Build, grow, and develop employee infrastructure that meets employees' evolving needs by asking yourself these questions.
Much has been made of the Great Resignation—everyone from organizational psychologists to economists have theorized about why so many individuals have quit their jobs recently. And there are undoubtedly many factors at play.
The pandemic has uprooted our expectations for our lives and shifted priorities. Widespread financial stress has many employees looking for higher-paying jobs. A general sense of cultural turmoil has many looking for new meaning and stability in their employment—even if that means seeking a new place of work.
But when it comes down to it, all the primary theories about the Great Resignation boil down to one thing: employees expect more from their employers.
Even for employees who have made it through the worst of the pandemic without any significant personal, financial, or health crises, priorities have shifted in a massive way. People are leaving their jobs because their employers can’t or won’t keep up with the rapid cultural shift we are all experiencing. By our research, 28% of workers under the age of 35 are planning to leave their jobs within a year. Employers must understand how their employees’ perspectives and needs have changed.
In the 2022 State of the Worker Report, we found that employees need access to work, access to flexibility and autonomy, and access to belonging in order to be satisfied and successful. Here’s how you can assess your employee infrastructure against these evolving needs.
1. Access to work
Employees need access to work. It sounds basic enough, but what does access to work actually entail? For one thing, it means your hiring processes should be fair, unbiased, and inclusive. Access to work acknowledges that all people, regardless of their background, deserve fulfilling work.
Quality of work also matters. Work should challenge us, give us opportunities to use our strengths and improve on our weaknesses, and let us take risks and grow. The pandemic has awoken in us a desire to see our work have meaning.
In order to stay relevant, employers must evaluate their current policies for efficacy. Here’s a few questions you can ask yourself to see how you stack up:
- Does my recruitment and hiring software remove bias from hiring?
Software is not unbiased. In fact, software has been found to be coded with the same cognitive biases that many hiring managers suffer from.
To remove bias from hiring, you need software that works to intentionally combat systemic bias against marginalized people. Software that proactively fights bias can help hiring managers make more equitable hiring decisions. For example, Checkr’s background check solution helps employers fairly assess candidates and match talent with business needs. Consider whether you need to upgrade to a better software solution to confront bias in the hiring process.
- Can my hiring software be connected via API to other tools for a holistic look at the individual?
API-first solutions are critical to success because they allow you to connect different tools in one place, streamlining the hiring process and in turn, allowing you to track and identify patterns of bias. They are also a good investment in your hiring infrastructure, so that as you build your hiring tech stack, you can easily integrate new tools and solutions.
Streamlining the hiring process with new technology should be a priority when focusing on access to work because for many people, the length of the hiring process itself is a barrier to employment. Per our survey, 20% of workers have removed themselves from a job opportunity because the background check process took too long. Furthermore, 53% of workers would be more likely to join forces with a company that offered a fully mobile background check process.
API-first solutions can speed up the hiring process to give workers faster access to work. Checkr, for example, can help you onboard employees quicker with fast and efficient background checks.
- Am I implementing fair and equitable hiring practices?
Debiased hiring software is a vital tool in making work more accessible and equitable for all. Still, you need human safeguards in place to keep the process honest and transparent. Diversity training that helps hiring managers identify and fight unconscious biases can help; so can ensuring you have a diverse panel of interviewers. Diverse organizations perform better and a feeling of belonging at work can increase productivity and reduce turnover.
Diversity of all kinds improves our lives at work. So why do so many hiring leaders still exclude one of the largest marginalized groups in America from their candidate pool? One in three Americans has a criminal record. Traditional background checks don’t allow candidates the opportunity to explain or contextualize their criminal history, unfairly eliminating from consideration many potentially qualified candidates. A fair hiring process would instead give candidates the opportunity to participate in the interview process before being asked about their conviction history. Employers must also employ a fair adjudication process to accurately assess the candidate's ability to perform on the job.
Moreover, four in five U.S. workers want their employers to hire people with conviction histories. Employees are eager to work for the organizations that prioritize diversity and inclusion and who offer access to work to all. It is paramount you assess your employee infrastructure to meet these evolving expectations. Learn more about fair chance hiring practices here.
2. Access to flexibility and autonomy
The pandemic has accelerated what was previously a gradual shift to remote work. 91% of workers who worked from home at least part of the time during the pandemic are hoping to remain remote.
In some cases, of course, remote work expands the demands on existing employees and blurs the boundary between home and work. But after two years of practice, many people seem to prefer it at least some of the time. Remote work, especially when bosses are flexible about when the work is done, gives employees more freedom to take care of their responsibilities to their families and to themselves.
