Attracting and retaining talent in today’s labor market requires an investment in employees.
By Marta Chmielowicz
In the past year, the way people work has undergone a rapid and radical transformation. The disruption of the pandemic has led employees to reevaluate their priorities and expectations, with workers prioritizing their well-being more than ever and demanding that employers adapt to their needs.
In this difficult business climate, organizations need to act fast or risk losing an unprecedented number of employees. “People were all-hands-on-deck during the peak of the pandemic, and now they’re more selective in what they’re looking for,” says Kristin Thomas, head of U.S. at Resource Solutions. “Their expectations are different. It’s more than just allowing hybrid work or flexibility—there needs to be an investment in employees.”
Thomas recommends focusing on several key initiatives as organizations rethink their employer value proposition.
- Revamp pay and benefits. Today’s employees expect to receive a competitive salary, and businesses are responding by increasing salary offers and raises. In fact, the 2021 General Industry Salary Budget Survey from Willis Towers Watson found that only 3% of companies are not planning to boost salaries in 2022, compared to 8% in 2021.
According to the survey, companies project average salary increases of 3% for executives, management and professional employees, and support staff in 2022. This is up from the average 2.7% increases companies granted this year.
“A lot of raises and salary adjustments have been in response to significant attrition,” says Thomas. “Companies have had to relook at their bonus structure. From a salary perspective, this was very reactive in the first half of the year. In the second half of the year, it’s more of a review of the whole reward structure.”
- Offer flexible work arrangements. Companies that can’t afford to grant raises should consider offering greater flexibility. Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index Report shows that 73% of employees want flexible work options to continue after the pandemic. As a result, 66% of leaders say they are considering redesigning the office space for hybrid work.
“Throughout all of last year, people found that time away from the office was the silver lining of a really difficult year,” says Thomas. “Now, they’re looking for more of that balance. Some companies are rewarding employees with more time off or not tracking time off at all. That is much more sustainable for next year.”
- Prioritize learning and development. Learning has also become a key priority for today’s employees. According to Thomas, organizations should build clear career paths for each role in the organization and offer trainings to help employees succeed in those opportunities.
- Culture-building initiatives. Organizational culture is another area that should be top of mind. “A lot of energy being invested into culture and behaviors,” says Thomas. “The focus on DE&I is very important. People want to be proud of where they work and be involved with initiatives that are important to them.”
Thomas recommends that organizations offer opportunities for employees to engage in community service and committees that give them the freedom to make decisions and contribute to the organization. She also suggests that leaders prioritize communication, embracing live streams and team meetings where teams can share news and engagement activities.
Companies that do this well will have a team of brand ambassadors who will attract other top employees to the organization.
“Your best advertisement is your employees,” Thomas explains. “If you have a satisfied employee base that’s referring other individuals, that’s going to attract talent. If you have people leaving because they’re burned out, that’s going to hurt from a reputation standpoint. You need to invest in your employees. People want to know they’re appreciated.”