What Workers Really Want: A Glimpse of the Perfect Job

141914450According to Spherion’s latest Emerging Workforce Study, 64 percent of employers say that finding and recruiting qualified, skilled workers is a top HR concern; yet less than one-third of these employers are concerned about turnover and retention. Although many employers may be more focused on acquiring new talent now that the economy is improving, they should be careful to focus equal if not more of their time on retaining their current valued employees. Our research finds that 29 percent of workers intend to look for a job in the next 12 months, and no employer wants to lose high performing talent. Keeping workers engaged and satisfied are key elements to retaining them, and it’s essential that companies understand the needs and expectations of workers and can translate this understanding into tailored retention strategies before it’s too late.

So why would workers want out? Simply put, they’re dissatisfied for various reasons. Our study uncovered that one in four workers rates their job satisfaction as fair or poor. Nearly one-third of workers (29 percent) have a clear understanding of the growth opportunities that exist at their current organization. And only 28 percent of workers are satisfied with their current growth and earnings potential at their organization. Because many workers see their job as more than just a way to earn a living (76 percent), employers have the opportunity to increase loyalty and commitment if they communicate their employees’ value and a path for growth in their current roles.Understanding employees’ attitudes, expectations and needs is the first step to driving up satisfaction and ultimately, retention.

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Regardless of whether they’re traditional employees or conditional staffers, around 70 percent of workers rate their growth potential outside of their current employment from good to excellent. So, it’s paramount that companies consider the needs of workers and how to address them. Our EWS study discovered a few key needs that workers want in a perfect job. Companies should consider the following best practices to ensure that they are attractive employers to workers, both current and future.

Allow Workers to Think Creatively. From our study, 93 percent of workers today prefer a job that allows them to think creatively. Furthermore, 89 percent of workers want a job that allows them to think of new and better ways to do things. Companies need to create a culture of openness and creativity. One way employers can tap into workers’ creativity is to develop an avenue for soliciting suggestions and feedback from employees on ways to improve work processes in the office. Along with this, employers should implement a process for formally recognizing and considering the suggestions, and crediting the employees when suggestions are implemented. This way, workers know that their ideas are welcomed, valued and respected.

Offer Work/Life Balance Programs. Eighty-seven percent of workers say that work/life balance is a top career priority, and most workers (93 percent) believe that the most attractive employers are those who help employees meet their family obligations through work/life balance programs. Offering job flexibility is important to the average American who juggles work, family obligations and other life commitments. Today, more and more companies are recognizing the importance of work/life balance programs in recruiting and retaining workers. Initiatives like flex time, telecommuting and sabbaticals are good options for many employers and their workers. These initiatives demonstrate that employers care about their workers and their well-being outside of the office.

Make Social Media Sites Accessible. As our world becomes more connected through human and virtual interactions, companies need to be aware of employees’ growing desire to be connected in the digital space while at work. Thirty percent of workers feel that whether or not a company allows its workers to use social media during work factors greatly into their job satisfaction. And, workers feel like having access to social media sites and tools allows them to be more productive at work (39 percent). Depending on the workplace, employers should consider the views of workers when planning their social media policies. Coming up with a solution that satisfies both employer and employee needs can lead to a happier workplace. And that’s a win-win-win for the employer, the employee and the bottom line.

MORE: What every C-level exec should know about talent acquisition

Sandy Mazur

Sandy Mazur
Sandy Mazur is division president of license and franchise, Spherion Corp. She is responsible for the strategic leadership and support of an extensive base of Spherion franchise and license offices, as well as expansion into new U.S. markets.

Sandy Mazur

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