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Changing stakeholder perspectives: Employees

In this Changing Stakeholder Perspectives series, we investigate the ways in which the New Normal – media anarchy, hyper-transparency, and interconnectivity – has fundamentally altered the relationship between businesses and their stakeholders and what this means for corporate reputation and external communications.

Top talent acquisition and retention is a key corporate battleground, with the competition for high skilled workers fuelled by low unemployment, increasing workplace complexity, and dethroning of salary as the primary comparison point between companies. In research by McKinsey, almost one-third of senior leaders cite identifying and securing talent as their most significant managerial challenge, with organisations in Europe and North America predicted to need 16 million to 18 million more graduate workers than the available pool in 2020.

A further complication is that there are now more employers fishing in the same pool. With the digitisation of the economy, there is increasing competition across different industries for finite talent: engineers, data scientists, and developers are needed in every industry, from pharmaceuticals to agriculture, and tech companies face growing competition from traditional sectors to secure the best people. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2020 there will be one million more IT jobs than computer science students in the country.

Reputation drives employee decision making

In this particular contest, reputation is a decisive asset. When considering their long-term prospects, employees are weighing up past performance, staff reviews, media exposure, and brand values when choosing which waggon to hitch their career too. In the US, 84% of jobseekers say the reputation of a company is important to them; while 50% wouldn’t work for a company with a bad reputation, regardless of remuneration.

And for employees who are becoming more selective about who they work for, reputation isn’t a nebulous concept. They want to feel a concrete alignment between an organisation’s values and their own sense of purpose. Being fulfilled is more important to many workers than being highly paid: research by Mercer shows that ‘thriving’ employees are three times more likely to work for companies that evidence a purpose-driven mission. People with talent want to feel like they’re making a difference, in an arena that matters to them. 

Which is not to say that they will put up with poor working conditions in return for job satisfaction. LinkedIn’s 2019 report on recruiting trends showed 72% of talent professionals citing flexible working as extremely important in shaping the future of recruiting. Since 2016, LinkedIn has seen a 78% increase in job posts featuring workplace flexibility. Actively combatting workplace harassment, in the wake of the #MeToo movement, is also resonating strongly with jobseekers. 

Purposeful employment

To attract the talent they need, organisations must outline their purpose, by ensuring that their core values are presented in external, talent-facing forums: but any failure to be authentic in this process will soon be exposed. Digital employment platforms have served to create greater transparency in the marketplace, allowing employees to compare opportunities and organisations, and be more selective in where they apply; as well as highlighting any gaps between what a company says, and what it does, in regards to its employees. 

LinkedIn, for example, shows people how their peers are moving up, and where they themselves sit in the hierarchy of talent; while sites such as Glassdoor offer insight into how current employees rate the culture and job satisfaction at a given company. TalentNow reports that 55% of jobseekers abandon applications as a result of reading negative online reviews, but only 45% of employers ever monitor or attempt to address those reviews

With the competition for securing and retaining top talent ever fiercer, it is now no longer simply a case of how much you’re willing to pay, but what you stand for and whether you deliver on your promises that counts.

In the next blog in this series, we look at the changing ways in which investors are evaluation organisations and the implications this has for reputational priorities and external communications. 

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