Successful Companies Will Be Those That Embrace the New Employee Economy

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Jun 7, 2018

As the world of work evolves, the employee-employer relationship has also evolved and now looks much different than even a few years ago. The employee journey is fluid, and organizations must allow for the movement into, within, and out of their company with flexibility and ease. Better employee-employer relationships drive higher engagement, loyalty, and trust. And these key elements are the building blocks of a successful future for any modern organization.

So how has the employee-employer relationship evolved? First of all, the employee relationship is no longer end-to-end, but beginning-to-beginning, meaning that the relationship with an employee doesn’t end when they leave, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Today’s employer-employee relationship transcends the norms and boundaries of finite employment and focuses on long-term relationships based on trust and transparency. This means employers should start to see departing employees as future brand ambassadors (think: Glassdoor endorsement or social media shares), customers, hiring references, or even boomerang — returning employees. And the tides are quickly changing, according to the data; 76% of HR professionals say they are more likely to hire “boomerang employees” now than in the past.

Employees are thinking differently too. They view their jobs as opportunities to pursue their passions, experience professional growth, gain new experiences, and expand their networks. Individuals want to learn and grow and are willing to leave if they think they’ll learn more, or find more opportunities, somewhere else. One survey found 70% of employees say job related training and development opportunities — or lack thereof — impacted their decision to stay at their job.

About 38.2 million people voluntarily quit their job in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so embracing this new employee relationship economy should be a topic for discussion across every HR and leadership team. Here are three problematic hot spots and ideas for embracing the employee relationship economy in the years ahead.

Rethinking the employee journey

When you begin to think about the employee journey from beginning-to-beginning, it’s easy to see why every step of the process is so vital to building trust and long-term happiness with employees (who just might return to your organization one day). From their very first touchpoint with your brand to separation from the company and beyond, employees should feel supported. For many organizations, working with a recruiting agency on the front end, and an outplacement or job transition services provider to aid exiting employees, is critical to ensuring employees move through their journey seamlessly with a positive sentiment toward the brand.

There’s a growing engagement challenge most employers face, as well. According to Gallup research, one-third of workers are fully engaged in their current role. Even though we often tout the idea that employees are our number one resource, companies often have difficulty delivering critical support to that resource. Those who enter the workplace knowing their employer has their back and will not cast them aside without any support are more likely to stay committed to performing at their highest level.

Taking care of employees has never been more important than now, in the era of the employee relationship economy. Employees simply won’t choose to re-engage with former employers if they don’t experience a commitment from the employer to make their journey, even to a new job, a positive one.

Enable employees to grow

Workers entering the workforce, such as millennials and GenZ-ers, assume their work will require the use and knowledge of quickly evolving technologies. In fact, nearly 93% of GenZ-ers are so technologically savvy they believe it’s causing a gap with other generations. Baby boomers, who may have had less exposure to technology throughout their career, are actively updating their skills and gaining the knowledge they need to remain in the workforce.

This evolution of technology usually works in the employer’s favor, making access to information about available jobs easily obtainable. Employees can leverage this same access to information, however, to find the growth and learning opportunities they need. In short, they are always minutes away from easily searching for or even landing a new job.

According to McKinsey “Failure to attract and retain top talent was the number-one issue in the Conference Board’s 2016 survey of global CEOs.” For organizations hoping to retain valuable talent, redistribution of workers based on their skills and recognized areas for growth is key. As the war for talent continues in the years to come, it will be increasingly important to give employees the resources and room they need to grow and progress — or risk losing them altogether to a new opportunity.

Many leading organizations, especially given the war for talent, train up talent and then watch that talent eventually leave. This can create quite a paradox for managers and leaders within your organization who aren’t sure it’s worth taking time and energy to invest in individual employees. The reality is, it’s always worth the time. Whether they stay with your company for 3 months, 3 years, or 3 decades, employees will influence your organization and brand for years to come given the new employees relationship economy.

Build trust

Trust is not built overnight — yet in today’s business climate, it’s critical to business success. Customers must trust the employer to provide the best possible products and services, or they will go elsewhere with their dollars. Similarly, employees must trust employers to keep their best interests in mind, or they are at risk of finding a different place to work.

Trust is built through transparency, communication, consistency, and investment. Regardless of how severe a situation your organization might face (think: layoff or lawsuit), it’s imperative to communicate transparently and in real-time with employees. Consistency in how managers treat employees and how employees are rewarded and provided feedback also goes a long way in building trust. It’s an investment worth making.

By 2020, as much as 40% of the workforce will be on-demand workers, able to cherry-pick their assignments with companies. This means employees will choose to work for you only if and when you have established a credible reputation as a great place to work and have proven the value of your mission.

As we explain in our whitepaper, the future of work will be driven by the employee-employer relationship: past, future, and present. Assume your employees today will become brand ambassadors, boomerang employees, or contract workers in the future. Now is the time to invest in their well-being, engagement, and even help land them their next job. And even if they never return, maximizing their potential while they’re at your company is always a safe bet — not to mention the right thing to do.