“Cash is king” – it’s a simple axiom learnt and repeated by generations of business leaders.
But not, it seems, by their employees. While the need to earn a salary is what compels most of us to work, salary alone is far from the only – or even the most important – driver for both jobseekers and workers.
Earlier this year, an Indeed study revealed how few jobseekers class their pay packet as the most important factor in their jobs; just 12% said they are primarily driven by money alone.
Now it seems companies are waking up to this reality too. Staff retention is as important as ever, with UK unemployment at a 43-year low and a consequently shallow talent pool for employers to be recruiting from.
Earlier this year, Indeed teamed up with the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) to survey more than 1,000 businesspeople and take the temperature of the current jobs market.
The results reveal the scale of the challenge for employers. Millennials in particular seem well attuned to priorities beyond their pay cheque – a healthy work-life balance, for example, and the ability to work flexible hours – and, faced with the current chronic skills shortage and tight labour market, what can employers do?
Making staff an offer they cannot refuse
One powerful way for employers to find and keep good staff is to offer training and development. Of employers surveyed by the BCC and Indeed, 42% said they were willing to do so if it meant they could retain and attract employees, while 38% were open to allowing staff to work more flexible hours.
Many jobseekers and employees understandably see the current situation as a seller’s market. The power is particularly in the hands of those with specialist skills and experience, who are highly sought after and in theory spoilt for choice.
As a result, companies are having to think smarter just to hold onto their workforce, let alone attract new staff. And it’s here that the prospect of training and development, for example, can be dangled like a big shiny carrot for potential recruits or wantaways.
However, Tara Sinclair, economist and senior fellow at Indeed, offers some suggestions to mitigate the risk of any short-termism that might be inherent in these shifts in the market.
“Investing in training should not be viewed as a short-term fix to keep hold of the best talent,” she says. “Rather, it should be seen as an opportunity for employers of all sizes to unlock the long-term potential in their staff.”
No problems, only solutions
If anything, this should be viewed as an opportunity. Jobseekers’ priorities do not always shift in sync with those of employers, but there is now real scope for companies to adapt and respond.
Money will always talk, but right now other things are perhaps speaking more loudly. Indeed found earlier this year, for example, that more than half of employees would turn down a pay rise if it meant working in an environment or with people they did not like.
Adding this into a tight labour market, you can see why a new approach might now prove beneficial.
The notion of work-life balance is now a well-established and important consideration for us all, and it is clear how quickly it has become a priority, both for employees and for bosses looking to do right by their staff.
Young jobseekers today are aware they are going to be working for a long time; 40 or 50 years in all likelihood. Enjoyment and fulfillment are the new priorities, and finding a job that allows these desires to be met is crucial.
Plan of action
Unlimited holiday time is one approach that might be worth considering, and has started to be introduced in some forward-thinking businesses. Tara Sinclair also reports that searches across Indeed’s sites for ‘flexible jobs’ have reached a three-year high.
Allowing staff to work from home, or remotely, could be another effective idea. It can often boost the employee’s productivity by allowing them to avoid the stress and time of rush hour travel; it can ease the strain of juggling personal or family commitments and work; it can empower employees, entrusting them to work more efficiently.
Personal growth and improvement is also increasingly important. The chance to learn new skills, as well as gain valuable real world experience while doing a job, is a highly attractive proposition for jobseekers and employees looking to improve both their future career prospects and their own individual sense of worth. Of course, training does not come for free, but investment in existing staff is a mutually beneficial course of action in many cases.
What all of the non-salary elements of a job combine to do is increase staff loyalty. For an employee with other job offers are on the table, it can become a case of weighing up whether a 5% pay boost for jumping ship is more valuable than the balance of life their current role gives them.
The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, but talented employees are often tempted to peer over it when salary competition between employers is so intense.
In the current tight labour market, employers should boost their ability to both recruit and retain talent by looking beyond their salary levels. Just as a happy workplace is more than the sum of its staff, happy staff see their job as more than just a paypacket.