Understanding the needs of the global workforce matters now more than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic brought on existential challenges to every facet of life, the working world included. Two years later, employees are emerging with a new sense of purpose, a different set of needs and a shift in the dynamic between talent and employers. Our latest survey reinforces this new reality.
One of the largest studies of its kind in the world, the Workmonitor 2022 report assessed 35,000 respondents across 34 markets, from ages 18-67.
The results show some key findings:
- Employee personal life is more important than work life.
- Happiness at work is a priority.
- Company and employee values should align.
- Job flexibility is expected.
- Training and development resources should be readily accessible.
What’s more, the results align with the “Great Resignation,” with one-third of all respondents saying they have quit a job that didn’t fit within their personal lives. Across generations, younger respondents felt the strongest about this. In fact, the majority of those under 35 said they would quit their job if it prevented them from enjoying life.
There is good news for employers: 60 percent of respondents are committed to their current employers, and 72 percent say that work is important in their lives. This means employees want to work, they just want work to look different.
70% are open to new opportunities if the right one comes along.
For the time being, talent scarcity is here to stay. In today’s highly competitive labor market, organizations that fail to meet the needs of an enlightened workforce can expect longer hiring times, higher recruitment costs and the loss of top talent.
To stay ahead of the competition, companies need to adopt a people-first mentality. Using the key findings from our survey, here are five ways to attract and retain the best employees:
1. attitude: fitting work around people’s lives
The pandemic forced millions of people around the world to quarantine, curb their social interactions and acclimate to alternative ways of working. This not only changed the way people work, it changed how they feel about it, too.
This year’s survey revealed that most people see work-life balance as an integral part of their happiness.
The percentage of employees who would quit a job that prevented them from enjoying their lives:
- 56%: 18-24 year olds
- 38%: 55-67 year olds
But that doesn’t mean employees don’t take their jobs seriously. In fact, 57 percent of respondents feel a sense of purpose through their employment. And three-quarters of the youngest survey respondents say work is important to their lives.
For organizations looking to attract top talent, acknowledging these sentiments, listening to employee needs and evolving to meet them is the path forward.
2. values: aligning values
The enlightened workforce that emerged from the pandemic means employees care more about the world today. Social justice movements, concerns about climate change and diversity and inclusion in the workplace are important to people on a global scale.
Our survey revealed that employees want company values to align with their own.
The percentage of employees who would not join an employer if:
- 43%: the company's social and environmental values don’t align with their own
- 41%: the company doesn’t make efforts to promote a diverse and inclusive workplace
Companies today see that promoting environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues will attract and retain loyal employees, especially younger generations. A similar focus on equity, diversity, inclusion and access (EDI&A) policies and practices is also desired.
The good news for employers is that according to the survey, 73 percent of respondents say their employers’ values align with their own.
Organizations that listen to their employees, work to align their values and stay clear and open in the process are poised to keep their workforce engaged and satisfied.
3. empowerment: strengthening attraction strategies
Talent scarcity is proving to be a long-term challenge for employers. The competition for skills has led companies to offer more incentives — both monetary and non-financial — such as paid time off, healthcare provisions and better retirement plans.
Yet according to our survey, employees may not be getting what they need to stay.
Only 22% have received enhanced benefits from their employer over the past 12 months.
What’s more, people are willing to look elsewhere to attain these benefits. Most respondents (70%) are open to new opportunities and would consider a new role if the terms are attractive.
To attract new employees and keep top talent, organizations must create meaningful employment. Incentives, regular opportunities for learning and development and recognizing employee accomplishments will keep talent engaged and confident about their career.
4. flexibility: job flexibility
When and where people expect to work is vastly different than two years ago. In fact, one reason for the “Great Resignation” is that many employees didn’t want to return to the office full-time. As a result, desire for job flexibility seems to be a permanent shift for the global workforce.
This year’s survey reflects this, with most people preferring job flexibility in their careers.
- 75 percent believe flexibility of work location is important.
- 83 percent want work hours that complement their lives.
- 42 percent wouldn’t accept a job if it didn’t provide flexible working hours.
However, according to the data, slightly more than one-quarter of respondents say their employers offer more flexibility around both location and hours worked.
Organizations that continually analyze data around job flexibility and align policies to their mission can more effectively offer the options today’s workforce is looking for.
5. self-improvement: accelerating professional development
Quarantines during the pandemic led to a rapid transformation that highlighted the risk of skills becoming obsolete. As a result, a focus on employee upskilling, reskilling and coaching is imperative for today’s — and tomorrow’s — workforce.
Our survey shows that employees are ready to learn more to grow their career.
- 88% would engage in learning and development programs if given the opportunity.
- 84% would speak with a career coach if they had access to one.
On a positive note, most employees are looking to develop in their current roles (53%) rather than to look for new ones. There is also an interest in developing their soft skills (48%), with the youngest generation most interested in this area.
Employers that look to future needs and develop learning opportunities around them can offer employees the development they seek. Incentivizing such opportunities, including coaching, will result in a more engaged and committed workforce.
The last two years ushered in a new era of work. But one thing hasn’t changed: Organizations are still committed to attracting and retaining the best employees — and those that focus who focus on a people-first mentality can stay ahead of the competition.