Employer’s new role : designing the « Employee-experience »
Labor market’s rules are being constantly challenged since society has started its digital transformation and demographic transition. On one hand, talents become scarcer, more volatile and more demanding from their employer. On the other hand companies need to develop their employer brand to attract and retain these talents while protecting the economic health and durability of their activity. In such a hectic ecosystem, what kind of value proposition can an employer offer to its employees ?
Shaping work experiences in shorter and more demanding phases for both employees and employers
The age of permanent contracts being the main and most attractive formats of work is over. Today’s job market’s speed of change no longer copes with this model. From now on, companies are choosing work and compensation solutions of shorter periods of time to optimize their capacity to quickly adjust production to demand.
In the meantime, according to an EBRI study (Employee Benefit Research Institute), employees tend to leave a company sooner than they use to. This phenomenon is observed both for employees starting their careers and those, more experienced, who decide to value their expertise somewhere else.
This increasing volatility is linked to individuals’ will to grow their career, to develop their professional potential. « In a sense, each individual is
like a job market of itself. » explains Josh Bersin from Bersin by Deloitte in an interview for Talent Economy. In addition, employees are now asking from their employers to be given missions that are more meaningful and rewarding for them.
Individuals’ approach of work changes. With increasing life expectancy, working lives also extend. More than a salary, people look for meaning, stability and a sense of community and identity in the workplace.
This quest is strategic and financially significant. Talents fleeing away or employees staying in the company without being engaged in their work and thus not being productive can cost a lot of money to the company. Nevertheless, it would be useless to wish to go back to the former model of one long career in a single company. It does not align with people’s professional aspirations anymore. Employer’s goal is to include this volatility in its employer branding strategy to be attractive on the long term.
Growing the employer brand on « employees’ experience »
The employer needs to design the optimal work environment and dynamic for the employee. Through cooperation, the employer and the employee set together the best work conditions to meet both the employee’s expectations and the employer’s goals.
The employee needs to be thought of beyond the usual borders. His or her complexity comprehends professional projects, skills but also family status, house location, personal aspirations etc. In a nutshell, all the dimensions contributing to his or her well-being.
Some companies create family packages to support their employees’ in the different stages of their lives (parent paid-leave, child care benefits, caregiver paid-leave…). They can also develop health and wellness programs to encourage sport, art or cultural activities. Sometimes the latter are opportunities for employees to bond with each other outside of the professional context, enhancing cooperation for future projects.
Adapting to the new challenges of professional mobility
Working conditions become more flexible through remote working, work schedule adjustments or even sabbatical leave, thanks to a mutual trust between the employer and the employee. Geography is also a key factor to improve the employee’s well-being. For instance, a study from ADP Research Institue has shown that the commute characteristics between home and work are more significant than we think in motivating employees to leave a company ! Therefore, supporting the professional mobility of the employees substantially strengthens the employer brand. Such efforts can regard logistical – helping accommodation search and transition, accompanying the person through administrative procedures when settling – and social aspects of professional mobility – impact on the family, cultural advice about the new country etc.
Last but not least important key factor to take into account is the employee’s career development. The employer has to strongly engaged in the teams’ training opportunities, career change programs, the matching of employees’ missions with his or her values. This also means that the employee needs to participate more actively in the development of his or her skills and professional project.
The employer aims at a new kind of loyalty
Such approach can seem very challenging for the employers but it benefits them in the short and the long run. First, enhancing the well-being of the employees boosts their productivity and the quality of their work. Even though some employees leave the company a few years later, the product or the service of the company has benefited from their engagement. “Loyalty isn’t just a measure of time, it is measured by how committed a person is to their work, and how engaged they are in achieving the goals of the company,” explains Yih-teen Lee, Associate Professor at IESE Business School of Barcelona in an interview for Talent Economy.
Consequently, the employer has to win its employees’ loyalty differently. In a more holistic vision, the company adopts the « employee experience » approach. Thinking of the employee or the talent as an individual within a professional and personal life course instead of an immediate solution to a temporary need benefits the employer brand of the company.
Let’s give the example of profiles fiercely hunted in the job market : individuals who have graduated from higher education and who already count 3 to 5 years of professional experience. It is not about contacting them in the instant they are needed anymore. The moments when they are still studying, working within the company, leaving the company for new professional experiences are equally important.
Other « touch points » as Employer Branding Academy’s CEO BLABLABLA calls them have to be taken into account, in addition to the moment where the talent is working for you, to build a strong employer brand. Alumni communities, professional or non-profit events, invitations to give lectures as an expert in universities… Your best ambassadors will always be your employees ! It can also happen that talents come back.
« A 2015 report from The Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc. and WorkplaceTrends.com showed 46 percent of millennials would consider returning to their former employer » (The New Employer-Employee Social Contract, Talent Economy)
Eventually, in the long term, considering the employees within their life course is a way for the employer to participate in a new definition of work. The company goes beyond its economic role to undertake a social and human enterprise in which work takes on a new meaning. This vision of employer branding overcomes the borders between private and professional lives. The meaning of work thus becomes the substantial argument for everyone to accept this new « hybrid » version of work.
Evolution of employer-employee social contract :
Evolution of employer branding :
Cartwright, s. & Holmes, N. (2006). The meaning of work: The challenge of regaining employee engagement and reducing cynicism. Human Resource Management Review, 16, 199-208.