workers

Here’s what workers really want in 2019

Denver South is an economic powerhouse in large part because of our highly skilled workforce. Home to six of the nine Fortune 500 companies that call Colorado home, and a hub for industries from energy to aerospace to finance, the region employs thousands.

But, what do these workers want, and more importantly, how can companies effectively recruit and retain them?

What do employees want most?

Flexibility and Work/Life Balance.

The most important employee perks are home/work balance and flexibility, according to the 2018 Workforce Mindset Study by Alight Solutions.

Technology has dramatically reshaped the nature of work: workers are typically able to log on to work anytime, anywhere, and on-demand. With this ability to connect at any time comes a new set of employee-driven needs—namely, the need for the technology to work both ways. In other words, if technology can help workers to complete their work anywhere, anytime, then workers want a say on the parameters of when they prefer to work.

That might mean that an employee work from home for a few days of week, or that work-from-home employee takes off between 5PM and 9PM every night to have dinner with his family and do the bedtime routine, but then will jump back on to work if a project comes up.

The bottom line is that workers want to complete their workload in the way that’s most suitable for them. Rarely does that mean strictly between nine and five within the confines of a cubicle.

To Feel Valued.

As work has crept into home offices, to kitchen tables, and cell phones everywhere, employees can’t pretend that their life is one-dimensional. Instead, employees want employers to acknowledge them both personally and professionally. Employees are increasingly leveraging work to gain more fulfillment and pursue personal and professional goals, according to 2019 U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study by MetLife.

This doesn’t, however, mean that work is strictly a means to an end. Workers also want to see value in their work product and see their own values reflected in their company’s. This is good news for employers, as workers increasingly aspire to be personally invested in their company and in their work.

Opportunity for growth.

To be clear, growth doesn’t necessarily mean a rigid path up the hierarchical ladder. Instead, it means consistent opportunities to grow skill-sets and rise to new challenges. Re-read #2 above and now consider that in a stagnant role or professional environment, an employee-led push for professional growth may also come at personal crossroads.

Is your seemingly happy employee suddenly pushing for an elevated role as they purchase a home or have a second child? Does that mean it is the right time to finally give them one?

More time off.

The top emerging benefit, according to the 2019 U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study by MetLife is unlimited time off. Tethered to work 24/7, workers want the promise of a chunk of time to turn off devices and disconnect. This might come in the form of an unlimited vacation policy, or for most companies, just a longer stretch of available time off when workers are truly allowed to step away from work.

What is an employer to do?

All that said, how can employers meet those needs and attract / retain the best workers for their needs?

Focus on employee skills and how they meet organizational needs.

According to the 2018 Global Talent Trends study by Mercer, organizations need to focus on “the work to be done and the associated skills needed, matching with employee capabilities rather than years of experience in a particular job.” It’s time to rethink old models and ask employees to rise to new challenges. They will.

Value employees.

Simple enough, right? But, when deadlines are hitting and sales are pending, it can be hard to remember that Jason really need to leave by 5:30 on Monday because of a personal commitment. What was that again? Does he play baseball in an adult league, or is it is son’s practice? Make a note of which, don’t email him until the next morning, and if there’s a good moment the next day, ask how it went.

Use technology to be flexible.

Today’s technology goes beyond email on a phone. There are lots of platforms that make regular work-from-home policies, or just flexible work policies, more feasible. These perform functions such as increasing access to shared files, tracking time, and real-time communication apps.

Encourage time off.

Don’t be afraid to let employees disconnect. Instead, have a protocol set up for coverage and ask that all communications be vacation-related. The national law firm Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe offers employees who meet certain criteria a paid vacation of up to $15,000 to acknowledge the sacrifice they made working long hours away from their families. The purpose of this opportunity is to encourage qualifying employees to unplug and practice self-care. When you encourage time off, your employees will come back refreshed and ready to jump back in.

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