There are a number of factors beyond salary that motivate employees, according to a recent survey carried out by Aphabe.com
Every employee is interested in salaries, bonuses and benefits, but these are not the only considerations when choosing to take up a new position. These days, “growth opportunity” also plays an important role, as voted on by 22.01 per cent of respondents to our survey, representing 22.67 per cent of what is considered “total reward”. This criterion is particularly attractive to young professionals, with many appreciating growth opportunity more than total reward. A combination of culture and values, leadership, and work and life quality also occupies a significant proportion of the decision making by working professionals when choosing where to work.
More than just salary
Employee incomes may come from many different sources but they always pay attention to a competitive base salary because this is their most stable income. However, attractive benefits and fair bonuses are now emerging as factors. Professionals go to work because of salary, but to motivate and retain them businesses need to diversify their sources of income instead of just focusing on a competitive base salary, as previously.
From our survey we realised that there has been a move from the importance of “instantly attractive factors” like total reward to “long-term connection factors” like compensation increases or future income.
Becoming more attractive in the total reward criterion is not easy for companies because it costs a great deal to change a total reward system. We can apply some methods, however, to change the “perception” of a company’s attractiveness regarding total reward and garner trust and long-term commitment from employees. For example, instead of increasing an employee’s salary by 10 per cent once a year, it could be increased twice a year by 5 per cent. This can be more effective because it implies company stability and positive business results.
Secure employment and frequent compensation increases also significantly affect the decisions between men and women in choosing where to work. Because of a yearning for stability, women focus on frequent compensation increases and secure employment more so than men. Companies therefore need to pay attention to gender factors when creating policies on total reward.
There are many types of benefits that cost companies significantly but nonetheless fail to gain employees’ satisfaction. Companies need to share information openly with their employees to help them clearly understand the value of associated benefits beyond salary. Moreover, when an economy is in deep recession many companies must make major changes in structure and development strategy. This significantly affects employees’ thinking. Open discussions to generate a more detailed understanding and support from employees play an important role in retaining talent and even help to increase the attractiveness of the employer brand in the eyes of employees and potential employees.
Growth opportunity is not just promotions
Instead of focusing on total reward, professionals are more interested in jobs that can give them greater opportunities to develop their career. Growth opportunity means the opportunity to deepen knowledge and expertise through performing daily tasks, not just promotion. There is clear evidence supporting this fact, with 19.67 per cent of survey respondents choosing a company that can give them an interesting job with diverse experiences, while only 5.52 per cent want to work for a company that can give them rapid promotion opportunities. This is important in helping the human resources department improve employer brand effectiveness through relevant policies and activities that meet such expectations. For example, adopting a career roadmap with a range of skills and experiences, or conducting leadership courses in addition to regular training.
Another clear new trend is that professionals highly regard the “international exposure” factor, especially during this time of broader globalisation and greater international competition. International exposure should be understood as working experience needing to be standardised at the international level. During the survey process, suggestions we recognised as helping businesses to satisfy the expectations of professionals in this regard include generating a work environment with foreign colleagues or clients, providing opportunities to speak English every day, and facilitating international business travel or international training.
“Leadership” is one of six main criteria used in evaluating an employer brand. Our survey results, however, show that expectations by professionals about leadership relate to organisational leadership, not the individual talent of any one leader. Three factors of interest to professionals are inspiring vision and clear strategy, talent development and empowerment, and good employee engagement, all of which require effort from and organisation’s leadership as a whole, not from any individual. This again proves that professionals seek growth opportunities and leadership must support their needs. To make an employer brand image more attractive in the leadership criterion, companies should develop both external and internal communications more broadly in terms of business development and human resources.
Accompanying the emerging trend of appreciating the importance of structure planning (or organisational development) in conglomerates, each leader in the organisation is also expected to perform this task well. Specifically, when we analysed the expectations of leadership in large companies (> 500 employees), the result was that professionals demand a capacity for effective organisational structuring, effective communications and work process, and good employment engagement.
Fairness & respect
Culture and values is an indispensable criterion in making an employer brand attractive. Each business will build their own culture but the survey showed that there are nine culture and value factors affecting employer attractiveness, including professionalism, fairness and respect, recognition and reward, trust and transparency, talent appreciation and recruitment, teamwork, a creative and dynamic work environment, and friendly people.
In conducting the survey we found that fairness and respect is the most important cultural aspect and is key to attracting and retaining talent. Based solely on a foundation of culture and values and depending on each business, different cultural factors do make a difference.
Work is life
Previously, according to working professionals, life and work were two different matters, but today work cannot be separated from life. The term that illustrates this trend is “life careerism”.
In the survey, respondents seeking life careerism usually think that: “I will make a working plan depending on priorities in life. Job goal needs to be purposeful and meaningful and not just financial, so that I feel I am contributing. I love diversified life experiences. Life careerism is expressed clearly in the younger generation, known as Generation Y.”
The survey on young people’s psychology was developed by Nielsen and showed the preference for life careerism. The younger generation have received a good education, are very active, well-rehearsed in new technology, and not under pressure to take care of a family. In being able to acquire and compare information quickly, they also have greater demands in terms of life quality.
Methods to bolster the employer brand in the “work & life quality” criterion include building good health and wellness programmes, good family care programmes, work flexibility, a balanced and a controllable workload, a nice office in a convenient location, a safe and secure environment, efficient facilities and support teams, and work and life financial support.
As regards difference in gender, women highly appreciate a balanced and controllable workload, while men’s attitudes toward work and life quality are better when provided with efficient facilities and support teams. The survey results also provide solutions for businesses when building a benefits scheme outside of salary. A successful employer brand is expressed in two requirements: diversification and specification, based on the needs of each talent group by age and gender.
Motivation and reputation
Of six factors, company reputation accounts for the lowest expectation but is the firm foundation for job seekers to judge and evaluate the five others factors, especially when learning about a company. Business profile will directly affect the estimation of professionals about the company’s ability to satisfy total reward, growth opportunity, and work and life quality. This is the foundation for a company to combine its communications strategy with its employer brand strategy. For example, there is a close connection between a large company and their ability to satisfy total reward and a company with many successful brands and their ability to give growth opportunity through diversified experiences.
Reasons for choice
Among the ten factors playing a decisive role in talent joining or leaving, three are in the total reward criterion. This shows that while there are many different criteria, total reward still remains the most attractive.
Competitive base salary remains the key reason for talent leaving. Different elements a company builds, like culture and values and company reputation, are unlikely to change when not reflected in competitive salary. An indispensable tip in attracting and retaining talent is that businesses need to update their salary scale constantly to meet the expectations of professionals as far as possible.
The survey showed that there is a difference between the opinions of HR people and others about the importance of the criteria. This may be the root of the gap in satisfaction in the business and the actual expectations of working people, especially the major gap between the two most important criterion: total reward and growth opportunity.
The survey was conducted online by Aphabe.com, with support from Nielsen, between October and December 2013 on 9,032 respondents from over 1,000 companies in Vietnam.