What employees really want from their employer (and how this knowledge could help you recruit and retain the right staff)

Most companies will have first-hand experience of how difficult it can be to find the right people with the right skills at the right time. Recruiting new staff can certainly be a minefield, but holding on to good employees can be equally challenging, particularly in a highly competitive labour market. So understanding what motivates employees (and, indeed, potential employees) could prove vital in gaining that all important competitive edge when it comes to recruiting and retaining staff. 

A recent report by Hays [1] explored the key factors influencing workers’ decisions on a range of employment issues, based on a survey carried out across the UK. The table below examines how a range of factors influence decisions by employees on whether to stay in their current role or consider accepting a new position. Whilst pay, perhaps unsurprisingly, has the biggest influence, it is closely followed by culture, career progression and other benefits. In fact, when added together, these 3 factors outweigh salary as the basis for workers ultimately deciding whether to stay or go.

Source: “What Workers Want” report by Hays – 2017

78% of those asked revealed that self-development and progression is important to them in their job.  So making opportunities available for staff to progress into more challenging roles is certainly going to have a positive impact. However, other options, such as providing meaningful training and development opportunities, can be equally effective in engaging and motivating staff.

Many businesses underestimate the influence that cultural fit can have on employee choices, but the survey found that 62% of respondents would be prepared to take a pay cut to work for a business which they consider to be a better cultural fit. Employees are also looking for an employer with a diverse and engaging culture, so it’s worth reflecting on whether organisational culture could be acting as a barrier to improving workforce recruitment and retention within your business.

Benefits may have less influence on employee choices than pay, progression and culture, but employers can often easily improve employee perceptions of their business by simply placing more prominence on the wider benefits package when advertising job vacancies.  The good news is that these needn’t necessarily be costly. Other research [2] found that 40% of people stated free tea and coffee as the perk they value most!

For many, the right working environment could be an important non-financial ‘benefit’, and one that certainly has a strong influence on employee satisfaction, but many employers fail to recognise that small changes to the working environment can also have a significant impact on workforce productivity, attendance, health and happiness. Despite these positive impacts, many companies forget to ask for views of the very people they are hoping will benefit the most when making changes to workspaces.

Source: “What Workers Want 2016” Savills & British Council for Offices

The above graph illustrates the difference between where employees are allowed to work and where they would most like to work, and it makes for interesting reading. Whilst the workplace has seen a marked increase in companies adopting hot-desking, collaboration and homeworking, this research shows that 60% of those surveyed prefer their own dedicated workspace. What is perhaps more surprising, however, is the finding that working from home appeals to 28% of workers, a significant reduction from 45% in 2013. This could perhaps support the view that many employees value the collaborative atmosphere the office environment provides and the social interaction with fellow colleagues.

Whilst businesses should consider these findings carefully, it is important to balance them against the benefits of more flexible and agile working arrangements, which for many yield strong improvements in cross-team communication and collaboration, not to mention work/life balance. The key point perhaps is to take into account a wide range of views and options, and to retain as much flexibility as possible for staff to choose their optimum working environment, without adversely impacting on wider business needs.

So what can we conclude about employee motivations and their relative impact on staff recruitment and retention?

Overall it is clear that a combination of factors creates a positive career experience for employees, and relying on any one alone, whether it be pay, culture, career progression, benefits, office space, or flexible working, could be detrimental to your business’s ability to recruit and retain the right staff.

Understanding what is most relevant to your business, sector and the type of candidates you wish to attract is essential, and will allow you to target your offering to the right pool of potential employees. Effective communication is also critical to managing employee expectations and allowing you greater access to the talent you need.

How Better Jobs, Better Futures can help

Our dedicated Workforce Advisers can work with your business to deliver a wide range of support aimed at enhancing employee engagement and improving workplace planning, progression and productivity.

Better Jobs, Better Futures also offers specialist recruitment and job-matching support through our team of talent management experts, who work with businesses and our wide client base to match the right candidate to the right opportunity.

Working with us can help you to improve your recruitment process, staff retention and talent management to maximise your workforce potential. Call or email us now to find out how we can help your business:

Tel: 01792 284450

Email: info@betterjobsbetterfutures.wales

[1] Hays – “What Workers Want” report – 2017

[2] Reno Founder and Director of a leading exhibition and event company Enigma Visual Solutions – 2017 article “What Employees Want”