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What's most important to new employees now

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Many employees’ expectations have changed since the pandemic started. So if you’re looking to fill your team with engaged, productive candidates it’s important to know what counts to them in a post-lockdown world. Let’s take a look at three things identified as most important to new employees now as we start to emerge from this time of national upheaval.

1: Employees are looking for flexibility: home or hybrid as the norm

Not every business or sector could switch to home working at the start of the pandemic. But for those that did, it’s been a big success for many employers - and a good chunk of their people.

Research of UK office workers by CIPD/Microsoft found that 56% of people surveyed feel happier when they work from home. And most employees want to continue working remotely, either fully remote or ‘hybrid’ with at least part of the week at home. So it’s not surprising that top keyword searches on most job platforms have been ‘work from home’, and flexibility is now high on the employee wishlist.

Hybrid working will bring new expectations on employers, and candidates will want to see the right culture and policies in place. Just as important as having the right tech support are the policies to support the different challenges remote working brings to wellbeing, including health and safety and home desk assessments.

Our message? Your role and company overall will seem more attractive to top candidates if you’re seen to empower employees to work where they choose - even if that’s just a few days a week.

2: Training for the new workplace is now more important than ever

Most employees understood that a sudden shift to remote working during the first lockdown meant some things had to be put on hold, or scaled back - including some aspects of training and development. But now employees are yearning for the focus to go back to personal and professional growth, so skill building is crucial.

For people working remotely for the foreseeable future, it’s particularly key to balance out the lack of on-the-spot learning opportunities they miss out on because they’re not working next to colleagues in a workplace. So, whether it’s to hone skills online, learn from colleagues or gain certification, learning opportunities are high up there on the wish list.

Many courses launched before the pandemic now need updating and new skills have emerged since the start of the pandemic that are crucial. That means polishing remote working collaboration skills even further, and upskilling staff in the tools they need to achieve success in a rapidly changing workplace.

3: Focus on mental wellbeing for employees

Many employees have seen a decline in mental health through the pandemic. From uncertainty over the future of work or living conditions, to feeling isolated alone at home or overwhelmed by caring responsibilities and the pressure to be ‘always on’… the short-term mental health impact is clear.

Long term, too, experts predict rising cases of anxiety, depression, burnout and even PTSD. And at HR GO we see that being able to give mental health and emotional wellbeing support to employers will be crucial (we talk more about steps organisations can take to focus on staff mental wellbeing, here). This won’t just be to foster a happy, healthy and engaged current workforce. Putting health and wellbeing front and centre in your employer brand will also be an important marker for potential candidates to judge you by, too.

That means recognising how employee wellbeing matters to the organisation. And introducing or expanding workplace benefits that put a focus on mental wellbeing, like access to counsellors or coaches, or online fitness or mindfulness classes that benefit wellbeing.

New employee expectations

Given all this, it may be time to start to redefine some employee priorities - no easy job given the uncertain climate many companies are facing.

But taking on board new employee expectations is about more than including these phrases in your job adverts and job descriptions. It involves taking steps to bake in the values and issues future candidates have started to care more about and adapting your employer brand to reflect the new workplace - one that is set to thrive long after the pandemic is over.

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