Employee expectations are changing. Are you?

Guest post by Adam Coleman, CEO of Lahinch-based HR software solutions provider HRLocker

Take a good hard look at your business. And be prepared to change it.

Unless you already offer a sign-on bonus and flexible working, you might need to consider it.

In our recent survey, respondents ranked flexible working (64%) and a sign-on bonus (40%) above salary (38%) when considering a new job.

Make no mistake: people still care about receiving financial rewards for doing their job. But now, a new priority is ubiquitous: flexibility.

Employees want to know how the time they spend working will feel. They want to keep picking up the kids from school, attending yoga classes and nipping out for lunch with friends. People want work that fits with their lives.

Flexible working looks different for everyone, and respondents to our survey were specifically interested in working from home. In fact, 67% would only accept a job if they could work from home at least two days a week.

We’re not the only ones noticing changing expectations. According to Gartner, organisations risk losing up to 39% of their workforce if they aren’t offering flexible working. And three-quarters of knowledge workers agree that their flexible working expectations have expanded considerably.

Candidates are savvy about their power and the changing talent market. As vacancies outnumber matching talent, individuals aren’t settling for an average salary or copy-and-paste benefits package.

Multiple job offers come with the opportunity to compare total rewards and negotiate for a better offer. Despite a pending recession, as late as March 2022, one in five global workers planned to quit this year.

When employee expectations change, employers have to be willing to compromise. Recent evidence suggests that what started as a temporary transition to remote work for many companies has resulted in a long-term shift to flexible and remote working models.

And while it’s true that some organisations may not be able to embrace a fully remote model, providing whatever flexibility you can, helps you stand out in the market. Talking to your existing employees can also clarify changing expectations and help you attract similar candidates to your in-house talent.

Though a sign-on bonus only ranked slightly higher than salary in our survey, it indicates a change in what people think about total compensation. Longer-term compensation like pension, incremental pay raises, and stock options are only rewarding after a certain period spent with the company.

Yet, today’s talent demands a more upfront approach. Flexible working is a benefit that employees experience in different ways every day. A sign-on bonus is an immediate gesture that provides employees with a reward before they’ve completed their first month.

A combination of short-term and long-term rewards entice recruits with an initial benefit and inspire their loyalty with future benefits. Unless you provide a little bit of both, you’ll struggle to attract and retain the best people.

And the time in between those short-term and long-term rewards matters too. We’ve spent endless hours researching and reporting on employee experience, and those efforts weren’t in vain. Employees want to use technology and experience the effective use of automation too.

One in three respondents to our survey believe employers should invest in tech to automate tedious tasks, and 23% believe employers should invest more in supporting employees with the use of new technology. Empowering people to embrace new tools and creating meaningful work opportunities through the use of technology means your people can focus on more purposeful work.

Unsurprisingly, candidates want their employers to embrace automation for monotonous tasks. Often seen as the enemy, automation can actually free teams from the mundane work that usually keeps them busy but rarely keeps them satisfied (or furthers the business).

No one can deny the temptation of a hefty salary. But that alone won’t be enough to hire post-pandemic talent. Unless you provide rewards that speak to multiple stages of the employee lifecycle – a sign-on bonus at the beginning, flexible working and tech-enabled employee experience, and longer-term compensation – you’ll struggle to stand out in an oversaturated market.

You might be able to get 100 new hires through the door, but it’s what you do next that counts. Giving employees rewarding moments inside their working hours, instead of just financing what they do outside them, is the real benefit. Isn’t it time you got on board?

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