Globally, across all industries, companies are finding it harder to retain employees. A side effect of the pandemic has been that people’s values and priorities have shifted. For many it resulted in the realisation that the job they were working themselves to the bone for, was really not worth it. Family and friendship was more important, health was more important. And while money is certainly essential to modern life, it simply can’t buy either of those. Besides there are thousands of different ways to earn a living.

While this awareness and shift in priorities has not been a bad thing, companies have been challenged. In the construction and infrastructure sectors where a skills shortage already existed, the consistent number of resignations has been yet another hurdle to navigate. It’s made HR departments realise that if they want to stop hemorrhaging talent, company culture and policies need to take into consideration what employees are looking for and realign with their values.

What do employees want in 2022?

While none of these are new concepts or big asks, they do mostly go against traditional corporate policies common in large organizations. Employees are no longer happy to just fit in for the sake of job security and they’re expecting companies to come to the party and value what they contribute or they’ll find somewhere else that does.

Meaningful connections: This involves getting to know employees better, and more importantly what’s important to them. At the same time companies should be cautious of stereotyping. People want to be valued for who they are, not just what they are. For example a female senior manager may also be a working mum, that doesn’t mean she’s any less invested in her work, even if she requires the flexibility to occasionally manage family responsibilities.

Sense of purpose: Emerging from the pandemic, many have had the realisation that they want to contribute something meaningful to the world. They want the work that they spend most of their days and weeks doing to matter. Companies can support this by acknowledging the efforts of employees and listening to when they have ideas to change things to have a more positive impact for the environment or society.

Understanding: Companies that actively listen to their employees and make changes that allow them greater flexibility, autonomy or responsibility demonstrate that they understand and value them. This needs to go beyond talk to finding ways to actively support employees to do their job better.