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Employees Know What They Want. This is How Employers May Respond.

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Recently, ManpowerGroup surveyed 8,000+ people in 8 countries to gain more insight into what they are feeling about work these days. Some of the feedback was somewhat expected, while other responses were a bit of a surprise. I get the benefit of working closely with employers, employees and job candidates, and I see the research play out in real life across the country. This is the first in a series of short articles in which I’ll share my perspectives on what we learned from the research and what you can do next with that information to make the new next better for all.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of employees indicated their number one concern as keeping their job followed closely by health concerns. How do they keep their families housed, clothed and fed AND keep them safe from the virus---it’s the hat trick, right? And, probably many of us identify with those concerns.

Workers were “reintroduced” to spending time with their families in the beginning stages of the pandemic due to mandatory shutdowns and the need to isolate. Perhaps a better way to think about it is that workers were reminded of the importance of family relevant to work. This led to a large percentage of workers desiring things like remote work and flexibilities in schedule wherever possible.

We also learned there were often wide differences in how workers thought about returning to work dependent upon their generation classification.

Boomers? Let’s get back to work at the office. Gen-Z? Let’s get back to work so we can continue collaborating and learning leading to ultimately increased earning potential. It’s not all about money for Gen Z, but it is pretty high on the list. Millennials? Well, they tended to be more concerned about being exposed to the virus by other workers, they do not like commuting, and they absolutely do not want to lose the flexibility they may have gained during their organization’s COVID response.

Becky Frankiewicz, President of ManpowerGroup North America, likes to call it “the new next” because there is no “new norm.” Things change as quickly as the world has information and the “new norm” of 4 months ago is already outdated.

The new next has also brought with it a whole new set of competing factors for workers, which complicates matters for employers. Companies need to be thinking differently about how they attract, recruit and retain people.

Here’s why:

  • There has been and will continue to be a talent shortage in the US
  • High unemployment rates have in some cases made it more challenging for employers to find the skilled talent they need -- in manufacturing specifically where some markets and verticals are seeing enormous increases in demand.
  • We are ingrained in communities across the country and see that workers are facing unique challenges today. They have health and safety concerns related to the pandemic. They have concerns about childcare and schooling. Some people are being more cautious in leaving their current role for a new opportunity. And in some cases, this leads to people opting out of the workforce in order to prioritize their role as caretaker, teacher, and beyond.
  • Companies must rethink how they approach health and safety protocols, internal communication, flexible work options, and performance management based on outcomes vs. presenteeism. Those companies that resist or delay adapting to these changes are finding it difficult to attract and retain the best talent.

There’s a saying in recruiting solutions: Those who have the talent win. This statement has never been more applicable. In recruiting, that has been our mantra for years which is why we have carefully crafted our relationships with employees over the years.

Employers – just a head’s up. If you are not currently an employer of choice… If you are not reviewing every nook and cranny of your organization to understand what you may do to become an employer of choice in your area, your industry, your markets served…. You are behind.
Whether you’re catching up or refining your approach, here are a few areas to review:

Inventory your company’s positions

  • Is remote work possible?
  • Is flexible scheduling possible? Can you introduce new shifts (2nd is the new 1st shift for parents with children and scheduling issues as an example)
  • Is job sharing possible?
  • KPI’s – Can performance be based upon outcome or what is produced versus how many hours spent in an office in front of a computer?
  • Are you supplementing supervisory training with how to manage workers who work remotely?

Address health concerns head on

  • Is your current safety/health in the workplace plan working?
    • Have you had outbreaks of COVID-19?
    • Do you perform contact tracing when someone tests positive for the virus?
    • Do you have a process for sharing information and ensuring that the work areas are sanitized inspiring confidence?
    • Do you have access to services where your employees may get support from professionals such as counseling for depression, financial issues, childcare and elder care issues?
    • Are you then communicating clearly to your workers that you take their health and safety seriously? Have you outlined and emphasized the new protocols you put in place to keep them safe?

If as an employer, you look at these two basic areas – flexibility and health concerns – and do whatever is humanly possible to respond to them, you are well on your way to becoming an employer of choice. Attracting and keeping talent will still not be easy but, it will be more effective.

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