Shared from the 3/18/2022 Financial Review eEdition

Innovative leaders recast world of work


The job market is always changing, but most employers would agree that the past two years have been more of a workplace revolution than an evolution.

Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, Australia has witnessed generation-low unemployment, skills shortages across a range of industries and a more scattered and mobile workforce, with people working from home and switching jobs like never before.

With workers now holding a position of power in the workplace dynamic, many employers have found a new appreciation for the value of engaging and retaining the experience and skills of their existing workforce. As an employee engagement company with 16 years supporting the sector, Reward Gateway has seen this workplace transformation up close.

The company's senior vice-president of global consultancy, Kylie Green, says the increasingly competitive climate for workers had become an issue well beyond human resources departments. "It's become a key issue for all business leaders. It is an important part of the executive-level conversation about how to attract, retain and align employees to drive growth," she says.

While there may be multiple paths to respond to the changing workplace, Green believes one thing is clear-employers who use technology effectively to keep their workforce engaged have a huge competitive edge. Reward Gateway's employee engagement offering is built around an all-in-one digital employee engagement platform that helps create a centralised employee experience customised for each client.

The platform provides technology that delivers employee recognition, rewards, wellbeing, surveys, benefits and discounts-all aimed at underpinning the recruitment, engagement and retention of workers.

Reward Gateway has a strong grasp of global trends, with a presence in 23 countries, partnering with more than 2500 companies and reaching more than 5 million employees.

Research conducted by the company suggests Australian workers, like many across the world, are in the mood to move. Late last year, Reward Gateway surveyed 3800 employers and employees and found that more than 40 per cent of employees planned to leave their roles over the next 12 months. Green says the finding aligned with local and global research on the so-called Great Resignation, a COVID-19-inspired reckoning that saw large numbers of workers quit their jobs.

"At Reward Gateway, we see the Great Resignation more as the Great Adjustment, as it represents an opportunity for innovative leaders to redefine their world of work, to reconsider how they attract, retain, connect and engage their people, and define a new employee experience," she says. "The cost of turnover to a business is significant in recruitment, ramp time, productivity impact, cultural impact, salary creep and, of course, impact on clients and relationships.

"The total cost of losing an employee is anywhere from 50 per cent to 200 per cent of an employee's salary depending on the role and industry. One of the most impactful things that employers can do in the current competitive climate is to invest in enhancing engagement

and connection with existing employees."

Green says fair pay and flexible working conditions were seen as basic requirements, but potential employees were looking for more.

"Employees want trust in leadership and positive managerial relationships," she says. "Financial, physical and mental wellbeing support remain integral. We are seeing company culture continue to be a key driver of a healthy, successful workforce, with employees seeking alignment to an organisation's mission, purpose and values."

Employees, generally, were willing to show loyalty to their employer if they felt valued and rewarded.

Green offers three top tips for business leaders on cost-effective ways to enhance their "employee value proposition" (EVP) and highlight their brand.

Focus on opportunities to package and promote existing benefits. "Our research showed that 95 per cent of Australian employers plan to enhance their employee benefits this year," she says. "While doing this, they could be exploring how to maximise their current benefits. We partner with many organisations to bring together and highlight the great benefits they offer employees, providing technology to ensure these are accessible no matter where or when they work."

Consider more effective alternatives to salary increases, such as an employee benefit or discount program, which makes use of the purchasing power of a central provider to offer employees discounts at hundreds of retailers.

"This enables employees and their families to save several thousands of dollars a year on everything from essentials to luxury items," Green says. The next few months would be a challenging time for executive teams as employee expectations of salary increases pushed up against the reality of companies' budgets during remuneration reviews. A well-targeted employee discount program could make a difference.

Think like a marketer as a way of developing positive employer brand associations both internally and externally. "Consider how to market your organisation and your brand to showcase the best of your EVP." This could involve a weekly internal blog, a digital wall of recognition messages or always-on surveys for an instant pulse on morale. Green sees Reward Gateway's central engagement platform as a "digital campfire" -a welcoming hub for employees to come together, and a place that promotes a company's culture.

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