By now, you’ve heard that hiring challenges aren’t going away in 2023. The effects of the labor market paradox in 2022, which saw a labor shortage paired with high unemployment rates, will continue to affect the hiring landscape in the new year.
In fact, new data from LinkedIn showed that over half (51%) of all applications were for remote positions, but remote positions only made up 15% of job postings, showing a clear disconnect between job candidates and employers.
To win the talent war, as well as retain talent, the first step should be to align worker preferences with employer needs.
Worker preferences misaligned with employers
The disconnect between employees and employers has always been present but has been exasperated since the pandemic.
“Since the pandemic, employees saw how many roles that were traditionally in-person can be performed effectively in a remote or hybrid environment. They see the advantages of remote work in having a more balanced life, saving time and money on commutes, and even increasing productivity,” says Megan Bloom, Client Executive at leading HR, Health and Wealth Strategic Advisory firm OneDigital. “Employers saw remote work as temporary and many want to return to in-person because it often can cost more to have a distributed workforce if you’re not set up for it.”
As in-office work phases out, and hybrid and remote work becomes permanent for many companies, employers have had to find new ways to connect with employees and keep up with changing needs. “Employers can help bridge the gap between their expectations and their employee’s demands by reevaluating each role and its fitness for hybrid or remote work, along with employee feedback to strategically boost flexibility within their workforce,” says Bloom.
What do workers want?
In 2023, aligning with worker preferences is more important than ever to increase retention rates and keep top talent engaged. There are a few key worker preferences that employers can prioritize, according to Bloom.
Flexibility. When it comes to worker preferences, one size does not fit all, and that applies to work locations, too. A flexible hybrid model, where workers choose which days to come into the office or stay home, increases engagement and performance more than any other model, according to a Gartner study. “When faced with transitioning to a flexible hybrid model, the biggest challenge employers face is middle manager burnout,” says Bloom. “Employers need to train their managers in how to manage employees remotely. A commitment to manager training, along with very intentional employee engagement initiatives, will help support a new culture of work.”
Role reevaluation. Only 15% of job openings on LinkedIn are for remote roles, according to data. However, many roles that do not offer remote work can be done from home. Since many workers want remote work, it may be a good idea for employers to reevaluate whether they really need employees on-site every day. “Instead of thinking, ‘How do we get workers back in the office?’ companies should be focused on how to use remote work to their advantage and train their people to adapt to this new way of working successfully,” suggests Bloom.
Autonomy. Since the pandemic and the rise of remote work, employees have realized that they can do their best work on their own schedule and are craving autonomy. In fact, Gartner’s research found that workers who determined their own hours were more likely to perform at a higher level and less likely to experience burnout. “Employees can develop more autonomy when they have clearly outlined roles and responsibilities,” says Bloom. She suggests creating a performance management process and having employees set annual goals that managers can periodically check in on. “This way, managers can hold employees accountable without having to micromanage their daily tasks, giving the employee the freedom to make decisions about how they do their work,” says Bloom.
How to begin implementing changes
If you want to stay competitive, it’s important to make sure that you’re aligning your company procedures, policies and values with worker preferences.
Consider asking questions about your company to understand your company culture, such as:
- What are you promoting within your organization about employee engagement and feedback?
- What’s important to you, and
- What are your objectives and values?
“Not every job or employer can have 100% autonomy,” says Bloom, “But if you define your mission, vision and values for employees and align those with what employees are asking for, you can establish a level of autonomy that works for your organization.”