More than 47 million workers quit their job in 2021. That was after 2019, when 42 million people quit to create what was already the tightest job market on record.
Labor experts are now beginning to recognize that employees are less interested in quitting than in renegotiate. In response, organizations offer incentives such as higher salaries and signing bonuses.
But what do today’s workers really want? Finding the answer can point employers toward practical solutions for attracting and retaining top talent. It can also help potential employees focus on companies that offer the most rewarding opportunities.
The great hesitation or renegotiation?
Employees and employers have experienced massive change over the past two years. The Covid-19 crisis has disrupted all aspects of our personal and professional lives.
Many businesses have been forced to close temporarily. When they resumed operations, they had to switch to remote working models. At the same time, many employees were forced to quit their jobs. When they had the opportunity to return, many began to rethink the role the career plays in their lives.
The recent slow return of workers to the labor market has been described by some economists as “great hesitationwith people reluctant to return to work due to concerns stemming from the pandemic, including the risk of infection and lack of affordable childcare. However, many survey reports point out that a high percentage of workers intention to change jobs — do not leave the labor market completely.
It’s not that people don’t want to work, it’s that they want their work experience to be different. They also want their employer to be different.
Focus on the future workforce
Another factor is the new generation starting to enter the job market. Generation Z (also called Zoomers) includes people born after around 1995. In the United States, this cohort of 68 million people represents 20% of the population and is the third largest behind millennials and baby boomers. By 2025, Generation Z will compensate nearly 30% of the talent pool in some markets.
Zoomers have lived through the Great Recession, Covid-19 and an increase in weather-related disasters. They have experienced economic uncertainty and global forces beyond their control.
These issues influenced their priorities. They are more committed to causes that previous generations might have viewed as idealistic, especially those involving energy and the environment. They are less focused on their salary and job title and more concerned with the larger societal image and how their work fits into it.
What is my motivation?
I have worked for over 30 years in technology and operational roles in the public and private sectors. I have contributed to several organizations in positions of CIO, CTO, CEO, President and Director. At that time and in all these companies, I never saw employees being satisfied just because they earned a big salary.
But you don’t need to change the world to make sense of your employees, and you don’t need to blow your budget to engage workers effectively. Here are four areas where practical strategies can attract the talent you need now.
4 practical offers to attract talent
- Flexible working models
- Transparency and empathy
- meaningful work
1. BEYOND BENEFITS: WELL-BEING
Job seekers are looking for more than just adequate health insurance. They also seek benefits that contribute to their well-being, such as fitness allowances and matching donations. In fact, Gallup identified five elements of well-beingincluding occupational, financial, social, community and physical factors.
Today’s workers think of well-being in increasingly broad terms. If an employee can work remotely but then experiences social isolation, their well-being deteriorates. If a worker earns a good salary but still faces temporary financial difficulties, it is also a question of well-being.
Employers should pay attention to these issues. The right mix of wellness elements will vary by industry and organization. But all will affect worker engagement and productivity.
2. FLEXIBLE WORK MODELS
Of the 125 million full-time jobs in America, half can probably be done at home. And 30% of those workers would prefer never to come to the office, although 60% want a hybrid model of one to four days in the office each week.
Each company will need to identify the roles that can be performed remotely and the balance between in-person and remote work. But even if the global health crisis eases, flexible working environments will remain the norm. Such elasticity allows employees to better balance work and personal commitments.
High performers will increasingly claim to work where, when and how they think they can best contribute to your business. Smart companies will listen to their needs and set their policy accordingly.
3. TRANSPARENCY AND EMPATHY
Employees want to feel part of your organization. Therefore, they want information on finances, strategy and decision making. It is essential that leaders keep staff informed and involve them in decision-making processes.
Part of this need is driven by what some perceive as an increasingly unstable world. Even as workers seek new jobs in the wake of the pandemic, two-thirds say they want more stability. Providing transparency to employees is a good way to demonstrate that your business is stable and that they will be kept informed of inevitable changes.
Transparency is also an effective way to show empathy, a trait that employees are now looking for. The emotional intelligence of corporate leadership can help engender a culture that makes employees feel valued. This need also leads to an increase in mentoring programsthat Gen Z particularly values.
4. SIGNIFICANT WORK
Finally, today’s employees want to feel that their work has meaning. Studies have long shown that employees are willing to make less money for more rewarding jobs. This is the case for 71% of Zoomers, more than half who say it is “very important” that their work has meaning. A sense of purpose is especially crucial because remote teams need to feel emotionally connected corporate culture and goals.
Of course, many companies, especially in the tech industry, say they are changing the world for the better. But to attract top talent, you can’t just write a flowery mission statement or pretend your organization is mission-driven.
However, your organization doesn’t need to operate in the public sector or non-profit space to offer employees meaningful work. On the contrary, demonstrating your company’s commitment to customers – and enabling employees to make a tangible contribution to that commitment – can make workers feel like their work matters.
Giving employees the opportunity to share the purpose of their work and this can help give customers the opportunity to express the benefits your company brings to them. It’s about setting performance goals that are more than just financial goals. Financial goals should be a consequence of results, not the other way around.
For the foreseeable future, the competition for top talent will become fiercer. By understanding what potential employees want from your organization today, you can win this battle and help ensure the success of your business.