AN UNCERTAIN WORLD HAS MANY WORKPLACE BONDS BREAKING DOWN. HERE’S HOW TO BUCK THE TREND AND CREATE A MORE LOYAL, ENGAGED, AND CONNECTED WORKFORCE.
Over the last two years, there’s been an unprecedented shift in worker-employers relations. Old patterns have been interrupted, and a new, digital-first experience has taken hold. Further, employees have had time to reconsider how work fits into their lives, and to explore their options for alternate employment in an extremely competitive talent environment.
The net result? Employees are demanding more pay, different benefits, and guarantees that they wouldn’t have before – and companies are listening. Without hearing these demands, there’s simply too much risk that tenuously attached talent will walk out the door. However, not every employee ask advances the development of strong corporate-worker bonds. Here, some of the most important pivots and accommodations will be examined so that employers can see what works to create long-term bonds and high levels of engagement in today’s uncertain world.
IT IS – AT LEAST PARTIALLY – ALL ABOUT THE MONEY --
One major shift underway is a new realization from workers everywhere that their efforts have value. In fact, they may have more value than in recent memory, given skills gaps and talent shortages unfolding around the world. Add in an inflationary environment and many workers are looking at their paystubs and declaring that what they’re receiving isn’t enough to keep pace or feel fairly compensated for their efforts.
Many employers agree. Talent is now more nimble than ever, while the costs of vacancy are high. Keeping workers by paying them more is a smart move. According to The Conference Board, companies are reserving an average of 3.9% of total payroll for wage increases this year, the largest jump since 2008. Other research indicates that workers switching jobs have been able to get raises of 10 to 15% simply by job hopping, meaning that firms in competitive spaces may have to plan for double-digit increases to avoid losing key workers.
Of course, this isn’t just a cost accommodation. Companies that can make workers feel seen and position wage increases as earned rewards will be in a better place than firms where the messaging is about just giving out enough to keep up with the competition. Workers are eager to feel recognized and appreciated, and if boosting the number on the pay stub can be tied back to this, it will help firms shore up shaky relationships and bolster retention levels.
THE NEED FOR VALUES ALIGNMENT --
Another major shift over the last two years has been the way workers have been shifting career out of the primary position in their lives. Key social causes, personal priorities, and a new emphasis on family have many workers re-evaluating how their work fits into their overall life plan. Companies are thus being asked to provide not just financial remuneration for workers but also a space for self-actualization and values expression.
To pivot along with this shift, firms can do more to communicate aspects of the corporate purpose. Highlighting work on environmental issues, pay equity, diversity in hiring and promotion, and other important values-driven issues can provide a place for workers to realize their firms’ alignment with their personal concerns and values. Many of these conversations have been happening anyway, but matching the conversation to employee expectations around corporate behaviors can help connect the dots for workers.
Does this mean that firms need to be everything to employees? Hardly! However, firms that don’t wish to take public positions on certain issues may still accommodate workers seeking greater values alignment by highlighting opportunities to volunteer or leverage corporate matching programs to boost impact.
TO AVOID THE DOOR, THERE MUST BE A PATH--
The final pivot for companies to embrace to create longer and more durable employee bonds is to ensure that each employee feels there is a path forward with the firm. Workers increasingly want to feel that they are making progress at work, with some younger generations valuing a sense of growth and progress as highly as a raise. Those who feel mired down or stuck at work are much more likely to swiftly exit the organization.
To create development paths for each employee, managers and HR teams can partner to build talent pools. These pools provide companies with a source of internal talent for potential promotions and a way to swiftly fill unexpected vacancies. According to Harvard Business Review, only 28 percent of modern roles are being filled internally. Talent pools can help raise this number, which in turn brings down recruitment costs and lowers overall turnover rates.
For workers, the benefit of being pooled is a chance to experience group development and have a sense of forward progress along established milestones for their cohort. This benefit is possible to deliver even when there’s not immediately a new or more senior position available. Plus, as a part of a cohort or pool, workers can build up their institutional savvy and knowledge, increasing their chances of success in a future role with the organization.
CONCLUDING THOUGHTS --
The employee experience has changed dramatically over the last two years. Companies that want to avoid losing workers need to make more of an effort to connect with and nurture their employees. To do this, there are three key areas of opportunity.
First, firms need to be sure that they’re paying competitive market wages for all positions. Inflation, talent shortages, and skill gaps all mean that workers have more power, so raises are essential to retaining talent. Next, communicating more frequently and clearly about corporate values – or encouraging employees to express those values in other ways – is key to helping workers feel like they’re with a firm who shares their values. Finally, by creating development paths for workers throughout the organization, firms can lower certain talent sourcing costs while also creating a stronger sense of forward progress for workers, ensuring that even in these transitional times, long term relationships can develop.