The media stories speak for themselves.
Just like today’s real estate market, it’s an employee’s job market. Companies are hemorrhaging talent and struggling to rehire. As of last month, there were 8.4 million unemployed individuals in the U.S. despite 10 million job openings. Job-seekers are able to be more selective and can negotiate terms that work best for their lives. After 18+ months of raise and bonus freezes, the chaos of managing work and life from home and historic levels of burnout, employees are:
- quitting if their employer hasn’t met their needs, which can be anything from increased flexibility to competitive compensation — resignations are up 13% from pre-pandemic levels;
- “Polyworking” — 64% say they already are doing more than one job or hoped to in the future;
- collecting unemployment instead of returning to low-paying jobs — there are 4.9 million more people who aren’t working or looking for work than there were before the pandemic;
- retiring early — to the tune of 2 million more employees than expected;
- becoming entrepreneurs — Americans have filed a record 1.4 million applications to start new businesses; and
- saying to hell with the corporate 9-to-5 all together in favor of freelance or gig work — more than 10 million U.S. employees are considering it.
Given this state of affairs, how does an employer set itself apart to attract and retain top talent? As someone who quit not one, but two, full-time jobs over the course of the pandemic, I’ll tell you what hooked me and how to create an employee value proposition that helps you find the best talent for your team at a time when employees hold all the power.
First, stop thinking anyone is “lucky” to have a job
This is not your parents’ or grandparents’ job market. The days in which employers believe their workers should be grateful just to have a paycheck are gone. Today’s top employees will only go where they are most valued and compensated — not just with money, but with working flexibility, a sense of purpose, a compelling company mission, values that resonate, and a commitment to diversity, inclusion and social good. A survey of 500 Millennial and Gen Z workers by Elements Global Services found that 78% are questioning what they want to do in their career due to the pandemic. And we already knew that Millennials in particular care more about how their employers treat people and give back to society.
As Infosys President Ravi Kumar told Yahoo Finance at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference, “70% of the people are wanting to be having human connections, and 70% of the people are actually saying they want to have more flexibility. So the great reshuffle in some sense is all about finding new purpose, finding new priorities for employees to actually connect to employers who fall into the same purpose.”
So what’s your value proposition?
Given the changing job landscape, it’s more important now than ever before for employers to be explicit about the value their prospective employees get from them. Compensation in itself is no longer enough. We should all be able to answer the question: Why us? Why this company? Why should anyone join? Why do our people stay?
Every employer already understands the value they are getting out of an employee, and that value is denominated in the salaries we receive. But in too many cases, the employees themselves don’t see much value beyond their salary, which makes taking an inbound recruiter call just that much easier when things aren’t going perfectly.
A strong employee value proposition will apply to everyone equally, from the intern all the way up to the CEO. And while your employee value prop will be specific to your business, there are a few prompts all employers can consider given what we know about the current hiring market:
- Who will the employee work with, and what makes them great teammates?
- What unique challenges will they be empowered to tackle?
- How will they make an impact, in context of the company mission and values?
- How will they contribute to the company winning?
- How will they grow personally and professionally from their job?
- Will they have fun at work, and if so, how?
Keep in mind that the answers to these questions will attract individuals that identify with them and will serve to set expectations about their tenure with the company. Being less than truthful about the company’s culture will inevitably catch up to you in the form of attrition and reputational damage, both as a company and as an individual manager.
Practically speaking, after you’ve created your employee value prop, you’ll want to weave its messaging into your values and your recruitment efforts. Everything from your job descriptions, to the way you address candidates, to your company LinkedIn page, to your interview process should reflect this messaging.
It goes both ways
Of course, every employee should have a clear expectation of what they want out of a job, and should be explicit with their manager every step along the way. Companies and managers who care about their employees enough to meet those needs tend to have happier, more fulfilled, and, therefore, more productive employees. Happy people tend not to quit, even if a better opportunity comes their way. Being transparent about what you have to offer from the outset and then actually delivering on it will lead to more prospective employees actively choosing to work with you and lower turnover for those already on your existing team.