In light of the “Great Resignation,” many companies are concerned about the future of their workforce. But don’t give up hope quite yet. It’s still too early to know whether employees will actually put in their notice. After all, there’s a big difference between thinking about quitting and actively pursuing a new opportunity. Still, one thing remains true — employees want more out of their work life and they’re willing to fight for what they want.
What is it that’s missing from the employment experience for all these unsatisfied employees?
Well, that depends on who you ask.
The best approach is also the most straightforward — ask your employees directly. If you already have a good rapport with your employees, you can use group or individual check-ins as an opportunity to have these conversations. Anonymous surveys are another great option if you don’t have a strong relationship with your employees just yet. If nothing else, you can hold exit interviews to gain insight into how you may be a better employer.
Though answers may vary widely, we’ve found that when it really comes down to it, employees want more freedom and flexibility, more say in the workplace, more compensation, and more safety and security. Employers that can meet these demands have a major advantage in today’s job market.
Freedom and Flexibility
10 years ago, work-from-home opportunities were few and far in between. Today, for many employees, it has become an expectation. They appreciate the flexibility and freedom that comes with working from home and once they’ve experienced the benefits, they don’t want to give it up.
Allowing remote or hybrid work schedules can provide employees with the chance to:
- Pick up kids from school.
- Take a midday exercise break.
- Use the bathroom without anyone tracking how much time they’re spending away from their workstation.
- Use commute time for something personally rewarding or for getting work done.
Remote work isn’t the only way employees want to see more flexibility. They also want the freedom to decide their own work schedule or at least receive their schedule in advance, the option to take time off without worrying about their paycheck taking a hit, and ample opportunities to advance their career. Of course, workers who are unhappy are less likely to stay, but even if they do stay, they’ll probably feel frustrated, and perhaps, even resentful.
Tip: Schedule a check-in with your staff to find out where they can become more autonomous in their job and professional growth.
A Say in the Workplace
Everyone was shocked when Google employees announced the formation of a minority union earlier last year. After all, tech employees aren’t exactly known for unionizing, and Google has been ranked as one of the best places to work. Some of the union’s objectives are what you’d expect: greater salaries and more protection from abuse and retaliation.
More than that, the union also seeks to have a say in how and with whom the company conducts business. Members of this union want to be able to influence how their initiatives are used. “As a tech employee, it’s a reasonable ask to ensure that this labor is being used for something positive that makes the world a better place,” one employee told NPR.
And guess what? Google employees aren’t alone. Two employees at Amazon resigned in protest after hundreds of employees unsuccessfully petitioned the company to stop selling a book that they said framed transgender identity as a mental illness.
What these employees are really looking for is a cultural fit. They want to do meaningful work for a company that aligns with their beliefs and values. If the culture isn’t up to their standards, they’re willing to quit, but they also know it’s not just up to their employer to define culture. It belongs to them, too.
These employees are willing to organize protests, go on strike, and do whatever it takes to get the attention of the decision-makers if they don’t agree with how their employer conducts business.
Tip: Consider what influences the company culture. Is it solely in the hands of management, or do you approach it as a collaborative effort? If employees aren’t comfortable expressing their opinions about what the culture is and what it should be, what can you do to reassure them and encourage productive discussions?
More Money and Benefits
The desire for a greater salary, excellent benefits, on-the-job training, and financial assistance is nothing new. However, certain industries may allow employees to demand more money in negotiations. Because of this, employers in these industries are promising signing bonuses and other appealing forms of compensation.
Tip: Develop a compensation and benefits plan that takes inflation into account.
Safety and Security
Dealing with the COVID pandemic has shone a light on workplace health and safety practices. With health and safety on everyone’s minds, there’s a considerable need for work that promotes and encourages physical and mental well-being. Workers want to feel safe, and, rightfully, they’re leaving jobs when they don’t.
Tip: Managing safety requirements can be a lot, but it’s only the bare minimum. Make sure your employees also feel safe—physically and psychologically. To do this, make sure employees know they can come to you. Listen to their concerns, let them know you take them seriously, and do what you can to address them.