This is the thing employees want most from their employers

By MaryLee Sachs

For the modern workforce, relationships, environment, and structure are no less important than the work itself. Increasingly, employees are more interested in a clear alignment and understanding of a company’s culture and values than they are in benefits like flexible working, training, access to tech, and even bigger paychecks

The onset of COVID-19 draws this into even sharper relief. As the pandemic forces both businesses and employees to make unexpected adjustments to survive, the need for a deeper, more qualitative and resilient relationship between companies and their workforce seems more salient than ever.

It’s likely that experiential considerations will only get more important with employers recalibrating to make staff feel comfortable, safe, secure, and supported as we all prepare to emerge into a dramatically changed post-pandemic environment. 

Emotional intelligence

Here’s what we know: modern employees want to feel they work for an organization that isn’t just about making money–instead, they want to invest their talents in a company that has its eye on the longer term. They expect to contribute to something more than the product of their own work, and they want to feel connected to the organization they work for in a broader sense than ever before. 

Leadership at many organizations is starting to take note of this shift, too: 98% of CEOs we surveyed as part of our annual CEO Purpose Report agreed that the new generation of talent have expectations that challenge previously established norms of employee experience. 

According to further data, what CEOs think a new generation of talent wants (practical perks like flexible hours) deviates from what Glassdoor reported millennials are actually most concerned with (the wider sense of connection and purpose that underpins employee experience and engagement). It’s also becoming increasingly clear that millennial and Gen Z employees want a work experience that’s not only emotionally intelligent on an interpersonal level, but one that prioritizes ethical and sustainable practices in the big picture. 

And the truth is, it’s not just the youngest talent that’s looking for this emotional quotient from their employers anymore. Even pre-COVID, stats on millennial expectations at work were actually generally in line with multigenerational data in LinkedIn‘s Global Talent Trends report. So it’s safe to say that no matter what era your employees hail from, they’re all adjusting their expectations to the world around them–from the pandemic to the climate crisis to social justice issues–and companies need to meet them where they are.

On the pulse

To offer those more emotional benefits the new workforce is seeking, leadership has to keep its finger on the pulse and give employees a voice through regular engagement across the company. 

Not only can being more in touch with the goings on at every level of the employee experience increase talent attraction and retention, but it can also help leadership see multidisciplinary growth potential when it comes to internal recruitment and overall strategy. And in the work-from-home world, awareness and engagement between staff and leadership is probably even more important now than ever to maintain good employee experience.

This commitment to engagement doesn’t just function as a good internal tool, but is actually an invaluable asset to brands that want to move forward with purpose and achieve greater value externally. When I’m advising businesses on purpose, my team uses anonymous feedback from a company’s full staff to pinpoint areas for growth. This isn’t just effective when it comes to experience, but when it comes to bolstering the brand’s outward trajectory, too.

The perks of purpose

But before a business can get into the nitty-gritty of analytics and engagement initiatives, they need to ensure that their emphasis on employee experience links to a larger purpose–after all, that’s what we’ve established employees are really looking for. 

Our research found that companies that develop and deploy a clear purpose across their organization are more likely to give new talent something to invest in, as well as put  commitment to employee experience into action.

And it’s not just employees who benefit from a sense of purpose–we’ve seen that CEOs who use purpose across their organization are more likely to see very practical perks when it comes to growth and long-term value creation.

Ultimately, a business’s commitment to employee experience isn’t just about ethics and trends, it’s about constantly aligning with the business’s overall purpose, and giving your staff, and the future of your business, the benefits of that work.


MaryLee Sachs is the U.S. CEO of Brandpie, a brand consultancy.

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