In an increasing race for talent and with rising employee expectations, Lara Hadjetian, Head of Employee Experience Practice at Edelman, explains how organizations can stand out from the perspective of what workers are looking for.
The Great Rethink has employees at an inflection point. How have their expectations evolved when it comes to what they want out of their work life?
At a point in time when competition for talent remains fierce, there is a new compact between employee and employer, fundamentally redefining how, why, and where they work and what they are willing to give in return. Compensation and perks are no longer enough. We are seeing flexibility, work-life balance, and meaningful work not only front-of-mind but as non-negotiables.
What else is at play? Our research indicates that employees and potential talent prioritize the companies that reflect their values and have a larger purpose. In our latest Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, ‘Trust in the Workplace,’ nearly seven in ten respondents (69%) believe that societal impact is a strong expectation or deal breaker when considering a job, following career advancement (81%), and personal empowerment (78%). When asked, they are more likely to work for an organization that takes a stand on human rights (71%), racial justice (66%), and climate change (63%). This feeling was more strongly held by the youngest of respondents – AKA Gen Z. Additionally, two-thirds of those we surveyed are not willing to sacrifice their well-being to achieve career progression. And while paying fair wages, telling employees the truth, and addressing burnout were important, we found the number one driver of trust to be employers who are reliable sources of information about contentious issues.
Consequently, people are asking themselves if their work is worth their time and energy, switching careers to get what they want out of work as evidenced by The Great Rethink, The Great Reshuffle, and The Great Reset. Whatever we choose to call it, it is very much real. Then, of course, enter Quiet Quitting which is subject to individual interpretation and implies pushing back on hustle culture and setting boundaries at work.
How should businesses be responding to these priorities to attract, engage, and retain the talent they need?
This is no time for inertia. Employee needs have changed, as has the talent landscape. Organizations have a huge opportunity to identify what matters most to workers and match them to a compelling employee value proposition (EVP), ultimately influencing who joins, stays, or moves on.
In short, we define EVP as the give and the get – what employees can expect in exchange for their productivity and performance. It is the balance of the qualities of the employee experience that distinguish why someone would choose to work at one company over another. When it comes to EVP, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Whether we are working with clients on a specific talent challenge or bringing their employer brand to life, we lean heavily on research and data to learn, build, pressure test, and activate.
The EVP has to be done intentionally to resonate with current and future employees, and be authentic so that it is anything but ordinary. First, you have to get clear about who you are and what you stand for. Ask yourself: What’s the why of our company? What do our key talent segments expect from us? Does our current positioning feel right to the people vital to our growth? Is it differentiated from the competition? Then, you can communicate in a way that is ownable.
What are some examples you’ve seen of these practices being put in action over the last year?
Employees today are asking more of employers than ever before. Our findings show that 75% of people expect DE&I commitments to be addressed at work and diversity to be reflected at all levels; and we have seen heightened progress in representation, unconscious bias training programs, and equitable benefits. Well-being is now an integral part of an EVP, empowering talent to show up and be their true selves. It has given businesses a role to champion returnships, child and career support, parent-centric ERGs, employee assistance programs, and normalizing conversations around mental health in the workplace.
At the same time, we are experiencing monumental shifts in the ways we work, which we never thought possible. In response, companies are reimagining their workplaces to support diverse employee stages of life and optimizing the infrastructure and processes that enable collaboration, community, and productivity. At Edelman, we are great believers in flexibility. Our workplace culture is hybrid, built on trust to drive our collective success. Acknowledging that we all have different working styles, our week consists of a mix of working from home and in-office connections, giving people the choice to decide what is best for them. Alongside this, employees have the option to work from anywhere in the world for up to 30 days a year.
Attracting and retaining talent is challenging at best. Given the attitudinal changes of workers of the 2020s, employers need to consider all their levers to meet them where they are at, from the very first touchpoint in the employee journey to a continuously engaged workforce. Because when it comes to the future of work, this leads to the greater fulfillment of employees, and inevitably growth.
This article was published in Communicate's latest issue.