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Employee Motivations – What’s Important to You in 2022?

3 Things You Must Start Doing When You Become a Team Leader

The landscape of work has been forever altered by what we've collectively experienced over the last two years, and with it, employee motivations. Many have taken the time to reconsider what is truly important, both at work and at home. Values have changed, and people are making concerted efforts to craft a different experience. Finding employment aligning with your values may feel like a daunting exercise, but the benefits to your mental health can not be overstated.

If you’re like most employees in 2022, you want to work for a company that grants you autonomy – keeping you engaged and motivated. The flexibility to support a positive life-work balance is also shown to be very important, quite often, even more so than compensation. Additionally, you would likely prefer to work for a company with a great culture: one which supports your wellbeing, helps you stave off burnout, and aligns with your values.

All these requests are perfectly reasonable, and fortunately, it is currently an employee’s job market. Employees are continuing to quit in record numbers. Employers are scrambling to fill positions, and workers are no longer settling for positions that don’t meet their personal and professional needs.

Keep reading to learn how you can secure a position that meets all your requirements.

Flexibility on the Job  

Autonomy

Having autonomy at work means you have the freedom to decide when and how you work. This should not suggest there is no oversight from upper management. It simply means when you are told what needs to be done, it is left to you to decide how you will meet the goal.

In some companies, you may be allowed to determine when you choose to work, setting your own schedule. In others, you may be allowed to decide how your work is done based on your education and talent. There are varying degrees of autonomy that could be offered, familiarizing yourself with them will determine how much you think you may need.

Studies have shown employees experiencing more autonomy in their job results in increased job satisfaction, in addition to improved productivity. Autonomy is also responsible for increased motivation and happiness and decreased employee turnover.

With all the positive outcomes that result from autonomy within the organization, both for you and the company, one would think it would be standard practice. But finding a company operating this way can prove challenging, although more companies are considering its importance.

With how important this one aspect of work is, it would behoove you to do your research to ensure the company you’re eyeing trusts their employees to do the jobs they were hired for. Determining the level of autonomy offered by a company during the interview can feel intimidating. Keep in mind, that their response to your inquiry should give you the information you need to make the right decision for you.

 Flexible Hours

You are complex, multi-faceted. You have a lot going on in your personal life; you have a family, you have passion projects, you have a life. You need a work structure that accommodates these responsibilities and any others you determine.

Prior to the pandemic, you were expected to fit your personal life into your off-hours without question, and you did. The pandemic changed everything, including what you believe is important. With a forced reevaluation of life, it should surprise no one that overworking while missing your life ranks poorly.

The pandemic has helped to normalize more flexible work arrangements. It has also brought forward conversations about work structure. During an interview, you can get an idea of flexibility by asking questions about how the organization has shifted its expectations to meet the challenges of the pandemic.

It’s important to note though, that while general conversations about structure are probably to-be-expected, it’s not a great idea to bring up your personal situation right off the bat. If you do have a specific need for flexibility, don’t give too much information about the situation, as this can bring out unintentional biases. Additionally, make sure to emphasize how you’ve previously been successful in your roles while managing your other demands.

Remote work

After several false starts, companies are starting to seriously discuss a return to the office. What that looks like will depend on the company; some are happy to remain remote, while others are toying with hybrid options, and still, others institute a mandatory return to the office.

Some employees aren’t ready to give up the autonomy and freedom they have gained over the last two years of remote work. In a survey of 1,000 workers, over half indicated that they would prefer to work remotely, permanently. If you are one who is strongly opposed to a return to the office, you may be able to work with your supervisor to gain more flexibility. You can try to do this by showing them that your productivity has flourished during remote work.

Otherwise, you may wish to pursue opportunities that allow more flexibility in this regard. There is still uncertainty going forward, and some companies have yet to make decisive plans. However, if the option for remote or hybrid work is high on your priority list, you’ll want to know what a company’s return-to-work plan looks like.

Pay attention to how the company justifies its future plans, and what factors they consider in determining whether to be in-person, remote, or hybrid. If they have not indicated plans for remote or hybrid options, it can be assumed they will expect employees fully in-person. But if they have adjusted for long-term remote work (such as starting a hoteling policy, where workers can reserve desks on an as-needed basis) they will likely provide more flexibility.

