McAfee VP: 'How you treat people' matters more than ever

'We work hard to make sure there’s a level playing field'

McAfee VP: 'How you treat people' matters more than ever

When the pandemic hit, employee wellbeing and safety became HR leaders’ ultimate concern. At McAfee, their leadership team was quick to pivot and adapt to the disruption in order to thrive through it – something that was as innovative as it was rewarding.

“It created the opportunity to redesign purposeful ways to collaborate and come together,” says McAfee’s Amy Bunn, VP, chief communications officer. “As an organization, we demonstrated that we could work just as effectively remotely, which opened up new opportunities for us to hire from new locations, effectively expanding our talent pool.”

A culture shift in post-COVID Canada

It was an approach that many employers sought to fly with, seeing the upheaval as a chance to revolutionize how, where, and why they work. While the COVID chaos was stressful for leaders, there’s no denying that it acted as a catalyst for the people function – taking HR from an administrative, “nice to have” to a strategic business partner.

And, as Bunn told HRD, the pandemic pushed many companies to reconsider their talent attraction plans in order to thrive through the ongoing skills shortage. 

“It’s no secret that many people have taken time during and post-pandemic to think about what matters most to them and to re-evaluate priorities,” says Bunn. “From a talent attraction perspective, this means your company culture, how you treat people, how you operate, and what you stand for – all these things matter more now than ever.

“Employees want to know they’re spending their time working for a company that values their contribution and provides a welcoming and supportive environment. Employees also want to feel connected through a shared purpose, so articulating this clearly and succinctly is critical. Similarly, so is having a strong employer value proposition and making sure it’s not just words on a page but that you truly live it.”

Belonging as an attraction tool

And the data’s there to back this up. Belonging and purpose were highlighted in O.C Tanner’s Global Culture report as two of the main components delineating employee experience. According to the research, a sense of belonging improved employee retention by 43%, as well as boosting the average employee’s tenure by 84%.

The intrinsic link between connectivity and employee loyalty isn’t something that employers can afford to ignore – especially in the great war for talent. At McAfee, they’re looking for a very specific kind of new hire in 2023, one that understands and appreciates their values, whilst also bringing their own unique set of skills to the table.

We look for people who have passion and drive,” says Bunn. “People who share in our values and how we operate but will also bring fresh perspectives and new ideas. We work hard to make sure there’s a level playing field too. This means we have removed degrees as a requirement for roles at McAfee. To help remove any unconscious bias and recruit more women into cyber, we also ensure a woman is on every single hiring panel.

The company has also mapped out desired employee behaviors against its core values so during the interview process, they can quickly assess how a potential new hire would perform against a certain scenario, she says.

“We’ve found that some of our best hires and top contributors are those who embody the behaviours that align to our values, culture, and performance expectations, in addition to holding the necessary skills to perform their role.”

Future-proofing your talent pool

The labour market is tight right now, and it’s not showing any signs of loosening up. In Canada, employers are resorting to hiking wages in order to remain competitive as the cost of living bites. And while that might work short-term, in the long run it could lead to yet more inflation worries as companies raise costs to offset salaries.

For leadership, the issue becomes how best to future-proof their teams to remain competitive in 2023.

“In 2023, HR teams will need to continue building ways to manage and support both on-site and remote team members,” says Bunn. “Our workforce has changed, and while many new practices and ways of working are in place, finetuning your skills and knowledge in this space will continue to be necessary.

“As teams and companies continue to grow and change, the ability to coach executives and leaders to be effective and impactful while operating with authenticity will be essential. The ability to coach leaders to empower teams, practice empathy, and inspire others are skills that each HR practitioner should continue to hone.”

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