As we settle into post pandemic life, there’s one thing we can all agree on: there is no back to normal.
Employers need to embrace the biggest mindset change of the last decade; one hundred thousand people are not coming back into our industry, and attitudes and the way we work have changed. Candidates are asking for more, actually they are demanding more and the pandemic has made them feel a little more entitled and confident to voice this.
The insights I have gathered over the last six months, from employers and candidates, have enabled me to take a look forward into the future of the workforce, to see what’s needed and to advise companies how to get it right. To stay ahead of the competition, to stay relevant and to move forward employers need to do a lot more than pay a good salary. If one good thing has come out of the pandemic it’s that people are no longer seen as the same; wants and needs differ wildly from person to person and people are demanding to be treated differently. No one really wants to work and whilst this has always been the case, the pandemic has allowed people be more comfortable about voicing this and to ensure that companies appreciate their needs too. This may seem a little entitled, but the progressive companies are realising this and becoming much more people centric in their approach to benefits and the way they treat their employees.
Of course, we should have been doing this before; flexible working should’ve always been the norm, but it took a pandemic for companies to realise that it was actually ok, and that they could trust their staff to deliver. The pandemic has accelerated the employer-employee relationship into a relationship that is now a person-to-person conversation.
Personalisation is not just for big companies. It is about understanding what you have in your armoury rather than just a salary. Everyone’s rushing to pay more money at the moment to secure good talent, but I don’t think that’s the answer. Yes, employers are going to have to pay a little bit more than they would have hoped, because that’s what the market says but you don’t have to overpay because you’ll end up with a workforce that’s being overpaid against their output. And that’s not good for a business.
The whole thing about personalisation is to first understand what you have in your toolkit. Some of the benefits you can offer may be really simple, such as starting benefits (healthcare etc) on day one and not making employees wait until they have passed their probation period. A few extra days holiday is also a great benefit and will be received better than Friday drinks. Now everyone’s at home a bit more, they’re probably more productive but they’re not working as many hours. They’re not working 9-5, they’re probably working 10-4, but getting the same amount of work done. So, what would really happen if you gave everyone six extra days holiday? I’m pretty sure that your business won’t implode overnight, so it’s a great benefit to the employee with little cost or impact to the business.
Candidates are interviewing you, just as much as you are interviewing them. Personalising your offering can make you look like an employer of choice, rather than just A. N. Other company to choose against. If you take a jobseeker’s point of view, they will be looking at your PM job against the other PM job that they’ve been offered, and it’s up to them to make a decision. So, why are they going to say yes to you rather than the other company?
It’s about their standard of living just as much as the cost of living now, but one size does not fit all. Parental leave may be important to some of your team, private healthcare to others. Give your team a pick ‘n’ mix approach and let them decided what is important to them.
Personalisation should also flow into ongoing benefits and ways of working for your existing team. Take the upcoming World Cup; before announcing that you will allow everyone to watch the match, consider that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Do a temperature check and ask your team if it is something they would like to do, you can say that you have some ideas and you’d appreciate their feedback. Forcing people to do something that you consider to be fun may actually alienate them.
Understand what keeps your current team there, but don’t just ask if they would recommend you to a friend – because they will always say ‘yes’. Instead, ask them what they would say to their friends about what it’s like to work there and where it could be improved upon.
Go back to your last couple of recruits and ask them to talk you through the candidate experience from their perspective; what were the pinch points, or clunky parts and discuss how it could be improved. And conversely, what went well? What where the good parts that we need to make more of next time?
The needs of your people are more important than ever, and those needs need to be met. Work life blend is real and remember that it’s not just about you and what you want – it’s about you AND them; Two really is the magic number.