Employment has experienced a dramatic power shift.
And that power has fallen into the hands of candidates. Which means businesses are having to make rapid changes to accommodate them. Fortunately, there is one thing that’s uniting all workers right now. And that’s the principle of flexibility.
This doesn’t just refer to where employees place their desk – employers want flexible hours, working locations, equity options, and learning and development programs. In the same way that retail has seen a growing desire for personalisation, workers too, are looking for ways to customise their jobs.
The last two years have taught us the world can change almost overnight. Candidates are seeking perks and benefits that reflect an unpredictable world. The four trends we’re about to share will help you acquire and retain talent in 2022. But keep the concept of flexibility in mind. Because we might be the HR experts, but you know your team best. And if you don’t, then maybe start there.
Employees will want to take their remote working one step further and experiment with exciting new locations. Maybe the coffee shop that just opened on their street, the library in their local town, or a new country altogether.
The rise of digital nomadism has shown that considerably more people are finding ways to customise their work style and make it fit with their lifestyle. These communities have typically been home to freelancers or contractors, but with remote working options for all, employed people are going to want these options too.
After sacrificing so much time during the pandemic, workers will be looking for ways they can merge their desire to travel with their professional lives.
This follows the trends that we’ve been seeing throughout the pandemic: employees want work on their own terms. Whether that’s candidates refusing roles that don’t offer flexible working, or the great resignation.
Businesses can facilitate this remote-first transition by adopting a location independent business model, so that employees can work their contracted hours at any time of the day (or night). This won’t be possible in every industry, but even just providing a small adjustment to working hours shows that you respect your employees’ personal lives, too.
Where, when, and the length of time people spend on the job is all up for debate in the new world of work. Four-day work weeks are no longer a trendy benefit for buzzy start-ups – in fact, almost half of UK workers want a four day week in 2022.
But it’s not just a perk for employees. Businesses can expect increased productivity when they adopt a four-day work week. Just look at the data from Microsoft’s trial back in 2019. They achieved an astronomical 40% increase in productivity. Demonstrating that time spent at the desk is no indication of how much work gets done.
And if your four day week’ers want to spend some of their hours working from home, a coworking space, or Bali, it’s your responsibility as an employer to make sure the infrastructure is there to support them. Employees no longer wish to be chained to a set number of hours, on a set number of days. Businesses should look at ways they can implement a results-based system, so that performance is measured on achievement and not time spent at the desk.
During the pandemic, individuals balancing a number of priorities had more freedom to organise the workday around family, friends, hobbies, and community responsibilities. It’s unlikely they’ll want to see these freedoms disappear, so employers need to consider how they can make this flexibility a staple in their culture.
This investment should also apply to digital infrastructure. Commit to providing the most effective tools and programs for your employees. Invite them to suggest their own solutions and encourage them to take advantage of free trials and training to see if there’s a better way of doing things.
While it isn’t as sexy as something like a stocks and shares scheme (more on that shortly), this investment will resonate most with younger generations who want tech autonomy (the ability to choose which platforms, systems, and devices they use for their job).
What’s the most tangible way you can share the success of your company with your colleagues? By giving them a real stake in it through an employee stocks and shares scheme. While you might not be able to compete with the big players on salary, providing stocks in the company is one way you can boost employees’ earnings while remaining within your salary budget.
A benefits staple since the 70s, these schemes are becoming increasingly popular again, and getting easier to implement by the minute. There are a whole host of apps and experts that can help you design and adopt a shares scheme to reward your employees.
Research suggests that these perks can do wonders for productivity, too. When your input has a traceable impact on the financial success of the company – which you get to share in – it’s an extraordinary incentive for to contribute.
The biggest mistake employers can make when implementing an employee stocks and shares scheme is not providing clear guidance for employees. Make sure you have legal support, and access to financial expertise so that employees can make an informed decision.
Here’s something that might surprise you: 94% of employees are likely to stay with a company for longer if they provide learning and development opportunities. For companies without a sufficient program, that means they could be at risk of losing the majority of their staff, long before they should be.
As we explored in our recent employee experience white paper, L&D are motivated by opportunities to progress – which gives a welcome boost to engagement and productivity levels too.
While these opportunities are often spoken about in the context of young recruits (who, according to our white paper, consider learning to be the top priority ), it’s a critical perk for every generation in the workforce.
L&D also provides another perk for employees – human connection. After years spent in and out of lockdowns, we’re all craving opportunities to connect and develop. While sales of online course over this time might suggest people have been doing just fine in that department, inspirational moments happen when we spend time with others.
So bring in inspiring speakers and specialised training that encourages employees to explore their unique abilities. Make sure you’re creating space for employees to regularly share their progress, interests, and goals for development so that you’re providing the ideal selection of opportunities.
This year is about providing your people with the means to do their best work. For the new mum, that might be adjusted hours so that she can spend time with her family. For the Gen Z recruit, that could be a training program that help them elevate their skillset.
Keep your options open, and invite your staff to suggest their favourite perks. But whatever you do, don’t hesitate – the future of work is already here.