Employees with scarce or special skills feel they have a strong position in the labour market. A significant number of them say they will ask for a raise or a promotion in the coming year, or look for a new job. This is one of the results of PwC's Hopes & Fears 2022, a survey of employees' experiences and expectations of their jobs. The survey - of more than 51,000 employees from 44 countries, including 1,043 in the Netherlands - offers employers points of departure for their HR and recruitment policies.
Many Dutch employees are satisfied with their jobs, but in the 'war on talent' they feel secure enough to make demands.
62% of respondents will probably ask for a salary increase
‘Discuss working hours with part-timers’
‘What strikes me about these results is that the number of people who want to reduce their working hours is greater than the percentage of employees who are considering working more. This may have something to do with issues such as work pressure and stress experienced by employees.
This outcome worries me. The shortage in the labour market is a complex social problem for which there is no single solution. But extending the working hours of part-timers certainly contributes to relief, both for employers and for society as a whole.
Employers should start a conversation with part timers about increasing their working hours. And especially about what they need in their working conditions to do so. For example, offering flexibility of work in time or place or other changes in working conditions may open possibilities. The government can also contribute by reducing the marginal tax burden in such a way that working more hours actually pays off.’
Many employers are faced with (impending) shortages of specific skills. In order to maintain these skills, they mainly invest in their existing workforce. According to the employees surveyed, there is much less focus on looking for alternatives.
‘Employers need to be more creative’
‘Of more than 1,000 Dutch respondents to this survey, only 40 percent said that their employer used further training as a means of retraining or building skills. So there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to retraining employees. An adequate set of skills is necessary to keep organisations running now, but also in the future.
It is almost disappointing that so few employers are broadening their recruitment efforts to include groups that they do not yet have in their sights as potential employees. In my own practice I often see employers thinking that if they just raise salaries, people will stay or come. But that is not the case; it takes much more than that. These results translate almost automatically into the call for employers to be more creative in their recruitment and in finding other solutions for the labour market shortage, such as the use of technology. They have to start thinking and operating much more outside the box'.
In an uncertain economic time with high inflation, salary remains one of the most important factors for employees. But it is not the only one. As we saw in our Hopes & Fears survey last year, employees are also looking for meaningful work and for ways to make the most of their skills.
(only extreme/very important)
Differentiate in terms of employment
If a salary is not in line with the market or competitive, it is a dissatisfier, but in general it appears time and time again that much more is needed to bind people to an organisation.
For employers, it is essential - especially in the tight labour market in which we currently find ourselves - to investigate what really drives people and what makes the difference. That gives direction to the package of employment conditions you offer. And think about differentiation in the offer, which enables you to respond adequately to different wishes and needs. For a young employee entering the housing market, the level of salary may be crucial. An employee with family care responsibilities may have a greater need for flexibility in time or place.
ESG (environmental, social, governance) impact is high on the agenda of both employers and employees. Employees believe that their employers should be transparent about the achievement of their social goals. Translating climate objectives to the shop floor seems to be difficult. But when employees discuss political or social issues, the effect is positive rather than polarising.
(only extreme/very important)
Make ESG policy small and concrete
In these results you see that ESG policy is still in its early stages at many organisations. Targets are set at macro level, but employees are not yet included. Top-down policy is necessary: if the leadership does not show that ESG objectives are important and does not promote them, it has no chance. But on top of that comes the bottom-up perspective: how can I as an individual contribute? It is crucial that people feel supported and facilitated in this. To give an example, we have recently introduced the EFI tool that shows the individual footprint of business travel. That narrows the topic from abstract strategy to individual behaviour. By making your footprint very concrete, you can talk to each other, but also with clients, about different ways of working.
Don't just have difficult conversations at the coffee machine
No employer wants to bring in the polarisation of the street and social media. As an employer you must therefore provide standards and guidelines in terms of listening to each other and treating each other with respect. You have to prevent this conversation from taking place only at the coffee machine. In a business setting, it is advisable to facilitate and organise the dialogue. If a topic is a live issue in society - think of Black Lives Matter or transgressive behaviour - you can hold such dialogue sessions. It requires an investment of time, effort and sometimes money, but it really pays off. This research clearly shows that people gain better insight and understanding into other people's perspectives, which fits in perfectly with the aim of making organisations more inclusive. And that just doesn't happen by itself.