Looking back over the last 2-plus years, much has changed in the vast majority of workplaces across the globe. This doesn’t just stop at in-person versus virtual meetings but extends to a total shift in what employees are expecting from their employers, both current and prospective. The reality is that more of us are prioritizing work/life balance, a strong benefits package that includes more paid leave, and workplace flexibility. In fact, LinkedIn’s recent 2022 Global Talent Trends found that professionals listed work/life balance (63%), compensation and culture (60%), and colleagues and culture (40%) as their top priorities when picking a new job.
For some companies, making changes to suit these new expectations may seem daunting. However, many businesses have been able to shift and adapt to accommodate the changing needs of their teams. By focusing on three key areas, company and HR leaders can support talent retention in a tumultuous time for hiring and attracting new recruits as we head into a post-pandemic era of working.
New Benefits Are Making an Impact
A good starting point when reviewing company policies and programs is benefit packages, specifically leave policies. Coming out of the last 2 years, workers are increasingly placing greater emphasis on work/life balance. For many, this comes down to more paid leave, mainly paid time off. This includes sick leave and carer’s leave, which, in the face of COVID-19, remains important for many.
There are also new kinds of leave that many companies are offering, including pregnancy loss leave, “me” days, and compassionate leave. At Wise, we recently introduced an increased global leave policy that includes many of these options, and it was very well received by the team and especially new recruits. Another benefit making waves is a sabbatical, whereby employees are rewarded for their commitment to the company with an additional paid leave. This is typically an opportunity for employees to take time to reflect on their career, rest and rejuvenate, and come back with new perspectives and ideas. While this program does vary by company, it often comes with parameters involving years of service and sometimes, as is the case with Wise, an additional stipend. Altogether, by updating leave policies—and adding in new benefits—HR leaders can deliver more of what their teams are now seeking.
Flexibility Is Key to Talent Retention and Recruitment
In addition to considering new leave and benefits, HR leaders should ensure their organizations are fostering flexibility within the workplace. The LinkedIn research also found that when employees are satisfied with their companies’ time and location flexibility, they are 2.6 times more likely to report being happy.
Hybrid work has become a staple of many companies, as it allows for flexibility while keeping in-person elements that many enjoy. To keep teams engaged, it’s worthwhile to set times and days that everyone can work in-office together, helping build comradery while retaining the option to be at home.
In that vein, if it’s possible to offer remote work, whether within the company or more generally, this is also becoming increasingly popular, especially as folks head back into the office more frequently. Providing options to work from other offices, either worldwide or within the country, as well as the freedom to visit family or be remote in a new destination, is a benefit from the COVID era that many continue to enjoy. Retaining this will help keep employees engaged and let new recruits know they can work from wherever they need or want to be.
Keeping Up with Ever-Changing Employee Needs
As part of this increased focus on flexibility, companies should ensure they are continuously collecting and listening to team feedback. This is becoming increasingly common, as Randstad Sourceright’s 2022 Talent Trends Report found that 56% of businesses say they are investing in employee feedback and engagement systems this year.
Feedback can be collected in various ways, such as at town halls and monthly meetings, more formally through engagement surveys, or through open channels in communications tools like Slack. HR leaders also may want to set up working groups within the company who can collect and share feedback from teams. Stay interviews are another way to check in with team members and create another option for two-way communication. It’s also important to make changes to policies and programs with regularity and transparency. Consider setting up annual reviews with teams across the company, starting with HR but also including folks outside of operations.
Ultimately, the needs of employees in today’s workplaces have changed due to COVID-19 and will continue to change as we navigate the pandemic. By starting with updating benefits and leave policies, understanding workplace flexibility options, and continually reviewing what’s in place to support employees, companies will find themselves in a better position to support and uplift their teams, reaping the benefits of increased retention and recruitment along the way.
Candace Smith is the People Operations Lead for the Americas at Wise, where she leads a regional team that includes members in the United States and Brazil. In her role, she leads all people operations and advisor transactions throughout the Wiser journey and works to ensure all people-related processes and services are implemented and administered effectively, efficiently, and consistently.