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A recent survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) of 1,800 Australian workers titled The Future of Work – What workers want: Winning the war for talent has useful insights for businesses wanting to retain valued staff. If the projected ‘Great Resignation’ kicks off in Australia early next year, it’s a good idea for organisations to be on the front foot with incentives to attract and retain talent.

Identifying What Workers Want

The PwC survey highlighted a sizeable difference between what workers actually want and what senior leaders think their people want. 

Employer perspective

According to the survey, top executives overestimated initiatives such as on-the-job learning, access to mentoring/coaching and their company’s commitment to the environment as key attraction levers for staff and prospective employers. However, these initiatives are actually baseline expectations of most employees. It’s also notable that these measures are often easy to implement with minimal financial investment. 

If your business wants to set itself apart and be more attractive to candidates and current employees in a competitive job market, initiatives like these need to be above and beyond what other companies are doing. More importantly though, your company needs to address what it is that your workers really want.

Employee perspective

Of course, different workers will value different things, and this will probably change over the course of their career. However, employees identified some key priorities that are often undervalued by top executives. These are:

  1. Pay. If organisations want to retain and attract talent at this time, then they need to ensure they are offering competitive remuneration packages. It’s also important to reward workers who are excelling in their job.

    Ask yourself if you have the right mechanisms set up to frequently review pay and reward structures in order to retain talent.
  2. Working alongside good co-workers. It makes a lot of sense that employees place a high value on being able to work collaboratively with productive, pleasant and professional colleagues. Toxic colleagues or bosses have the capacity to make our working lives a misery. However, top executives often aren’t proactive in taking disciplinary action against workers who behave badly to their colleagues or staff. 

    Ask yourself how your organisation fosters a collaborative, respectful and supportive working environment? Consider what steps you have in place to take action to resolve conflicts and issues that arise amongst workers.
  3. Work-life balance. A multitude of studies have shown that employee wellbeing and job satisfaction greatly increases if staff are empowered with choice and an element of control. These days the ability for employees to work from home (at least part-time) has become an expectation. 

Establishing the right balance for individual workers is key – you should not have a one-size fits all policy. Ask yourself if your company has a clear position on flexibility and working from home? 

The candidate-driven market we’re experiencing means that attraction is trumping retention. Employers who want to excel in this market will need to offer highly attractive salaries, clear incentives and policies around work-life balance in order to sell the benefits of their organisation’s people and culture.