Are You Valuing Your Employees the Way They Want You To? CEO Insights 12-2-2022 By Jim Steinlage President & Chief Executive Officer Table of Contents Great Resignation or Something Else? What Workers Value Most in the Workplace Is Your Organization Offering What Workers Want? What workers value in the workplace hasn’t changed much over the years. Fair wages, interesting and challenging work, growth opportunities, and appreciation for a job well done. The same things that were important to workers a decade ago are still important to them today. However, there has been a significant change in how workers work since the Covid-19 pandemic started with the shift to remote, work-from-home, and hybrid work environments. One thing that hasn’t changed in the last decade is that what workers seek from their work often differs from what their leadership think they want. Today’s workers are looking for personal value and purpose at work. Businesses that want to attract and retain top talent should be prepared to deliver on this request. Great Resignation or Something Else? Unemployment in the U.S. currently stands at 3.5 percent, one of the lowest historical rates. It’s tempting to assume that means most people are generally happy with their jobs. However, in June 2022, more than 4 million workers quit their jobs, with “quitting” defined as a worker “voluntarily separating” from their employer. That number wasn’t much less the previous four months. Something is obviously going on. Some resignations are due to the pandemic and some from new job opportunities, but there was also an unwillingness of many workers to return to jobs with low wages and little-to-no benefits. As employers scramble to figure out what’s happening, we need to listen when workers tell us how they want to be valued. What Workers Value Most in the Workplace Attractive pay and concern for their well-being are the top two things workers desire from their employers. Other wants include job security, predictability, training, career growth, work tasks that challenge their strengths, valued culture, and a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. Understanding what your workers want from their work is essential to optimizing your talent acquisition and retention strategies. Let’s look at the six key factors workers say are the most important to them when deciding whether to accept a job or stay in one they already have. Increase in income or benefits It is very rare that someone we are interviewing is not looking for some bump in income and or benefits. This runs a little contrary to what I and others might have been saying over the past decade—that pay and benefits don’t matter to workers as much as other factors. This has shifted since around 2015 when workers didn’t rank this as high on list. In the past five or six years it has shifted to their number one desire. Workers are now saying income and benefits are critical to their decision on whether to accept or stay in a job. Limited supply and high demand has more recently influenced the shift in decision priority. Workers are taking advantage of a job seeker’s market where companies are raising wages in response to intense talent competition. Improved work-life balance and more concern for personal well-being Balancing professional and personal lives has never been more important to workers, with more than half saying it’s a critical factor when weighing whether to accept a position. Balancing personal and business life isn’t necessarily about the numbers of hours you work, but with times changing, workers want flexibility and some independence in how, when, and where they work. The immediate shift caused by the COVID-19 crisis to 100% remote work added more stress and burn out from overwhelming working environments that seemed to want their workers available 24 hours a day. A plus for workers is since the pandemic, remote and hybrid work models have gained popularity, and many workers want to embrace this new way of working. The opportunity to do what they do best Most workers want satisfaction from their careers, yet many say their work is only half as meaningful as it could be. When you give people the chance to do what they do best, they enjoy their work more and feel motivated to contribute to an even greater extent. On the other hand, team members not given tasks that make the most of their strengths often seek jobs where their abilities are better utilized even if that means leaving a company they otherwise like. Businesses must try to understand what excites individual job candidates and workers about their work and then find ways to meet those desires. There is so much greatness divinely instilled into each team member. It is our responsibility as leaders to help them be challenged, get trained and certified so they can bring their best and feel great about doing it. Greater job stability and security When people feel their jobs are secure and stable, companies benefit in significant ways, including: A more relaxed workplace environment. Better employee engagement. Higher retention rates. Improved employee efficiency and productivity. Better customer satisfaction.Security depends on the individual and their feelings about the company’s current standing and future prospects. After more than two years of daily post-COVID uncertainty about the economy and the workforce’s state of health, workers need to be reassured their employer leadership team is a stabilizing force with vision, value alignment, financial stability, with no plans for acquisition targets, and one they can count on today and the years ahead. A sense of purpose People want purpose in their lives, and that includes work. If you want driven team members, one of the best ways to get them motivated is to make workers feel valued for their contributions. Workers say recognition, acknowledgment, and growth opportunities make them feel trusted, empowered, and respected. This is an area we intentionally spend a lot of time coaching our leadership team to set the example for our team. We were all created to feel good when we get praise and recognition regardless of if people tell you that they don’t like or need praise and recognition. It costs nothing to hand out compliments, thank you notes, thinking of you calls, etc. When employers are so focused on sales and profits and not delivering on praise and recognition, they increase the risk of employees leaving due to lack of appreciation.Nearly two-thirds of workers in the U.S. said the pandemic had caused them to reflect on life’s purpose. Almost half said that self-reflection had them reconsidering the type of work they do. Organizations would do well to help workers find purpose in their work. People who find their job meaningful are also healthier, more resilient, and more likely to remain with the company. Diversity, equity and inclusion Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives matter greatly to today’s workers, particularly millennials and Gen-Z professionals. We are all still born in same image of our creator, and we need to follow the Golden Rule and “treat others like we would want to be treated”. By making sure everyone feels included and forming a diverse workforce, we are better suited to consider all sides when facing challenges in our companies and to come up with more creative ways to solve those challenges. Companies can boost their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts by: Eliminating bias in job postings Emphasizing relevant skills and core competencies over educational requirements Compensate fairly by performance and results Making sure to uncover and address potential biases in hiring and operational processes Organizations that exhibit a sincere commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion issues strengthen leadership’s bond with team members and increase worker trust, a critical factor in the relationship between an individual’s performance and operational success. Is Your Organization Offering What Workers Want? As recent research suggests, wages and benefits are top-of-mind for most workers, but they still want non-tangible benefits like praise, encouragement, and respect. Companies can improve their employee attraction and retention rates by: Having consistent “pay conversations” with workers so they understand the true value of their compensation and how it’s connected to their job development and performance. Enhancing existing well-being initiatives and, if there aren’t any in place, creating them. Providing opportunities and training for team members to use their talents to their fullest. Creating and supporting an inclusive culture. The bottom line? If your organization invests the time to figure out what it’s team members want and need to stay engaged at work, you’ll be successful in keeping them. It will also help raise your company’s visibility, customer satisfaction, and make you an employer of choice.