Salary

More workers are asking for raises or increased starting salaries. With the increased demand for employees, employers know that they need to provide appealing wages to remain competitive. If you’re looking for a salary increase at your current job, check out our tips on how to ask for a raise. If you’re looking for a new job and want to know how to negotiate a higher starting salary, read on.

  1. Do your research

Before you begin negotiating your salary, it’s important that you get a preliminary idea of what is reasonable for your position. A great place to start is to use tools such as glassdoor, Payscale, and salary.com. These sites can help you explore the typical going rates for your role.

An article on salary negotiations by the Wallstreet Journal features some expert advice from workplace consultant Lindsey Pollak. She suggests asking company-specific questions on areas such as typical wages and salary negotiations. This will help you better grasp what wages you can expect, as well as help you better prepare for negotiating your salary.

  1. Rely on your performance to justify why you deserve a raise

Prices of everything from groceries to gas are up, and inflation is at play. It makes sense to use the higher cost of living to justify your request for a higher salary, as that seems only fair. However, compensation experts advise against it. It is suggested to be better to focus on your specific performance and achievements, rather than outside influences. Inflation impacts everyone, but your performance and contributions are unique to you.

When asking for a higher salary, it’s important that you find a way to stand out. You should emphasize your value as an employee and explain why you are worth the investment.

  1. Don’t be the first to suggest a number

While it might seem like being the first to suggest a number would be advantageous, negotiation experts advocate against it. The reason for this is that you risk anchoring yourself to a lower salary range. If they offer a salary that is lower than you expected, that is when you should reveal your expectations, and let them know you had anticipated a higher rate for the role.

Company Culture

Another element that has become a deciding factor for many employees is company culture. You spend a great deal of your time at work, and you want to work in a place that feels good and allows you to grow. A big part of this depends on upper management’s style of management, as this affects employee motivations. The management style of the person you report to will have a great effect (for good or bad) on the company culture, but most importantly on you. Having a great boss can enhance your quality of life at work and at home. Make sure to be on the lookout for these qualities when you are interviewing your prospective employers.  A company with great culture will show concern for its employee’s well-being and will take active steps to curtail burnout. Ensuring your values are in alignment from the start will save you from much stress and regret in the future.

Wellbeing

In a recent survey, 68% percent of Millennials (50% in 2019), 81% of Gen Zers (75% in 2019), and 50% of all respondents (34% in 2019) reported having left roles for mental health reasons. The survey noted here was conducted prior to the pandemic, and mental health issues have only compounded. Mental health matters and you deserve to work for a company that recognizes this. Whether or not the company you work for actively plans mental health initiatives, it is a good idea to maintain healthy boundaries, in order to maintain your own peace.

It should not be difficult to get a sense of whether a company takes mental health seriously. Many companies have implemented some mental health support such as access to counseling apps and company-wide mental health days. These are good indicators that a company is making progress toward mental health awareness.  Most important, however, is to pay attention to the overall culture, and how much empathy and flexibility they make space for.

Avoiding Burnout

Burnout is real. And considering everything we all have been through over the last two years, many are feeling it. Check out our blog on avoiding burnout for some tips you can take on an individual level. You’ll also want to make sure that your current or future job is conducive to fighting off burnout.

One way you can do this is by looking into attrition rates. If there has recently been a high number of departures, this could be a bad sign. It indicates there are factors driving workers away, and the workers left behind are tasked with picking up the slack.

Additionally, if you get a sense that an organization is desperate to hire you, be careful. This could mean that you’ll be overloaded with work as soon as you join on and may not receive the training needed to be successful.

Values

Values matter. Working for a company that doesn’t share your values makes it difficult for you to stay motivated to bring your best to the job. In a recent survey, 71% of workers indicated that they would be willing to leave an organization whose values didn’t align with their own. So, how can you get an idea of a company’s values?

You can start by doing some research. Look at a company’s website and the language that they use. Pay attention to whether they list specific actions they are taking to reflect these values. Also, read laterally by examining other sources and see what they might have to say about your potential company’s history and values.