But flexibility and autonomy do not exclusively refer to whether a person works remotely or in the office. These characteristics are transferable to any job in any industry, and all employees can benefit from a certain level of autonomy at work. Studies show that autonomy correlates with more job satisfaction and a sense of well-being.
More than ever, individuals have opportunities to work in ways that allow them freedom, self-expression, and financial opportunity. Employers need to evaluate their infrastructure to determine if they can keep up with the changing landscape. Some factors to evaluate for include:
- Flexibility in pay
Our research found that today’s workers want more flexibility in pay. They generally don’t understand why two-week pay periods are necessary and would prefer to be paid more frequently. We found this to be true regardless of a person’s income level.
Tools like Everee make daily and weekly pay periods easy for your team to manage. Even if more frequent pay is out of the question for your organization, consider offering employees more transparency about pay. Recognize the 72% of workers who don’t understand why the two-week pay cycle even exists. Could you communicate more clearly about your company’s financial and administrative decisions?
- Scheduling flexibility
As we mentioned, pay flexibility is not the only type of flexibility employees are looking for. Do you offer flexible hours or a hybrid work schedule? These may seem like nice perks to offer, but for many people, these are the difference between keeping a job and quitting it.
Many people have personal and familial responsibilities that make working a rigid schedule challenging or impossible. A third of the people we surveyed said they have missed work due to a financial issue, including 13% who said they struggled to find adequate childcare during work hours.
To support employees, you must pay attention to what they need and address their concerns head-on, even it means making a sacrifice. In fact, some of the most effective change comes from disrupting legacy systems. While it's not simple, supporting employees needs by implementing stronger infrastructure ultimately results in better long-term business outcomes.
3. Access to belonging
Belonging is a difficult-to-define concept that has the power to make or break a company’s culture. Because workplace culture is one of the most fundamentally important factors in employee retention, a toxic culture can and will drive employees to quit. Across many industries, it’s a predictor for high employee turnover.
What does toxic culture have to do with belonging? Toxic culture is diametrically opposed to belonging in the workplace. Toxic culture runs on lies, gossip, bullying, meanness, and petty behavior. A healthy workplace culture is one in which all people feel welcome, one that explicitly prohibits racism and other discriminatory behavior. It’s also one in which belonging and community sentiment is promoted and sustained through an attitude of kindness, openness, and mutual respect.
If a diverse workplace is important to your team, you must follow through on DEI commitments with actions that lift up marginalized people, inside and outside your workplace. We all need kind and empathetic human connection. When employees feel belonging at work, turnover and sick days plummet, and job performance increases by 56%. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to make sure your organization supports belonging:
- How are we supporting diversity?
A verbal commitment to diversity and anti-racism is simply not adequate. Employees expect to see concrete action and implementation of corporate promises on reform. How are companies effectively supporting diversity? Some promote and sponsor Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), or lead a peer mentorship program. Many actively recruit diverse talent by partnering with community organizations, educational institutions, and expanded internship opportunities. It's also important to commit resources to software that helps you set and track progress on diversity-related goals. Hear from DEI and fair chance hiring experts on their predictions for the future.
- Are we listening to employee feedback?
Corporate DEI programs need to meet the needs of the people it’s meant to benefit. Soliciting and course-correcting based on employee feedback has to be a fundamental part of the process. But according to our research, 23% of employees believe their employers don’t listen to their feedback, and 18% of employees were unsure whether their employers listened. That’s nearly half of all workers whose employers are failing to make them feel heard.
Another key element to the success of a feedback programs is transparency. If you do collect and listen to feedback, do you share the results with your employees? Doing so helps employees know that you’re taking their feedback to heart. And don’t keep the transparency to your employees– share the results publicly, too. Sharing data publicly encourages accountability for your company and others.
- Are we promoting fairness and transparency in our hiring process?
Our research found that more than one in four workers (26%) believe that their employers are biased. Those numbers are devastating, and they represent both a failure of policy and a failure of communication. Are you following through on your commitments? If you are, or even if you aren’t, you have a responsibility to keep employees updated on your progress. Part of belonging is a mutual sense of respect and loyalty, and to support belonging, companies need to be transparent about the progress against their goals.
Without a strategy to address these growing concerns, your company could be on the verge of a mass exodus in favor of companies who better embody corporate values and who foster belonging at work.
Understanding what workers need on a fundamental level is critical to building a workplace where employees want to be.
In this time of great change, you can strengthen your workplace culture and retain staff by creating a respectful and transparent working environment for all. Learn to ask for what employees need—then do the work necessary to build the infrastructure that addresses those needs.
Interested to see the full findings of the 2022 State of the Worker Report? Download the report below.