The Job Seeker Sweet Spot: What does it take to attract and engage top talent?

If there’s one thing job seekers have in today’s labour market, it’s options. As a result, companies are getting creative in order to attract, retain and engage talent. To do this, they’re putting a greater emphasis on establishing a positive employee experience.

A company’s employee experience refers to the way in which employees feel and think about a company throughout the entire employee lifecycle – from their first day at work all the way up to their last. 

A positive employee experience is imperative; it elevates your employer brand and drives your employee engagement, where workers are passionate about their job, are willing to put in extra effort and are committed to their organization, its values and success. According to a Globoforce study, employees who work at companies ranking in the top 25% highest Employee Experience Index are likely to perform at higher levels and are less likely to quit. 

We wanted to get a better sense of the variables that contribute to an engaged workforce; what is the perfect blend of policies and initiatives that help attract job seekers and turn them into engaged employees? We surveyed over 2,000 employees in Canada to find out. Let’s take a look at the data. 

What employer initiatives and activities are front of the line for employees? 

Contrary to popular belief, our survey shows that many employees are, in fact, engaged at their place of employment. Three fourths of respondents (77%) say they’re engaged in their current role. So, what are some of the efforts their companies are making to ensure they remain this way?  

In terms of activities, policies and initiatives their company offers, over a quarter (26%) of engaged respondents say their company has established flexible work policies. As workers continue to thrive for better work-life balance, it’s no surprise that 40% of all respondents say that this perk would be most important to them. Following flexible work, over a quarter (25%) of respondents say their employers offer employee perks such as discounts and memberships. 

While flex work, ping pong tables and free snacks are often hailed as the ideal employee perks, the survey showed that employee assisted programs, employer-sponsored programs that help people deal with personal issues, are also important. Just under a quarter (22%) of respondents say that their company offered mental wellbeing initiatives such as an employee help hotline. Nearly seven in 10 (68%) of respondents say that mental wellbeing initiatives would be important to them. Considering that 42% of respondents say that their job has at one point negatively impact their mental health due to such things as workload (47%) and long hours (32%), having programs in place to help employees cope is crucial. 

In addition to initiatives that support employees’ mental health, respondents claim that programs supporting their physical and financial wellbeing are also important to them. Three in five  (62%) say financial wellbeing initiatives (personal finance workshops) are important, while 58% say that physical wellbeing would be important to them as well. Investing in workplace wellness not only shows your employees you care but is ultimately good for business too: having these programs in place increases productivity, reduces stress, and improves employee engagement and communication.

Additionally, a little recognition goes a long way. While 81% of respondents say it would be important for them to feel supported and recognized at the company they work for, only 25% of them say their company offers an employee recognition program. Moreover, 26% say their manager rarely – or never – fairly recognizes them for the work they do, and 46% say their managers only sometimes give them recognition. 

To many, meaning matters more than money

Of course, it takes more than a suite of company perks to keep employees engaged. Gone are the days where employees simply clocked in and out, merely working for a paycheque. For many of them, meaning matters – a lot. Employees want a role that is meaningful and fulfilling, where they feel an authentic connection with the work they’re doing and their company.

For the respondents who reported feeling disengaged at work, when asked what would help them feel more engaged, almost half (46%) say more money would solve the problem. However, when cross referencing this with responses from engaged respondents, interestingly, money wasn’t the most significant factor. Instead, 45% of engaged employees say they are engaged because they were satisfied with their job. Over a third (34%) say they’re engaged because they feel they’re contributing to the business’ purpose and mission, knowing exactly how their role is leading to the success of the business. Only 21% of respondents noted pay as the most important contributor to their engagement. 

Another key facet to workplace satisfaction is professional growth and development, with 67% saying this is important. While 54% feel there is a clear path for development, there is still room for improvement on this front, with a third of respondents (33%) saying there is not a clear path for advancement at their company. Professional development is key to retention. For those who have voluntarily left a previous company, 26% did so because they didn’t believe they could grow within the organization.

Tips for increasing employee engagement: 

    1. Create a culture of continuous feedback: While many respondents say they receive ongoing feedback from their manager, 39% say they never receive peer reviews to get feedback on their work. Giving employees a forum to offer constructive feedback – and recognition – to their peers will allow them to better work together, and give you a better idea of what they’re doing well and where there’s room for improvement. 
    2. Recognize work well done: Recognition surfaced as a key contributor to engagement. Whether it be quarterly team lunches to celebrate the team’s good work, or a company-wide awards program based on peer nominations, formalizing a process to give kudos to employees will help boost morale. 
    3. Enable work-life balance via greater flexibility: Many companies offer flex work on an ad-hoc basis, but creating a formal remote-work policy is helpful to establishing parameters. For example, outlining any restriction and the process for requesting and approving working from home, will eliminate a lot of confusion and frustration. 
    4. Reiterate the company’s purpose: Employees want to feel they’re making an impact and contributing to their company’s purpose. That said, it’s imperative that the company’s leadership team defines and communicates the vision of the company clearly and reinstate how their role feeds into the greater purpose. 

Methodology

The survey was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Indeed among 2,035 job seekers in Canada, between December 19th and December 23rd, 2019. The confidence interval (margin of error) is +/- 2.2%, 19 times out of 20. Sample is representative based on natural fall out from screeners of a nationally representative mail out.

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