Furthermore, you can really get a sense of a company’s values by making them a central topic in your interview. This article by Harvard Business Review has some great strategies for conducting a values-focused interview. Start by identifying a few of your key values. Then ask open-indicated questions that give your interviewer a chance to reveal how important these values are to the company.

Conclusion

There is much to think about while looking for your perfect position within the perfect (for you) company. Having a strong sense of self and solid goals will help you find what you are looking for. It is easy to let your excitement drive your decision-making but taking your time to do your research will pay off with a perfect match. Just think of how happy future you will be when you are working in the position you have been striving for, within a company aligning with your values. Flexibility and well-being should not be considered perks of a job, they should come as standard. The life-work balance you agree to for any company can be to your own detriment if you are not careful. Make sure you are able to fit your work into the life you want, and not let your work take up too much of your life. You only get one life. Never forget that you are human first and you deserve a beautiful one.

 

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Paternal Leave: Why You Should Take It, If Offered (and Push For It, If Not)

Parental Leave

Traditionally, parental leave was seen as a “mother’s issue”, but that is not the case anymore. Paternal leave is becoming increasingly more common, and it’s a good thing for everyone. Here are some reasons why new parents should take advantage of paternity leave. Additionally, while this article focuses primarily on fathers in heterosexual relationships, it’s paramount to acknowledge that there are many types of families, and they would all benefit from having more family leave.

Better relationships with spouse and children

Paternal leave can have powerful and positive effects on families. Paternal leave allows fathers a bigger part of their children's lives from the very beginning. Studies have shown that dads having a more active role in parenting leads to better behavioral, social, and psychological outcomes for children. Paternity leave has also been shown to strengthen romantic partnerships, and even correlates with lower divorce rates. When both parents are able to take time off, they learn together how to navigate the new responsibilities of parenthood, together. This builds trust and understanding and sets up a strong foundation for their relationship as partners and co-parents.

Improved gender equality in the workplace

It’s well-known that women, on average, earn less than men and that this wage gap is especially large for women of color. A contributing factor is that women are disproportionately driven out of the workforce due to the caregiving expected from them. This also contributes to hiring bias. Employers may subconsciously choose a man over a woman expecting that the man will have fewer responsibilities at home, and therefore have better availability for work. Normalizing paternal leave helps to level the playing field at work. Additionally, research shows that with every additional month of parental leave taken by the father, the mother’s earnings increase by about 7%. And mothers whose spouses take paternal leave tend to return to work more quickly.

Help fight the stigma that caregiving is a woman's responsibility

The idea that keeping house is a woman’s responsibility is obviously problematic and outdated. Caregiving is valuable and rewarding for people of all genders. In fact, qualities that are often strengthened during caregiving like empathy and patience are also qualities of great leaders at work. Studies have shown that dads who take paternity leave continue to have a greater role in housework and childcare long after they return to work, which not only contributes to better equality and satisfaction at home but leads to them being more well-rounded individuals.

Better work-life balance

Half of fathers say that they have missed out on important milestones and events in their children’s life because of work conflicts. Dads who take paternity leave often report better job satisfaction. Better job satisfaction allows them to be more productive at work and home. They also frequently report the time they spend at home is very fulfilling. While on leave, they don’t have to worry about missing out on important parenting moments. Paternity leave gives them the time they need to establish routines and get used to parenting, so it’s not quite as overwhelming once they go back to work.

What prevents fathers from taking it?

Now that we’ve talked about the benefits of paternal leave, it’s important to talk about why not everyone takes it. Some of the main reasons are economic pressures and stigma.

Economic Factors

In the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 allows up to 12 weeks of job-protected (but unpaid) leave for specific family and medical reasons. Of course, with no source of income, it can be a challenge for parents to take much time off. Some parents even report fear of losing their jobs due to taking too much time off. That is why Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) is crucial. Many people are working to expand paid family leave and allow both mothers and fathers to take time off to raise their families without penalty. Celebrities like Chance the Rapper, Anne Hathaway, and John Legend are even joining the fight.

