By business author and Purple Cubed founder, Jane Sunley
One day, an HR manager (HRM) tragically passed away. When he reached the pearly gates, he found that heaven was overcrowded. Saint Peter suggested give hell a try for a day. The HRM stepped off the downward escalator into a beautiful garden, with choirs singing, bountiful food and drink and happy, welcoming people. Having enjoyed a great day, before he knew it, it was time to leave. Arriving back at the gates of a, still congested, heaven, the HRM elected to spend eternity in hell. However, when he returned, he stepped off the elevator into a dark and desolate wasteland, full of miserable, wailing people. When the Devil appeared, the HRM cried that he didn’t understand, as yesterday he’d had a wonderful time. “Ah”, said the devil “yesterday we were recruiting you, today you’re an employee”.
This old joke still resonates because, sadly, so many job seekers are sold the dream and then find that the reality just doesn’t stack up. A recent study found that almost half (48%) of employees leave a role because it wasn’t what they expected it to be. Amongst Generation Z (those employees aged 23 and under) this figure was even higher at 73%.
Not only is the recruitment process failing, businesses aren’t delivering on their people promise and are unclear on their purpose and values. This simply isn’t going to entice this ‘pause generation’ (or anyone else today) into work and keep them there.
McKinsey put it succinctly; “The best workers do the best and the most work. But many companies do an awful job of finding and keeping them”.
To successfully attract and retain talent, businesses must be clear about their purpose and values – their cultural ‘DNA’, if you like. One study reported that over a quarter of leavers do so because they didn’t mesh well with their fellow employees or their organisation. This is because companies still recruit without reference to their ultimate purpose and ‘how things are ‘done around here’. It’s not about cloning; it is about assembling a richly diverse group of employees who can all unite behind a compelling purpose and set of values that align with their own aspirations. If you’re not already recruiting against your purpose and values, it’s time to start. This approach will result in better employee engagement and therefore better retention, lessening the need to recruit in the first place.
To put substance around this, you’ll need a completely compelling ‘offer’ – the deal your people can expect. The foundation of your employer brand, this used to be called the ‘employee value proposition’ (EVP) or, more colloquially ‘the people promise’. It’s less about what you call it; what does matter is that you build something that is exciting, relevant and authentic and then continuously and consistently deliver on it.
Pay and benefits, if they ever were, are no longer the priorities. For example, according to 2019 Best Places to Work in Hospitality outcomes, hospitality employees value the following (in this order):
- Team respect
- Work-life balance
- Positive working environment
- Working as a team to produce results
- Being paid on time
Flexibility is key. For every good example, such as the high street restaurant group that will employ someone even if they can only fulfil one shift a week, there are shockers, such as the hotel employee who receives her weekly rota only on the day before it goes live. This is simply unacceptable. People must have control over their own lives. Employers should know that the world is irreversibly changed, and for the better. Work-life balance is no longer a ‘benefit’; it’s a fundamental human right, one that is now more important than role prestige and pay.
Keeping informed through technology is a game changer when it comes to meeting the challenges brought about by the changes that will be happening daily across your workforce and ensuring that the messages around your purpose and values remain authentic. On-going data capture is vital to evolving your people promise and predicting key indicators such as risk of leaving (which our own Talent Toolbox has always done), what people value at work, and so on.
It may seem as though there’s a lot to do, though business can no longer ‘hope this stuff will work itself out’. Make a plan and tackle it in small, manageable chunks. Keep things simple. Get informed. Make smarter decisions faster. For help and advice, contact us here.