Job for life is ‘thing of the past’

Malta is in the middle of a recruitment crisis and is facing a serious retention issue. Consequently, this means that businesses seeking to attract people must do far more than offer a steady job. The ‘job for life’ mentality is a thing of the past.

Being rewarded meets a basic human need. Rewards tick all the boxes in terms of attraction, retention and engagement. Rewarding employees may have an impact on the way people feel and perceive their employer.

Employees in today’s market are faced with various job options and opportunities. High staff turnover is a big concern for employers, particularly those who invest heavily in staff development and training. While it is understandable that pay and career progression are two very important factors for employees, employers are seeking ways of differentiating themselves from competition.

Employers need to be imaginative and creative. Of course, improving salary will always remain a main element and vital when it comes to attracting and retaining employees. But, money is only a hygiene factor.

Apart from employers showing appreciation for their staff’s valued contribution to the organisation, it might be worth investing in other benefits. Designing a benefits package (and by ‘benefits’ I don’t just mean the typical fringe benefits such as health insurance) for employees can help improve retention.

According to the latest Reward Management Survey published by The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development of the UK, 97 per cent of practitioners were expected to maintain or increase their spending on benefits (CIPD, 2018). This data confirms the importance and potential of these benefits.

Here are a few ideas employers can introduce within their organisation.

1. Make the office a fun place to be

A great office does not only mean that the employer encourages and fosters teamwork. It also refers to the physical environment, one which provides well-being. Here I am not referring to offering fitness facilities or canteens or relaxation areas.

I understand these may come at a high cost for employers. However, lighting, sound control, storage systems and  comfortable work stations all contribute towards making the office great and fun.

2. Flexibility

Flexibility does not just relate to the flexibility to work from home or on reduced hours. It also relates to my earlier note on having a great office.

Different workspaces give employees flexibility. What is the availability like for employees to work from different spaces at the office, possibly depending on what tasks they will be doing?

I feel I should mention the different flexibility options employers may provide for their employees. Flexibility should be offered to every staff member, regardless of their situation. Unfortunately, many a time, it is only offered to employees with children.

Flexibility may not only support your initiative to retain people. It also by making yourself accessible to older people or those with caring responsibilities, thus also supporting talent attraction.

I do unfortunately feel that opportunities are being missed because of limited available flexible options or, even worse, unsupportive managers.

3. Work-life balance

A healthy work-life balance is crucial for the success of every business. Employers who believe that long working hours are the norm may be faced with recurrent employee retention problems. Employers should be encouraging employees to take vacation leave. If employees are required to work long hours on a particular task or project, they should also let them know that it is acceptable if they turn up late for work the following day or if they end their day earlier. This should not be offered as an alternative to paid overtime – as it would defeat the whole scope. Flexibility, as discussed earlier, is also an initiative that contributes towards a healthy work-life balance.

4. Help staff develop themselves

While it is important that employers invest in the professional development of their employees by organising training courses or coaching for them, it is equally beneficial to provide educational assistance. This could come in the form of reimbursement for full or part of their education.

5. Don’t throw away the traditional

Keeping the traditional employee benefits still bears fruit. Therefore, offering health and life insurance, memberships, discount schemes and so on are still popular with employees. They actually are close to becoming a ‘must-have’, an add-on to the salary.

We have arrived at a point where it is paramount to develop retention strategies. Employers need to consider what makes their workplace a place one would aspire to work at. They should engage with their employees to understand and possibly implement those changes that would make the environment more employee-friendly.

This article featured in the Classified Section of The Sunday Times of Malta on 24 February 2019.

About the author

Maria Bartolo Zahra is Managing Director and HR Advisor at SurgeAdvisory. She has over sixteen years of human resources and business advisory experience.