Are you giving your employees the things they want most? If not, they may not stick around for long. Over one-third of U.S. employees have switched jobs in the past three years — and more than 90 percent of them left their companies to do so, reports Gallup’s latest State of the American Workplace report.
What are your employees considering when debating whether to stay with your business or seek greener pastures? Gallup identified five key factors that employees look for when assessing a new job and/or a new employer. Here’s the skinny on what they want — and what you can do about it.
What Employees Want Most
1. The Ability to Do What They Do Best
Six in 10 employees say a job that allows them to do what they’re best at is very important. If your employees’ jobs don’t take advantage of their strengths, they’ll get frustrated and bored.
What you should do: When interviewing job candidates, don’t focus solely on the current position you’re filling. Ask about their longer-term career goals and what they hope to achieve in the future. Once employees are hired, work with them to create a personal plan that develops their skills.
2. Better Work-Life Balance
More than half (53 percent) of employees say a job that enables work-life balance and personal well-being is very important. Women, Millennials and Generation X value this especially highly.
What you should do: Offer flextime and/or remote work, if practical. Both are great ways to attract and retain employees. (Gallup reports 51 percent of employees would switch to a job that offered flextime hours.) However, the survey notes, it’s important employees feel they are encouraged to take advantage of work-life balance opportunities. If you work until 9 p.m. every night and never take lunch, your employees won’t feel comfortable asking for flexible hours. If you offer remote work, make sure employees working outside the office feel included as part of the team.
3. Greater Stability and Job Security
Fifty-one percent of employees say stability and job security are very important in deciding whether or not to accept a new job. (Baby boomers care less than other generations about this factor.) Your Millennial and Gen X employees, in particular, are looking for stability — whether from seeing their parents and older family members struggle through recessions, or because of hefty student loans.
What you should do: Share the history of your small business with job candidates and employees — it shows them your business is a stable place to work. In addition to the past, share your vision for the future. What do you want your business to achieve, how do you plan to get there, and how can each employee help you reach that goal?
4. A Significant Increase in Income
Forty-one percent of employees say this is very important in considering a new job. Men are more likely to feel this way than women.
What you should do: At the bare minimum, make sure your wages are competitive with others in your area and industry. Otherwise, employees may feel they have no choice but to leave your company to get a raise. However, competitive pay isn’t all workers are looking for. When evaluating job offers, Gallup notes, emotion plays a bigger role than rationality. Focus not on straight dollars, but on opportunities your business offers to earn bonuses or pay increases based on individual performance and improvement. The report suggests creating different “levels of expertise” within job roles so employees can level up as they learn new skills, even if they don’t become a supervisor or manager. It’s not so much the money that matters as what the money represents — a chance to learn, grow and be rewarded for doing so.
5. The Opportunity to Work for a Company with a Great Brand or Reputation
Over a third (36 percent) of employees say this is very important when considering a job offer.
What you should do: Use marketing, public relations and social media to build a strong reputation for your business and your brand. For example, Gallup suggests, you can share news about awards your business has received, community organizations and activities you contribute to, media coverage and customer testimonials. You may not be able to compete with world-leading businesses like Google or Amazon for employees, but you can burnish your reputation within your own industry and region.
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