These are the 3 things employees want from their job

As employers struggle to retain top talent amid the trend that has earned the name “Great Resignation,” it’s clear that delivering benefits and experiences that resonate with employees will be a top priority for HR this year.

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With that as context, HCM and payroll provider Paylocity recently surveyed 1,600 employees across roles and industries about what they value in a workplace and also polled more than 200 HR professionals about what they think job seekers are looking for in an employer.

The survey found that the top three aspects employees say give an employer value are competitive compensation and benefits; an engaged manager; and a safe, inclusive workplace—and highlighted some gaps in HR’s understanding of these trends.

According to Calvin Sun, senior director of compensation, benefits & talent analytics at Paylocity, HR leaders can help control many of the factors job seekers today are expecting. And it’s imperative they do, he says.

On the competitive compensation and benefits front, while HR leaders don’t always have direct influence over salaries or pay grades, Sun says, they can press for innovative perks like early access to earned wages. In fact, 79% of employees in Paylocity’s research would switch employers to get access to on-demand pay, while 89% of workers would stay at their current company longer just for the benefit. To no surprise, health insurance ranked as the No. 1 benefit by 45% of respondents.

Ginger Zee of ABC News to headline Health & Benefits Leadership Conference 2022Sun also cites solutions like compensation transparency, automated total rewards statements, and, finally, data-based, employee-specific pay decisions.

“When listing job descriptions, for example, employers should work with HR to provide upfront salary ranges and total compensation including benefits,” Sun says. “This will help ensure candidates aren’t surprised or frustrated later in the interviewing process, and some states may require this for compliance purposes.”

When it comes to the engaged manager finding, workers over 45 valued this slightly more than younger peers; however, HR professionals ranked it even lower, which, Sun says, could be setting employers up for risk.

“A good manager has always been important, but the shift to hybrid work environments has only made it more difficult for managers to recognize employee progress, track workloads, foster relationships and foster growth,” Sun says. He suggests that managers be incorporated into the hiring process and equipped with the tools to support direct reports.

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See also: How data can drive belonging, slow down the mass exodus of talent

“Performance management tools can help managers easily document employee goals, track ongoing progress, conduct fair and transparent performance reviews and open up productive, two-way conversations,” Sun says, adding that a strong learning management system also can support managers and their teams alike to level up their leadership and communications skills.

Employers also have a lot of opportunity when it comes to the the third-ranked value—a safe and inclusive workplace—Sun says. It’s an area becoming increasingly important for younger workers, particularly those under age 30, according to the survey. Interestingly, HR professionals slightly overestimated the importance of workplace safety to employees, ranking it as the No. 1 most desired value, alongside compensation. Considering HR professionals have been responsible for maintaining safe working conditions for employees during the public health crisis, it makes sense workplace safety is top of mind.

Beyond physical safety related to the pandemic, Sun advises HR leaders to embed inclusion across their practices: from recruiting to training to creating a culture of recognition. Many HCM platforms and LMS offer courses and modules on DEI-related topics like unconscious bias and microaggressions, he adds, that HR should make full use of.

While good pay, engaged managers and workplace safety aren’t exactly new priorities for job seekers, “today’s employees have given these factors new shape, and it requires HR leaders approach them differently to attract and retain their people amid the mass exodus,” Sun says.

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Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at