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Is a Salary Enough?

What incentives are employees and candidates looking for in today’s world of work?

As the recovery from the pandemic continues, attracting and retaining talent remains a key focus for many organizations. But with the power balance between employers and current/future employees shifting, business leaders are having to identify incentives to help secure the talent needed for future success.

In recent news, Goldman Sachs revealed they would be raising the salaries of their junior bankers to combat complaints around working hours – seemingly hoping that a financial incentive will ensure employee satisfaction. Similarly, a recent survey found that some employers have been offering signing-on fees of up to $10,000 to tempt job applicants – again, hoping that a monetary benefit would be enough to help them attract the best employees.

But are salary increases and bonuses the best incentive for today’s workforce? CIPD research suggests otherwise. A recent survey of more than 2,000 employers found that just 23% are considering raising wages to address the talent shortage, while 44% said they will instead focus on developing the skills of their workforce. And so it appears that many employers are now acknowledging the value of ongoing learning and development as a means of tackling the skills shortage: in retaining existing skills and attracting new talent.

So how else can employers incentivise their people?

Trust & flexibility – Flexible working has become commonplace in today’s world of work. So much so that 85% of professionals now say they expect flexibility from employers, with 78% saying they wouldn’t accept a new job until flexibility is agreed with the prospective employer. Offering flexible working practices can help to demonstrate senior leadership’s trust and a willingness to align with workforce expectations – helping employees connect with the workplace culture and remain engaged and motivated in their roles.

Culture – Having a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture is another way to incentivise talent. Job seekers and employees want to know that an employer is doing everything they can to combat the social injustices still faced by many in the workplace today. By creating a culture of inclusion through unbiased hiring practices, ongoing education and equal opportunity for learning and development, businesses can establish themselves as an inclusive – and thus attractive – employer.

Wellbeing – A recent study found that 74% of employees are now concerned about their wellbeing as a result of the pandemic – a trend that employers are beginning to acknowledge and respond to. Half of manufacturers have reported increased investment in employee health and wellbeing, with a third of businesses spending between $20,000 and $60,000 on supporting their workforce. Research showed that this investment generated increased productivity, a reduction in absenteeism, and an increase in staff retention – illustrating why it makes business sense to look after employees’ physical and mental health.

Career development – For organizations looking for a way to overcome the talent shortage, implementing a comprehensive Workforce Career Management strategy encompassing career coaching, and upskilling opportunities could be key. With almost two thirds of employees planning a career change because of the pandemic, and LinkedIn research identifying access to ongoing learning and development as a key driver for staff retention – providing a culture of mobility and growth can help encourage individuals considering a career change to join your organization, while ensuring existing employees remain satisfied in their roles/situation.

Professional development – While some individuals want access to adjacent or more senior roles within the company, others may simply want to develop in their current role. To do so, it’s important for employees to have access to learning and development tools, as well as the option to discuss their plans with their line manager. An open dialogue around career goals enables employees to understand their strengths, identify development areas that they can bridge to become more effective in their role, and explore practical solutions in overcoming workplace obstacles. Providing access to professional development support ensures employees are continuously challenged within their role, and remain engaged with their work.

By offering a robust package that encompasses most, if not all of these incentives, businesses can position themselves as an employer of choice that looks beyond financial incentives to offer a truly appealing employee value proposition.