Social Stigma

The old-fashioned idea that men are supposed to be the sole breadwinners of the family may be outdated, but it still leads many men to feel as though they shouldn’t take time off for family. What’s more, just 26% of managers encourage men to take leave. But choosing to take paternal leave, even if it is not already encouraged, is a huge step fathers can take in breaking the stigma. 73% of fathers believe there is little support for fathers in the workplace, and 72% of men said they would have taken longer parental leave if they had seen their co-workers do so. Being brave enough to push for paternal leave at companies where it’s not already offered will help employers understand that it’s something employees value, and this is a huge step toward changing the culture. Plus, because companies that offer paternal leave generally have happier and more productive employees, it is beneficial to the companies as well.

Taking paternal leave improves dads’ relationships with their children and spouse, leads to a better work-life balance, enables better gender quality at home and in the workplaces, and even benefits companies by creating happier and more productive employees. However, it is not universally accessible and there is still a stigma surrounding it. If paternity leave is offered at your company, you should take it. If it’s not, we greatly encourage you to push for it.

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Upskilling and Reskilling: The Secret to Staying Ahead of the Competition in Hiring and Brand Reputation

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More than half – 56 percent – of organizations believe they have a moderate to severe skills gap today, and 60 percent of employees believe that, to some extent, their current skill set will become outdated in the next three to five years. A commitment to Upskilling and Reskilling employees is quickly becoming the best path to overcoming skills gaps.

What is Upskilling and Reskilling?

Upskilling is learning new skills to optimize performance. Organizations upskill their employees to help them gain new skills and experience to stay relevant or move into a higher position. Whereas reskilling helps employees learn new skills to take up a new role within the same organization. Reskilling is more focused on training employees for a new position.

Benefits of Upskilling or Reskilling

Stay Competitive and Improve Employee Retention

Employees want learning and development opportunities to help them stay relevant in their role as well as position them for advancement. Providing a pathway for skills development motivates employees. Making them feel valued and supported, increasing their likelihood to stay with your organization long term. Upskilling and reskilling team members also helps keep companies competitive and shows that they are motivated to invest in the professional development of their employees.

Improve Morale and Productivity

Training and development opportunities help employees move forward on their career path and helps them envision their future with the organization, improving morale. Across teams, efficiency and productivity is improved, paving the way for increased satisfaction and strengthening your company’s competitive edge.

Attracts Great Talent

As word of your commitment to upskilling and reskilling spreads, your reputation in the eyes of your employees and the wider talent market improves. 91% of the millennials indicated that they preferred career development to any other benefit when choosing to join a company. By offering the right mix of upskill and reskill opportunities, employees who are motivated to keep learning and growing are motivated to stay and great talent with a similar mindset is encouraged to join.

Reduces Hiring Costs

Hiring is costly, from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary. A measurable advantage of upskilling and reskilling is that it reduces hiring efforts to search for a specialist in a field. It is a much smaller investment compared to the cost of the recruitment process for hiring a new employee.

Upskilling and reskilling can help your company secure the right people with the right skills that you need to compete today while providing flexibility to arm team members with the necessary skills needed in the future. This attention reduces the need to look outside for talent with specific skillsets, saving time and hiring costs and allows for continuity among team members when it comes to proprietary company knowledge that would have otherwise walked right out the door.

How to Upskill and Reskill Employees?

Online Courses/Webinars

Remote learning is the most popular way to upskill and reskill during the current times when most employees are working from home. Online courses can be free or paid, and most of them provide a certificate at the end of the course. Investing in online classes allows you to upskill employees regardless of their location and time zone.

Classroom Training

Organizations can also upskill employees in a traditional classroom setting. They can hire trainers or institutes to share ideas and teach new skills and software to their employees. However, with the project deadlines, work commitments, and remote working, it becomes less feasible to attend scheduled training on the allocated day, time, and location.

Mentors

Mentorship programs within the organization are another great way to upskill employees. Subject matter experts (SMEs) from different areas can pair with employees to share new skills. This helps companies to leverage their existing talent to meet future requirements. Mentorship programs come in various forms and can be customized based on the upskilling or reskilling needs.

Pioneer companies are aware of the changing technological demands of the workplace. Last year, Amazon announced it would be dedicating $700 million to provide 100,000 employees access to upskilling training programs. In comparison, salesforce pledged to train 500,000 Americans with the skills they need to earn Salesforce credentials. Analyzing what skills are missing across the organization and upskilling or reskilling employees based on those skills will help create a growth-focused culture and continuous learning.

 

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