Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Redefining When Work Happens

© AdobeStock
Competing for talent in the current climate means that CEOs must rethink the whole notion of company time.

Of the many concerns voiced by CEOs and board members, one is increasingly communicated loud and clear: Even as we fight mounting concerns about a recession, the battle for talent is dominating the corporate landscape.

Growing competition for talent is the biggest concern over the next year, according to recent surveys. The majority of CEOs polled in Chief Executive’s September Confidence Index said that labor costs and availability were the factors that would most influence their 2023 forecast and strategy—ahead of supply chains and consumer spending. Half of C-suite executive respondents to a PwC survey identified talent acquisition and retention as their biggest concern. This same worry topped the list of those queried just a few months prior.

It’s a talent market, with top talent having the upper hand. And as those surveys allude to, that trend is going to continue. And to make things even more complicated, retention of talent no longer means just keeping them in your company. Growing concerns about perceived insufficient employee engagement and commitment to the “day job” continue.

The pandemic and resulting shift to work from anywhere has allowed organizations far greater access to an expanded pool of talent. Where once employers were competing for talent solely with those collocated with office buildings, they’re now vying for the best minds globally. Some are even hoarding the best workers.

The challenge for leaders is obvious: How do you reaffirm or recommit to creating an organization and an environment that inspires employee loyalty with deeper levels of engagement? The solution may be less obvious. To meet the challenge, leaders may need to go to a place that’s uncomfortable initially—redefining what’s meant by company time.

The pandemic has made us much more comfortable challenging the idea that work is not a place, but something we do. The location aspect of work has now been challenged and stretched and modulated and redefined. CEOs have either become comfortable with this shift or are realizing they’ll need to be to compete more effectively. At many businesses, with institutional knowledge on the line, there’s the added pressure of having to revitalize the workforce.

What’s coming next may be less comfortable. While challenging the where of work is accepted practice, challenging when work gets done is not.

Some companies already have an inherent advantage in this evolution to rethink company time. One major indicator of organizations that have broken through or redefined work time are those that have no set number of vacation days. There’s little doubt that’s part of the formula for success for talent-friendly companies like Salesforce, which has ranked as a top company to work for 14 straight years.

Companies like this have a head start. There’s no question they still have boundaries – guardrails to ensure employees don’t abuse company assets, work for competitors, or put the company at risk for cybersecurity breaches. As a leader, you still have an obligation to protect your teams, your business, your shareholders and investors. But the initial trust or loyalty shown to talent is already evident at certain organizations that, even before the pandemic, were rethinking when work happens.

If the trend of the previous decade was that every business is a people business, or every business is a technology business, the trend going forward will be that every business must also be a healthcare business. That’s because part of your talent strategy must be about your talent’s well-being. A consideration of when work gets done is a nod toward that well-being. Enabling new degrees of autonomy and flexibility more apropos to the times affirms a more empowered approach.

Contrast that point of view with executives of a certain generation who still have a focus on command-and-control leadership. Those old school types who, even now, are roaming the office and doing the equivalent of bed checks on employees to make sure they’re at a certain place at what they deem is the right time. Does this approach help with productivity and a trusting culture in the modern workplace?

I sympathize with those still wedded in this leadership style. This pivot we’re making is so difficult, yet it’s so essential. That’s why I believe leaders need to approach the future with a two-pronged strategy. They need to:

• Assess their policies, practices and processes and revamp them to reflect the new work environment. They have to identify the forces systemically holding them back. And they’ve got to accomplish this with a group of diverse people who they want to retain and advance.

• Lead by example, thinking differently about how they may operate as a leader. To lead more inclusively, but also open the aperture of their managers about what is a thriving culture of the future. What type of culture will promote a rise in employee loyalty and engagement? What is a culture that will attract, retain and grow the best talent?

In a world where talent is key and competition is fierce, culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage organizations have. For too many of them, today’s culture is not the one that will win. Over time, one way or another, they’ll discover that the power of innovation, growth and performance is best found through the true empowerment of their people.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.