Dubeysky how a team as large as Amazon — which has grown exponentially during the last few years — manages to maintain a culture and retain talent. Dubejsky, who said his team started with six employees before the pandemic and has now grown to 65, responded that Amazon has a big focus on flexibility for its corporate employees. For Zaidi, who launched Quill a week before the start of the pandemic and has been 100 percent remote since day one, prioritizing the well-being of employees over performance is important. “You don’t get a badge of honor for working after hours,” she said.

The conversation then turned to the different hardware employees might need to do their jobs remotely. Dubejsky was asked what kind of technology is provided to his employees. He explained that digital-collaboration tools like Slack are important to his team because they allow everyone to communicate and stay on the same page, even when physically apart. Amazon is very data-driven and collects tons of metrics on its employees, Dubejsky said, so he and his team leverage employee-feedback data to improve everyone’s experience. He also said that being empathetic to employees helps create a safe environment for him to approach them with their struggles.

On the subject of offices, Magnoy asked Zaidi whether a physical office was important to Quill, to which he replied, “Not at all.” For Zaidi, she’ll invest the money needed to lease an office in her employees so they can get other benefits like gym memberships and a home-office budget. “The pandemic has shown that you can be a high-growth company with no face time,” she said.

Then, Charney was asked what employees were looking for in a job. Echoing Dubajsky’s earlier comments, Charney said that flexibility is now the biggest thing potential employees look for in the workplace. “I’ve seen candidates turn down a job because it doesn’t work with their life,” she said. He also said that engagement and a clear development plan are also important to candidates and ultimately what gets employees to stay.

Finally, the panelists were asked to share what they think will be the biggest future of work trends in 2023. Dubejsky said flexibility will continue to be the most important thing. Zaidi said employees’ personal motivations for the job will be the biggest factor in whether they stay in a role or accept a new role (and, he added, it’s important for their motivations to align with the company’s motivations). Get aligned to build a working relationship with) solid). For employees, Charney said the aspiration to work from anywhere and be a digital nomad will continue. However, even though more workplaces claim to offer work-from-anywhere options, many don’t help employees overcome the barriers to that work style — like flexible hours.

After a brief audience Q&A, the panelists joined the audience for wine, canapés and networking to round out the event.

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