A new year often brings with it the promise of change, growth, and new beginnings. As we enter a third year of the fight against COVID-19, still reeling from the fact that one in 4 workers left their jobs in 2021 during the “big quit”, there is no denying that 2022 will be “the ‘year of employee’.
This means that it will still be difficult for employers to retain and attract employees in the new year. It remains critical that employers review the situation and develop plans now that will allow them to adapt and pivot as needed.
What employees want
With more than 34 million American workers leaving their jobs in the first 10 months of 2021, exit interviews and labor surveys have provided crucial data that offers insight into employee expectations going forward:
1. Remote workers want to feel seen and appreciated. Employers need to find ways to meaningfully connect with them, individually and as a team. Consider using new feedback mechanisms, such as monthly one-on-one meetings (at least) and exit and stay interviews. Survey employees regularly only if you intend to act on the elements that make sense. Google offers a completely anonymous feedback form that some of my clients find useful.
2. Many employees feel stuck without a clear path forward – they need to feel that their employers are invested in their future. Support the development of your workforce and pay for certifications or soft skills courses, or find another way to help them achieve their educational goals. For example, during quarterly or semi-annual reviews, you can discuss career aspirations and determine the skills and competencies that will be needed to reach the next level of the employee’s career path. Let them know what the compensation for the next role might be. Next, provide a mentor to help the employee achieve their goals in your organization.
3. Flexible work environments are extremely important to most people. Employees are not just looking for remote work, but different schedules, hybrid options, shorter weeks and reducing virtual meetings as much as possible. Employees need to be able to handle the child care issues that have arisen from the pandemic, and they are trying to create a better work/life balance. Offering a more flexible schedule that breaks eight-hour shifts into two shifts or staggered shifts can help.
4. Employees hope to avoid close contact with others. In many manufacturing jobs, it is not possible to work remotely. So, continue to implement and maintain strong disinfection policies and ensure they are followed and communicated so employees know their employer cares about their safety and health. Provide PPE and ask for feedback on what else employees may think is crucial to their safety.
5. Employees want to be paid what they are worth. Review your base compensation by function. Money talks in these uncertain times, so make sure your salaries are competitive, and not just what you think is adequate. Obtain survey data related to your duties and ensure you offer a competitive salary that takes inflation into account. You should also consider bolstering your benefits.
While these five elements paint a broad and universal picture of what employees expect from their employer, there is more you can do to retain and attract the best employees.
Workplace 2.0 is all about balance
Treating employees like the humans they are is the first step to improving company culture. Employees seek a healthy work-life balance with leaders who will respect them, trust them to do their jobs, and put their well-being first.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is going to be huge in 2022. Social injustices have brought DEI to the fore and employees want to see their work friends treated fairly. Most young workers will not support companies that do not support all workers equally. Consider including employee testimonials about your culture as part of your online recruiting campaign.
Leaders should also take training from a certified DEI expert and create a real DEI program. Don’t just put a few ideas on paper and have a training session – create a program that will be ongoing and include training for managers and employees in all aspects of DEI. Change policies to show you mean it. Here are some steps to get you started:
- Allow employees time for religious prayer without making them feel uncomfortable or burdened.
- Consider specific paid days off for promoting diversity, such as Juneteenth or International Volunteer Day.
- Set up paternity leave or other paid leave programs that support the family.
- Make sure leaders understand the difference between equality and fairness. Equality is about making things the same for everyone. Equity means everyone gets what they individually need to succeed. If you don’t create fair opportunities, nothing will change.
- Continually assess the effectiveness of the program, ensuring you hire, promote and train the best people for their jobs. You will know your measures are working when morale is higher, skill levels are improved across the board, and there are few or no complaints of discrimination.
Increasing benefits offerings, especially mental wellness and paid time off, are also particularly important now. If you are not already doing so, consider offering an employee assistance program (EAP) or allowing expanded telehealth services (e.g., Teladoc) that will provide increased access to psychologists, psychiatrists, and other healthcare professionals. mental health.
The COVID-19 pandemic has fanned the flames of an already growing mental health crisis in America, compounding the need for workers to have access to mental health care. According to Korn Ferry “The 7 Areas Dominating the Future of Work Trends in 2022,” 89% of professionals say they suffer from burnout, and 81% say they are more burnt out today than at the start of the pandemic.
Company policies focused on employee well-being, such as flexible work hours and family leave, help foster resilience and reduce stress and burnout. Encouraging employees to take short breaks throughout the day, take lunch breaks outside of work, and avoid checking email or working on weekends and holidays will also help.
Communicate transparently for better recruiting results
Once you’ve made the necessary adjustments to meet the most critical needs and wants of your current employees, it’s time to focus on improving your recruitment strategy. Step up your recruiting game and compete for talent by doing the following:
- Show off your impeccable and safe installations. In manufacturing, it is especially imperative that candidates who cannot work remotely see the areas where they will be working and taking breaks. They will want to observe for themselves that areas are clean and that appropriate disinfection efforts are supported.
- Include a summary of the company’s commitment to employee safety in the “Company Summary” section of any job posting.
- Consider providing a “day in the life” video to increase candidate interest. Include testimonials from current employees, if possible, which should reflect the positive aspects of their employer and their job.
- Review your career page and make sure it answers common candidate questions and effectively showcases the culture. Add it to the job posting.
- Consider using different state job sites and other job search companies that you have used in the past. Working with local colleges and universities, high schools, and professional associations can also be very helpful. If you are still struggling to find qualified candidates, consider outsourcing human resources or recruitment companies to help you build a pool of candidates.
Offer a promising culture
None of the steps listed in this article will be possible if you don’t first ensure that it will be a true top-down effort. When employers demonstrate their support and care for their employees by building trust, providing flexibility, providing emotional and physical safety, and increasing DEI efforts, they help create a culture that will shine like a beacon.
Amy Turner is the Manager of Strategic HR Advisory Services for G&A Partnersa leading professional employers’ organization (PEO) that has been helping entrepreneurs grow their business for over 25 years.