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Employee Engagement

Pandemic will force firms to address key candidate concerns to attract and retain talent

  • Support and care for employees key for candidates when choosing employer
  • Stimulating and innovative work environment, career development and making a contribution also scored highly
  • Most prefer firms to stay neutral on social justice and political issues
  • Majority want vaccinations and masks to be required in the workplace
  • Candidates want to know employer values before applying
  • Companies are not effectively communicating the right information in their Employer Brand

Support and care for employees is the number one criterion for choosing and remaining with an employer, according to new research from recruitment firm Monster, undertaken in November 2021.  Monster believes that this may be largely the result of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

A survey of 400 UK employees from a wide range of organisations across a variety of sectors asked respondents to mark factors in order of importance when considering an employer.

The survey found that nearly 60% (59.5%) ranked “care” as the top or second consideration when looking for at work, with 34% ranking it as their top priority.  While slightly more (34.8%) ranked economic factors such as competitive pay, benefits and job security as number one, overall “care” was considered more important, by more people.

Having an interesting job was the third most important factor, with 45.1 % ranking a stimulating and innovative work environment as either their second or third consideration, while only 4.8% listed a good social atmosphere, including teamwork and camaraderie as most important to them.

The least important factors were career development – with 50.1% ranking work in an organisation which invests in growing employees and providing paths to promotion 5th or 6th.  Finally, almost half (48.8%) rated being able to apply their skills in a challenging way and feeling that they are making a real contribution to be the least important factor.

The majority of respondents wanted to know an organisation’s position on the most important factor to them before even considering a company as a potential employer or applying for a specific job.

Others wanted to know when applying, with the information either provided in a job advert or on a firm’s careers site. Only 14.5% were happy to leave discussion of these issues to the interview or selection process stage.  Very few (4.5%) said that they would be happy to leave understanding a potential employer’s position on these matters until they had joined.

When asked about whether an organisation they plan to work for should take a stand on social issues such as BLM and trans rights, almost 58% of those who responded said they would prefer them to remain neutral, although quite a high percentage (42%) stated that they thought organisations should have a public viewpoint. This was mirrored in a follow-up question about whether firms should go public with their views on political issues such as Brexit and Scottish independence, with nearly 69% wanting prospective employees to remain neutral.

However, when asked whether a company’s reputation on social justice or political issues would influence them on whether or not to work for them, 55% said that it would, while 45% said it would not.

Interestingly, the majority of those who replied to a question about whether Covid-19 vaccinations should be required for those returning to the workplace (51.5%) said they should be required, while nearly 41% said they did not think organisations should have a vaccine policy for their staff beyond meeting the minimum legal requirement.

A high percentage (56%) of those asked about their views on wearing masks at work felt that companies should require staff to wear masks if meeting face to face. A slightly lower number (50.5%) wanted firms to stipulate mask wearing by customers, if meeting face to face, while 31% felt that it was not appropriate to have a policy beyond meeting the minimum legal requirements.

Claire Barnes, Monster’s Chief Human Capital Officer, commented, “This survey shows that applicants are being very discerning about who they prefer to work for.  In a market where candidates have a wider choice of roles than ever before, it’s too late for employers to leave discussion of important issues until after selection. Most candidates now want to know the attitude of potential employers to these criteria before they will even consider working for them.”

She continued, “It is perhaps not surprising, given the pandemic, that employees have put care top of their wish list. Employees will remember how employers treated them. There are essentially two areas where employers may be falling short. First, living up to the values and practices that employees want to see. Second, communicating what they are doing authentically and effectively.”

Claire added, “At Monster, wellbeing is central to our human resources strategy and approach. We have seen how much our employees appreciate flexibility and are far more focused on self-care. As an organisation we have adapted our benefits and policies to support this.

The pandemic will, in effect, force firms challenged by the ‘great resignation’ to address their employer branding. Only living up to candidates’ values, and communicating this, will attract and retain the best talent.”

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