What do candidates truly want?

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In a candidate-short market, we are finding that both employees and potential employees are still very much in the driver’s seat when it comes to negotiating contracts, terms and conditions and, of course, their salaries.

As employers, we need to have an understanding of what our candidates want, which more often than not equates to more than simply money. Employment packages now tend to take a more holistic approach to ticking boxes for staff.

So how can we find that happy equilibrium that doesn’t leave us feeling like we’ve gotten a raw deal?

Below I delve into the top five things which come up on candidates “wish-lists” when looking for new employment opportunities.

› Flexibility: Topping the list, flexibility comes up in every single interview. Candidates expect flexibility – not only where they work, but when they work. Many companies that have embraced a flexible working approach have reported greater productivity and happier employees – trusting our people by allowing them to manage their own time and commitments, both work and personal, is now an expectation rather than a benefit. It’s not a practical approach for all companies, however for those that can, the results tend to speak for themselves. As recruiters we definitely find it harder to recruit for roles which limit or don’t allow flexibility.

› Growth and development: Most candidates we are recruiting are looking for a career pathway and growth. Companies that offer personal development plans for their staff are more likely to hold onto their employees for longer. After listening to a successful business owner speak this week about his 40 years in business, he said his people were key to his success. At first he got upset about spending time and resources on training staff. But he soon realised the benefits – and the longevity – created when staff felt valued, had clear growth strategies and could give the skills gained back to the business. For those who left after he trained them, he initially felt bitterness, but now he feels honored to have been a mentor and for them to go on and have amazing careers, often bringing their businesses into partnership with his own.

› Culture and communication: Combining these two points seems natural – with good communication comes good culture. Candidates who seek a good work culture are also asking to be communicated with and given understanding around what is happening in the office with no closed-door policies. Companies that have open-door policies allow staff to feel like they are more involved in the business, especially if they are consulted for opinions; Whether this be asking the cleaner their opinion on the best cleaning products to use, or getting the staff to choose a new colour to paint the office, simple involvement can make staff feel part of the team and that their opinions count in the bigger scheme.

› Sustainability and purpose: This is coming into discussions more often, with candidates looking for sustainable, meaningful workplaces. People want to be proud of where they work and want to ensure that the work that they do is going to be sustainable for future generations. This comes in the form of both environmental sustainability and being a good corporate citizen.

› Salary: With fewer jobseekers than available jobs, candidates are put into a stronger bargaining position when it comes to negotiating salaries. As a result, employers are competing for talent, leading to higher salaries to attract and retain employees. Government policies aimed at improving living standards for New Zealanders have also played a role in the rise in salaries.

For most employers, at some point this has been problematic, from keeping up with the steep rise in inflation which has reflected in salaries, to losing staff to competitors who are paying more, or getting into a bidding war when making offers, to the problem of pay relativity within your workforce.

Employers are looking at more creative ways to ‘add-value’ to packages without necessarily paying outside of the base salary range. With cost of living at an all-time high, there is no doubt that whilst cash in the hand is what employees are needing, adding a benefits package can sweeten the offer significantly. Although money isn’t always the driving factor, it’s still incredibly relevant, and has crept up in the past 18 months as our cost of living has risen.

Employees and candidates know their value, and building an attractive package encompassing all the elements discussed is crucial to recruiting and retaining great people.
If your struggling with any aspects of your recruitment or wish to discuss HR options, feel free to get in touch with Kellie and the team at TalentID.

Related: Impact of election on employment market

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Kellie Hamlett
Kellie Hamlett
Director, Recruitment & HR Specialist, Talent ID Recruitment Ltd. She can be contacted on kellie@talentid.co.nz or 027 227 7736. Talent ID are Recruitment Specialists and can support you through your recruitment process.

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