Future of work trend #5: Individuality

2022 is the year of the employee. They know what they want, but can you deliver? By tailoring the employee experience to the individual, you can give yourself the best chance to attract and retain the best people in a shallow (or competitive?) talent pool.

There’s no separating the employee experience from business growth. And with the race for talent hotter than ever across the Asia-Pacific region, the balance of power has shifted to workers. The COVID pandemic gave them a chance the reflect on what’s important – and just how many opportunities are out there. According to a recent Korn Ferry survey, 36% of professionals plan to change jobs in the near future because they’ve had the time and clarity to figure out what they want out of their working lives. That mindset and the ‘Big Quit’ we’re seeing across APAC have made optimising employee experiences more important than ever.

But we’re seeing organisations lag in this area. Some are still learning what employee experience is, while others see its importance but haven’t even started to embed it into their framework. We see very few currently able to tailor the employee experience to individuals. This will have to change if companies want to attract, engage and retain talent – a key competitive edge.

Giving the people what they want

The days of higher salaries and extra leave days being blanket solutions to employee satisfaction are over. Employees are demanding more – and they’re demanding it on their own terms. They expect better work/life balance. They expect to work where and how they want – as long as the work gets done. They want a more rewarding in-office experience and clear pathways for learning and professional progression. And they want to feel involved in the future of the organisation.

But not all these boxes are on each employee’s must-have list. To turn ‘the Big Quit’ into ‘the Great Retention’, your organisation needs to not only recognise these changing priorities – but also understand how to go from one-size-fits-all to one-size-fits-one. Individualising the employee experience isn’t the same as personalising it – it requires an organisation to truly listen and understand each person at a deeper level.

For example, global healthcare company Novartis’s “Choice with Responsibility” plan allows workers to determine how, when and where they work. This enables greater performance – and in turn, greater business performance. This new view on the employee experience is something we’ll continue to see across the region in the coming year.

4 ways to boost your employee experience

It’s time to fundamentally challenge your approach to talent management. Here are four ways to do just that:

1. Dive deeper. Put values before demographics. Just because people share an age bracket, gender identification or life experiences doesn’t mean they have the same motivations. Address your talent’s wants by learning what they value. Examples include clear career progression opportunities, collaboration, purpose, and financial reward.

2. Build-in flexibility. The processes and systems you use to build the employee experience need to have some wiggle room. That way you can adapt them to fit different individual needs and values. By cutting back your rigid, outdated company policies, you’re left with a simpler, more pliable process.

3. Enable your leaders. By removing restrictive guardrails and compliance checks, your leaders are empowered to make good decisions in real time. Going back to basics, Leaders need to be more inquisitive, ask questions and get to know the potentially diverse motivations of their people. Training can then also help them learn how to adapt to and manage these diverse motivations.

4. Make everything personal. Individualising the employee experience is an ongoing, evolving effort. Think about how you can improve every employee touchpoint, from the moment they start their application to onboarding, and through to training and learning programs.

Organisations already build strong customer experiences by developing long-lasting relationships, homing in on what customers want and tailoring their product or service to address those wants and needs. In the coming year, we’re going to see companies applying that same mindset internally. A better understanding of employee wants and needs will mean longer-lasting relationships. That improves talent retention – and creates a more sustainable model to address these needs as they continue to evolve.

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About the contributor

Nadhisha Piyasena is a Senior Client Director for Korn Ferry Advisory, Australia. He works with clients to solve people challenges that get in the way of business performance. He focuses on thinking broadly, commercially, and critically to provide evidence-based and practical solutions that add noticeable value to organisations in the areas of leadership development, employee engagement and talent management.

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