Employees Needs Are Changing In The Workplace — Are You Ready?

More and more managers are questioning why it seems the labor force is so different than it used to be. While some want to blame generational shifts in thinking, the reality is actually far more a product of our current economy. Here’s why employees in today’s workplace are more demanding in what they really want in a job.

To start, workers can afford to be much more selective in where they choose to work. As of August 2021, there are 10.1 million open jobs and only 8.7 million people on unemployment in the United States. With more jobs than people, there is little risk with choosing to look elsewhere for a job if workers don’t feel valued or see a future with a company. Quite simply, the days of workers gratefully working for a paycheck to meet their needs are long gone when competition for employees is so dire.

Employees are seeking more money because it has become increasingly expensive to live. Since 2015, there has been a cumulative price increase of over 15% in consumer goods, and it’s on the rise. And a livable wage, that is the wage required to cover all basic necessities like housing, food, healthcare, and other essentials, is often two to three times the minimum wage in a given county depending on the number of dependents supported. If employees are supposed to be grateful for a paycheck, then that paycheck needs to be enough to provide for them to live comfortably.

But paying enough money for employees to afford to live is not a competitive advantage. Whereas previous generations found meaning in their communities and families, today’s workforce is seeking purpose in their jobs. They want to feel like they are contributing positively and making a difference through the work they do everyday. And yet, only 34% of employees have heard a story about how their company impacted a customer to improve their business or life.

Personal Story

When I used to hire hundreds of seasonal workers to shovel snow in New England, I found success not by offering more pay or benefits than competitors but by inspiring my people with purpose. We shoveled snow at utility providers to ensure that our entire community had heat and electricity despite the worst winters on record. We cleared supermarkets and pharmacies so that the people in our communities could get the groceries and medication they needed to survive. We knew that successfully doing our job meant saving lives and enabling society to function no matter what mother nature had in store.

Putting Employees First

In addition, we focus on growth and development opportunities because it’s currently the number one factor when choosing a job for employees today. The best recruiters were those who had risen through the ranks of the company themselves. Their story became an inspiration for employees who wanted to achieve their own dreams. Whatever their purpose – buying a home, having a family they could provide for, finding respect of their colleagues, or achieving mastery of their craft – they could achieve through the opportunities provided.

Yet the most critical desires of workers today is a manager who makes them feel valued. More than just a seat on the bus, employees want to have their ideas heard and considered. The best companies organize opportunities for employees to voice opinions and then honestly consider, refine, and utilize them. It should be no surprise that at least 70% of a worker’s engagement is directly based on their manager.

Apply It To Your Workplace

If you’re trying to hire and retain staff, it’s time to consider having more conversations with your employees about why the company exists, how they can play a role in success, what their future could look like, and how it can be achieved as a team. I prefer to have weekly coaching conversations with the people I manage and set formal goals with them quarterly. It’s a collaborative and time-consuming process, but it’s also the top reason people want to and continue to work for me. In fact, my employees often tell me that our coaching conversations are their favorite part of the job. And I know you can do it too.

Neal Glatt is a Managing Partner of GrowTheBench.com. As a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and John Maxwell Certified Coach, Speaker, and Trainer, he regularly helps companies and managers find success and fulfillment in their workplace and lives. You can learn more about Neal at www.NealGlatt.com.

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