What Are the Top Motivational Drivers for Talent?

After a long and stressful year filled with lots of uncertainty and soul searching, job seekers today have a much clearer picture of what they’re looking for in a job, and they’re not willing to settle anymore. 

In the “Before Times,” employers could have skated by with surface-level culture and employer branding tactics to attract top talent, but this approach won’t fly in a post-COVID job market. If you’re not able to meet your candidates’ needs, they will go elsewhere. Plus, in this new hybrid world of work, your best candidates have more options available to them. They’re not limited to their local job market (or even traditional employment) – the world’s their oyster. 

So, what are jobseekers’ priorities right now, and how should employers respond? In this post, we’ll give you a deep dive into the top motivators for talent that we’re seeing right now. We’ll also offer some helpful tips on how you can demonstrate these attributes to potential talent and live out these qualities in your day-to-day work life. 

1. Brand reputation and a positive work environment/culture

In a recent client study, we saw factors such as brand reputation and a positive work environment/culture rank higher than previous studies. With everything that’s happened in the past year – a global pandemic, civil unrest, climate-related disasters – people want to be part of organizations they can trust. They want to work for employers that will be good for them and the world at large.

And the statistics don’t lie: 

Purposeful work is also a huge factor in your employees’ perception of your company’s work environment and culture. Competitive salaries and benefits packages are great, but more than anything, your candidates want to work for a company that shares their values, treats them fairly, and makes them feel like they belong.

2. Autonomy and trust

In a new Harvard Business Review study, 59% of knowledge workers reported that “flexibility” is more important to them than salary or other benefits. More than three-quarters (77%) said they would prefer to work for a company that gives them the flexibility to work from anywhere rather than fancy corporate headquarters.

However, their research also showed that the flexibility so many workers desire is conditional upon autonomy. For example, 61% of employees reported that they would prefer if management allowed them to come into the office or work from home whenever they needed to. In other words, people don’t just want flexibility – they want to exercise it in a way that best fits them.

For employers, this could look like shifting away from policies to principles. For example, rather than mandating that your employees come into the office at least three days a week, give them the power to decide what works best for them. 

CEO Dan Price took this approach with his company, Gravity Payments: “Instead of making a top-down decision as a CEO, I asked our staff how they want to work. Just 7% wanted to go back to the office full time, while 31% wanted an office-remote hybrid and the remaining 62% wanted to work from home all the time. So I told them: sounds great. Do whatever you want.” 

Of course, plenty of businesses need to operate in person and specific roles that require face-to-face interactions. Still, as Price states, “people who have shown over the last year that they can do their job just as well or better at home deserve to choose how they want to work.” He also says that making more job openings remote-eligible has led to a significant increase in job applications at his company.

3. Work-life balance and human connection

Not surprisingly, we’re seeing work-life balance and human connection as top attributes that talent want when seeking an employer. We also see non-inclusive environments as a reason top talent would leave.

What does this mean for employers? Well, it’s important to note that increased flexibility doesn’t always lead to better work-life balance. Remote workers often experience high work intensity and reduced autonomy because of the pressure to be ‘always on’ and available. The constant connectivity can also blur the boundaries between work and non-work activities. 

Creating a healthy work-life balance for your team starts from the top. It’s up to your leaders and managers to act as positive role models. They need to lead by example by prioritizing their health and wellness, educating their teams on the importance of healthy work-life balance, and connecting them to the necessary resources and supports. 

When it comes to human connection and fostering an inclusive environment, employers today need to rethink what togetherness and belonging looks like in a hybrid context. You need to go beyond the obvious tactics like team socials and happy hours and ask yourself (and your team) what makes them feel connected and included right now. 

4. Authenticity

Authenticity came in above personal growth and corporate social responsibility, as a top job seeker motivator, and like work-life balance – authenticity at work starts with authentic leaders. When your employees see their managers being genuine, it not only builds trust but also permits them to show up more authentically. 

Authenticity is also a significant enabler of belonging and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Your marginalized employees are tired of feeling ‘othered’ in the workplace and want to know that they can make real connections with their colleagues. When your employees can embrace their culture and identity in the workplace, it helps them feel like they belong. 

The world of work is changing and becoming less ‘corporate’ and more human, but we often see a gap between what companies project and what their talent wants. For example, your talent doesn’t want to see a bland careers page filled with stock photos or a cookie-cutter DEI statement. They want to see what you’re actually doing to support your staff’s needs. 

When it comes to attracting top talent, employers need to adapt or be left behind

It’s human nature to promise that we’ll change tomorrow or next month. We tell ourselves that we’ll start that exercise routine or drink more water, but then tomorrow comes, and nothing happens. 

Unfortunately, we see too many employers approach Employer Branding the same way. And in a candidate-driven market, you can’t afford to procrastinate. Job seekers aren’t going to wait around for you to get things right. So if you know that your organization is slacking on the above factors, it’s time to act.

But you don’t have to go at it alone. Here at Blu Ivy Group, we work closely with our clients to help them build an irresistible Employer Brand from the inside out, so they can attract and retain top talent and stay competitive in the job market – and we’d be happy to support your talent attraction goals too. 

About Us 

Blu Ivy Group is a global leader in employer branding, organizational culture, and recruitment marketing. We help organizations across the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors build extraordinary employee experiences, magnetic employer brands, and high-performance cultures.    

From C-Suite to Employer Brand and Talent Acquisition leadership, we partner with our clients to transform their organizations and design the most compelling workplaces of the future. 

For inquiries, please contact sparker@bluivygroup.com. 

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