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WTF will employees want in 2022?

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With a worldwide pandemic kicking our collective butts in 2020, the new decade has been filled not just with conversations about our way of life, health and prosperity, but about the effect on our working futures as well. We've adapted to new technologies quicker than we might have envisioned. We've embraced remote working, with some of us becoming quite accustomed to wearing activewear on the daily. Plus, the health and safety of our people has never been more important. 

Now 2021 has brought a radical change in our work and social perspectives, and coupled with skills shortages, the balance of power has shifted from employers to employees. Employees no longer want to be thought of as just a number, be focused on for productivity and stretched until they’re nearly burnt out - even if they are paid accordingly. 

So, exactly what are employees looking for in this new world?

 

1. Balance

It may feel a hard task for employers to balance listening, duty of care, agility and digital transformation all at once, but experts are saying we’ve not seen the true impacts of the Great Resignation in Australia yet. There is an excellent opportunity to work with current employees to create better work/life balance  conditions in their daily lives in order to retain them and attract new talent when opportunity knocks.

 

2. Flexibility

It’s easy to throw the word ‘flexibility’ around, but that broad term isn’t specific enough any more. Employees want to know exactly what flexibility means to the company they work for, and how that will be managed. Software development company SixPivot’s work policy gives employees freedom over their working days, work location and working week by using the latest technologies to allow team collaborations and ensure projects are completed. As a result, SixPivot has seen a 20% reduction in personal leave, an increase in staff engagement scores, a low attrition rate of 3% and has been ranked #2 in the Tech industry by AFR’s Best Places to Work 2021.

 

3. Engagement

Some changes associated with the pandemic are actually positive. For example, employee engagement improved during 2020, and remote work had a lot to do with it. This is likely a nod to employee engagement being so much more than fun perks like Friday night drinks. Employees want to be highly engaged as part of teams that are collaborative, have been tasked with meaningful work, are supported both mentally and emotionally, and are heard and valued. 

 

4. Purpose

Employees will no longer accept being seen as just workers with a job they are paid to do, they want to be seen as complex people with full lives where work enriches their overall life experience. Studies show that people who believe that their work matters are four times more likely to be engaged, learn faster, and feel more fulfilled. Employees need to know that what they're doing is making an impact, that their work matters, so it’s important for employers to be transparent on sharing outcomes and celebrate each employee that has contributed. 

 

5. Recognition

While we are on the topic of celebrating employees, there has been a shift in attitudes towards recognition and rewards. Employee of the month is so early noughties and a crappy coffee voucher for $10 is unoriginal and uninspiring. Because so much has changed, so should how employers reward and recognise employees. There is a need to go beyond company swag and shout outs during in person meetings, instead employers should find ways to help improve employee personal lives where they need it the most. This could be offering additional flexible scheduling, tutoring for students or yoga classes to help eliminate and reduce stress. Whatever the recognition or reward, it needs to be personal to the employee, to make them feel valued as an individual.

 

6. Development

When employees are given the tools to do their jobs well and train to advance in their careers, they are more likely to feel inspired to do praheir best work. Reports show that 42% of Australians learned new skills they wouldn’t have learned if it wasn’t for COVID-19, and given that employee engagement was up during this time, we can be confident there is a link. Successful organisations offer personal and professional development that reinforces their employees’ personal sense of purpose. Employers should take a holistic approach to training and development, with a mix of professional training and coursework opportunities as well as personal growth opportunities such as stress management or career development training.

 

7. Support

Employees are seeking a workplace where support is more than a ‘do you need anything?’ once a week. Practical, long-term support practices that take into account their lives outside of work are more valued. For example, Cobild has introduced the ‘Got Your Back’ initiative, a wellbeing and flexible work practice where teams are empowered to do the things important to them. Typically, construction isn’t a very flexible industry and many work very long hours with negative impacts on mental health. ‘Got Your Back’ gives team members the ability to manage their schedule and make time for the things important to them and their family, like leaving early to take the kids to sports practice and know it’s ok, someone else in their team can fill in for them and it is reciprocal.

 

The overall shift brought on by the pandemic means that leaders need to listen to their employees more than ever and show empathy, unity, and genuine care on a daily basis. It’s also never been so important for employers to weave together technology with human agendas in order to attract and retain the best talent.  Companies have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reconfigure the way they work to bring conditions into the future and stabilise their workforce.


If your business needs support in making changes to attract or retain key talent, simply get in touch with us today for a no-obligation discussion of your needs.

 

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