Future Focus: Changing Employee Expectations

Written by
Nancy Jones

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In a post-pandemic world of increasingly sophisticated technology, more individual mobility, and quickly shifting generational needs and desires, today’s job seekers are not always looking for a long tenure with one employer offering standard benefits and traditional workplace parameters.

It’s a new era, forward-thinking organizations are assessing employee expectations and quickly shifting the workplace to meet them while meeting and exceeding business goals and objectives.

Meeting these employee expectations is critical to recruiting and retaining top talent. So, what are people looking for in the post-pandemic era? Here are several items to consider.

Flexible working arrangements

The shift to remote and hybrid working is here to stay. Smart employers have maintained this arrangement finding it works well for them or looked for other ways to be flexible like rotating work from home schedules or allowing flexible hours.  Increasingly, candidates are screening potential employers based on the level of flexibility they offer.

This shift requires leadership and managerial re-education and open-mindedness on how to best manage, incentivize, communicate with, and motivate this workforce.

For many employers, this is a win-win proposition rather than a concession, allowing them to rethink their square footage requirements while maximizing employee engagement and productivity. Some companies have moved to a choice-based model, giving workers full autonomy over where and when they work. Others use job functions to determine schedules, assessing which roles benefit most from in-person interactions.

To get maximum buy-in for your strategy, be open with candidates and employees about why you’ve chosen this model and how it benefits both them and the business.

Health & wellness

A focus on health and wellness has become a must-have for many employees. Workplaces now need to consider providing non-traditional benefits including emotional, financial, and overall holistic health support to their employees.

The past several years have been difficult in many previously unimaginable ways. Employers can learn from the experience. Employees are now seeking holistic health and wellness types of benefits – less focused on traditional medical insurance and more driven by substantive benefits such as:

  • Mental Health benefits
  • Mindfulness classes
  • Free or subsidized childcare
  • Elder care assistance
  • Flexible schedules
  • Increased time off

This includes putting more emphasis on looking after the mental well-being of staff and encouraging supportive and inclusive working environments more than ever before. Simply offering an Employee Assistance Plan is no longer enough.

An open & inclusive culture

Culture building, including improving fairness, trust, and empathy in the workforce are more critical than ever. To do this, however, businesses need to go beyond creating policies and procedures and focus imbed their cultural philosophies in policy design and development.

Communication with employees is important. From focus groups and individual one-on-one sessions to surveys, employees are increasingly passionate about being heard.

The “great resignation” has demonstrated how quickly employees have become comfortable in seeking the type of environment and organization that respond to their needs; it’s not just a job anymore.  Think about incorporating Stay Interviews into the fabric of your organization by talking to employees to find out what they like and what they struggle with at your organization.  This should be done by a neutral third party or a trusted partner.

In addition, transparency is becoming more and more important, bring in newer staff to get feedback and ideas to incorporate into the organization, find out what is on the new staff’s mind.  Often asking for thoughts and opinions and sharing the why something is decided is helpful to staff and creates loyalty and trust which are so important to employees today.

Let’s meet your employees’ expectations

There is no one size fits all approach to these elements. Organizations needs to assess its own priorities balancing business and employee needs. However, for better or for worse, the pandemic has forced employees and employers to shift expectations enormously. In this shift come many benefits and challenges.

Learning new skills, increasing emotional flexibility, learning optimism, and developing the capacity to pivot and rebound have stretched us all into new realms. All these skills and the opportunities they have revealed may teach us to build a future rich with possibility.

For expert recommendations and suggestions on what your organization can do to retain and attract talent, contact the HR practice at Insource Services to help you navigate the new world of employee expectations at 781-235-1490 or insource@insourceservices.com.