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It’s no secret that UK firms across multiple sectors are struggling to find the right candidates. There are many reasons for this, including long-term skills shortages, but something that firms can do to stand out from their hiring competition is understand what motivates candidates and make sure their recruitment messages communicate what candidates want to know. What was important to employees previously is less so to many now. Our recent (November 2021) Monster Survey found that support and care for employees is the number one criterion for choosing and remaining with an employer in the UK, and we believe that the pandemic is at least partly responsible for this focus.

Our study shows a positive and caring working environment is more important to candidates than higher pay to UK jobseekers. Quality applicants are discerning, assessing each company according to six core values. Businesses that can show they care and provide a stimulating environment have a competitive advantage in the battle for top talent. Those who fail to act, or communicate effectively, are at risk.

The pandemic has changed priorities and fundamentally altered our relationship to work, according to the Monster survey. A healthy pay packet may have been the priority in the past, but today, organizational values are now most important to employees of any age. An incredible 60% of employees want to know what a business stands for before applying for a role.

The accelerating economic recovery has intensified recruitment urgency, and employers must act. Our research suggests that what you say to potential candidates, how you say it, and when will significantly impact your success at attracting and retaining talent.

In the post-pandemic world, a larger pay packet isn’t enough. Companies must learn to communicate effectively and authentically, creating a positive employer brand for their business that employees can believe in.

Six core values to attract applicants

Our study ranked the six workplace values that candidates use to judge current and future employers. These are the questions applicants want answers to before they take the first step.

As an employer, ask yourself, are you doing enough?

  1. Care. Is it clear you care for your employees as well as your customers? Do your benefits and workplace culture show that you support your workforce and go above and beyond to make sure you have a healthy and vibrant workplace?
  2. Interest. Do you offer a stimulating, interesting work environment matched with innovative employment policies and procedures? How does what you do add value to society?
  3. Social. Does your employment atmosphere promote teamwork and camaraderie? Do people collaborate on cross-departmental projects? Does the company host social events and family days?
  4. Economic. Economic values are more than just salary. Is your business financially secure? Is your pay competitive? Do your benefits offer value?
  5. Development. Do you invest in upskilling your employees, recognize their achievements, and provide opportunities for career enhancement? Are there clear paths to promotion?
  6. Application. Can candidates use their skills and knowledge to contribute to the company beyond their job description? Are employees encouraged to bring ideas in an open forum? Is innovation rewarded?

These values apply across generations, with care being the most important factor for Gen-Z, Millennials, and Gen-X. Boomers, approaching the end of their careers, are understandably motivated by money, but care comes a close second.

Working environment, employee experience, and employer engagement are critical factors for workers of all generations in deciding whether to apply for a new job – or stay where they are.

Be vocal about values

In a market with over a million open UK vacancies candidates have a wider choice of roles than ever before, it’s too late for employers to leave discussion of essential issues until selection starts. In today’s economy, candidates are in the driving seat.

Applicants want to know the attitude of potential employers to these criteria before they will even consider working for them, but employers are failing. Many aren’t living up to the values and practices employees want to see and are unable (or unwilling) to communicate what they are doing authentically and effectively.

Our study has demonstrated that the problem isn’t necessarily with the business but the employer brand.

Your company’s actions must embody your values, and your employer brand must express them. Monster research has found that 69% of job candidates say they would not take a job with a company with a bad reputation – even if they were unemployed.

Employers must positively promote their culture and values. Communicating with them must become a core part of the recruitment process and a strategic priority. Why? Because job seekers are consumers. Faced with several businesses saying the same thing, they’ll seek our brands with shared values.

The survey results establish that authenticity is key. A strong employer brand needs to be more than virtue signaling. In a world where businesses and brands are increasingly keen to take an active social stance, just 42% of staff felt employers should share a public viewpoint on an issue, with 58% preferring a neutral approach. Polarising topics such as Brexit have caused significant societal friction, and it’s perhaps understandable that employees prefer businesses to remain silent.

Your employer brand can humanize your company. Stripping out the corporate messages and communicating your core values will make the difference.

Putting it into practice

Monsters Chief Human Resources office, Claire Barnes summarizes the key issues, what employers can do, and what steps Monster has taken.

“The Pandemic has, of course, been hugely stressful with much uncertainty for many people. People have had very different work experiences. From frontline workers who worked the whole way through to those furloughed for months at a time. Many being able to work from home and, of course, those who lost jobs due to redundancies or businesses closing. It’s no surprise that people’s experience, how work made them feel, is shaping their attitudes. It is a valid question for candidates to ask of a company “how did you support your employees during the pandemic?”

One of the vital lessons we must learn from the pandemic is that we can’t assume we know our employees’ feelings. Instead, we must recognize a gap between what we, as leaders, believe and what we know.

We’ve faced the same challenges in engaging existing employees and attracting the best talent at Monster. So we’re putting wellbeing at the center of our human resources strategy and approach. In practical terms, we’re offering employees the freedom and flexibility to work how they want. We’ve changed our benefits and policies to support the shift and focused on the importance of self-care for everyone.

We’re a business and brand that lives its values, but we’re always searching for ways to improve what we do and how we do it. In the battle for the best talent, we’ve reviewed, refreshed, and refined our brand to appeal to jobseekers – and we recommend other companies should consider doing the same.

By Rod McMillan, Marketing Manager, Monster UK

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