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Positioning Yourself for Future Success Via Talent Acquisition

This piece originally appeared in the June 2022 edition of DS News magazine, online now.

Holly Mickens serves as the Head of Talent Solutions for SitusAMC.

In this role, she acts as a strategic business partner responsible for scaling, optimizing, and automating business processes and solutions that will enhance SitusAMC’s Strategic Platforms businesses. She boasts over 15 years of broad experience in operations, finance, and strategic management, as well as implementing strategic initiatives with proven results.

Prior to joining the SitusAMC team in 2014, Mickens served as Director of Operations at Resources Global Professionals, where she oversaw the operational functions of six offices across the region and managed a team of professionals with expanded responsibilities across the east coast.

Prior to her tenure with Resources Global, Mickens held multiple roles within AT&T Corporation, including Chief of Staff in support of the Office of the Chairman and Chief Marketing Organization. During her tenure at AT&T, she was also chosen to participate in AT&T’s Financial Leadership Program (AT&T’s premier fast-track management training program) where she received the Outstanding Overall Performance Award.

How difficult is it to hire quality talent in today’s environment?
The talent market has been extremely competitive over the past year. Organizations are having to rethink how they find talent and the incentives they offer to bring them in. Recent volatility in the real estate industry is creating additional complexity as organizations are reimagining their talent models, balancing short-term profitability with longer-term business objectives. Whether they are expanding or contracting, savvy organizations need to ensure that the talent decisions they make today set them up for success in the future.

What incentives can companies use to recruit exceptional talent that work?
It starts with an understanding on what is important to the candidate. What might work for one person may not resonate with another. Having recruiters who know the market and know how to engage candidates as individuals is crucial.

We ultimately found that leaving or joining a company is rarely only about money. This past year, we spoke with hundreds of candidates and employees. They cited a strong company culture, an organization that fosters a positive work/ life balance, and an environment that supports learning and growth as their top reasons why they joined or stayed at a company.

Are talented professionals more eager to work remotely or return to the office environment? What impact are these preferences having on staffing models?
Overall, we continue to see support for the hybrid work model, but the pendulum tends to swing depending on what stage a candidate is in their career. We have seen a growing propensity among junior talent to want to be in the office.

They want to be part of a team and community environment and get exposure to leadership they simply can’t get at home. More senior talent tends to gravitate to remote work. They feel like their days are more productive by eliminating their commutes and limiting distractions.

That said, all employees seem to enjoy the benefits and flexibility of a hybrid model. They like the energy, excitement, and collaboration an office environment inspires. At the same time, they relish the option to be remote, especially on the tail end of a week, so they can catch up on busy work or, dare we say, run that midday errand.

Does working remotely hinder or enhance growth opportunities?
In terms of personal growth for the employee, it’s not one-size-fits-all. We’ve seen many individuals thrive in remote environments and others struggle. That’s why many organizations are looking to hybrid models to support different working styles. When it comes to the remote working conversations, the companies that keep an open mind and a flexible, employee-centric approach will win in the end.

Are more employees looking for a healthy work-life balance? How does that play into an organization’s need for long-term growth?
Based on our surveys of hundreds of employees and candidates, work-life balance only accounted for 10% of the reasons why someone leaves an organization. At the same time, employers should focus on how they can support and encourage employees to have lives outside of work and pursue their personal interests. Balance leads to happiness, and happiness leads to productivity. We need to focus less on hours worked and focus more on impact delivered. This will always be better for the employee and the employer.

How can mortgage companies train new talent to become future leaders? What are the best training methods?
Growth and learning are by far the most important factors behind why someone joins and stays at a company. In fact, our surveys found that 55% of people cite a lack of growth and learning as the reason they leave companies.

Savvy organizations are investing in programs and platforms to help employees grow. This might include structured mentorship programs, learning and development curriculum, or allowances to take courses or certifications.

How can mortgage companies motivate talented individuals for better production and stimulate greater interest in their position?
Not surprisingly, in talking with candidates and employees alike, job satisfaction is key. Employees at all levels want to be respected. This goes back to promoting a strong company culture. Employees want leaders to do what they say and say what they do. It is critical that all employees feel that they are part of a larger vision and that their work directly contributes to the company’s goals, regardless of their level or role. Employees want access to leaders, and they want their opinions to be heard. In short, better culture leads to better teams, which leads to better business results.

About Author: David Wharton

David Wharton, Editor-in-Chief at the Five Star Institute, is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, where he received his B.A. in English and minored in Journalism. Wharton has nearly 20 years' experience in journalism and previously worked at Thomson Reuters, a multinational mass media and information firm, as Associate Content Editor, focusing on producing media content related to tax and accounting principles and government rules and regulations for accounting professionals. Wharton has an extensive and diversified portfolio of freelance material, with published contributions in both online and print media publications. He can be reached at David.Wharton@thefivestar.com.
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