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Saturday, April 20, 2024

What your future employees want most

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By Tim Minahan

The past year has accelerated digital transformation across sectors. Along with a universal recognition that resilient employees are the true lifeblood of a company came an understanding that a company’s work force is crucial to business recovery. This has prompted organizations to completely rethink how they attract, retain and manage their talent.

In order to understand how work and talent management will change going forward, Citrix conducted a yearlong examination of global work patterns, based on the experiences of 2,000 knowledge workers and 500 human resources directors in large, established corporations and midmarket businesses with at least 500 employees based in the United States. When the study was commissioned, both groups of professionals were working under permanent contracts and were or had recently been working from home as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.

Our study pointed to three defining priorities for knowledge workers:

1. Employees overwhelmingly expect flexible options: In order to position themselves to win in the future, companies will need to meet employees where they are. According to our study, 88% of knowledge workers say that when searching for a new position, they will look for one that offers complete flexibility in their hours and location. Also, 83% predict that in response to the global skilled talent shortage, companies will leverage flexible work models to reach out to suitable candidates no matter where they live, even though only 66% of HR directors said they feel the same.

What’s more, 76% of the workers polled believe that employees will be more likely to prioritize lifestyle (family and personal interests) over proximity to work, and will pursue jobs in locations where they can focus on both—even if it means taking a pay cut. Eighty-three percent of employees also think that workers will be more likely to move out of cities and other urban locations if they can work remotely for a majority of the time, creating new work hubs in rural areas.

2. Employees want to re-imagine how productivity is measured: In the future, companies will need to rethink how they measure productivity because traditional metrics—and views that real work can’t get done outside of the office—will no longer suffice. According to our study, today’s employees want to be measured on the value they deliver, not the volume. And they expect to be given the space and trust they need to do their very best work, wherever they happen to be.

Eighty-six percent of employees said they would prefer to work for a company that prioritizes outcomes over output. What does this mean? New employees want to work for a company that cares less about the qualified work output they are able to produce, and more about the impact they can have on the business in a holistic sense. But there is a gap here, with just 69 percent of HR directors saying that their company currently operates in this way, and only half of HR directors saying that their organization would be more productive as a whole if employees felt that their employers and senior management teams trusted them to get the job done without monitoring their progress. Forward-thinking companies will focus on closing this gap and will design people-centric experiences that give employees the space they need to unlock their full potential and deliver transformative results.

3. Employees want to work with a diverse team: One thing  managers seem to agree? Employees want to work for a company that prioritizes diversity. Eighty-six percent of employees and 66% of HR directors assert that a diverse workforce will become even more important as roles, skills and company requirements change over time. Honest, accessible metrics around your diversity progress and remaining gaps are critical to ensuring that efforts to build a diverse team are measurable, targeted and impactful.

What should the major takeaways for business leaders be?

See the forest through the trees: Without the restriction of location, business leaders must look at their recruiting through a broader lens to attract employees who can boost an organization’s creativity and productivity. They might, for instance, dip into untapped pools of talent such as the “home force,” bringing back parents who’ve put their careers on hold to care for children or people who left jobs to tend to aging relatives. It could mean looking to baby boomers who’ve retired, but who still want to work a few hours per week. Companies could also enlist more part-time, contract and gig workers—who make up a larger percentage of the workforce than ever—to take on more hours.

Prioritize learning and development: New business models that developed during the pandemic, as well as changes in customer preferences and needs, have given rise to new roles and opportunities for companies and their employees to grow. Upskilling and reskilling will be critical factors in capitalizing on these transformational forces.

As our study found, 82 percent of employees and 62 percent of HR directors believe that workers will need to hone their current skills or acquire new ones at least once a year in order to maintain a competitive advantage in a global job market. HR directors believe that ensuring an organization has the latest collaborative technology in place to enable agile learning is the most important factor in recruiting and retaining the best talent, and 88% of employees confirm this notion, saying that they look for this when searching for a new position.

It bears repeating: Organizations will need to prioritize reskilling and upskilling to attract and retain the talent they need to make their businesses grow. Those that do will not only boost the motivation of their existing workers, but will gain the attention of the brightest new recruits and make companies better equipped to face the future.

The last year has forever changed the way employees view and approach work, but one thing holds true: Businesses that want to attract and retain the talent they need to move forward must understand the top priorities of their future workforce. They must embrace new, flexible work models and allow employees to design their own careers. In doing so, they will not only boost motivation and engagement; they will also gain the attention of the brightest new recruits and take their business to new heights.

Tim Minahan is an executive vice president of business strategy at Citrix.

Image courtesy of WWW.FREEPIK.COM

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