You’ve probably heard that it’s more expensive to hire a new employee than it is to retain a current one, but as organizations struggle to recruit new candidates during The Great Attrition, this couldn’t be truer. While the cost of losing a team member varies depending on their level of experience, wages, and the industry they work in, The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that companies typically spend six to nine months of an employee’s salary to recruit, hire, and train a replacement.

For example, it could cost between $30,000 and $45,000 to replace a team member with a salary of $60,000 per year. To top it off, when one employee leaves a company, it often has a ripple effect. According to a study conducted by Officevibe, 70% of employees claim having a friend at work is the most crucial element to a happy work life.

In my last article, Recruiting and Hiring During the Great Attrition, we explored the top reasons people are leaving the workforce, the industries that have been affected the most, and ways to recruit top talent. This time around, we’re zeroing in on what people are actually looking for in their jobs, exploring the five key employee personas, and sharing tips to help you support your team during this time.

What are employees looking for in their jobs?

Whether you’re looking to retain your current workforce or attract new talent, it’s more important now than ever to pay attention to what people are actually looking for in an employer. The dynamic between companies and candidates today has shifted the job interview process to one where both the organization and the person applying for work are evaluating each other.

So, how can you entice employees to work for your company? Here are the biggest motivating factors that keep people in jobs, according to McKinsey & Company:

  • Meaningfulness of work
  • Total compensation
  • Workplace flexibility
  • Career development and advancement opportunities
  • Support for health and wellbeing
  • Sustainability of workplace expectations

Read More: Recruiting and Hiring During the Great Attrition

Understanding the five common employee personas

While understanding the most common elements employees need to be satisfied with their jobs is a great place to start, it’s important to recognize that career goals, needs, wants, and aspirations vary from one person to the next.

However, grouping like-minded employees together can help you identify some of the patterns that may be prevalent in your team so you can develop a workplace that’s better suited to their success and happiness.

According to McKinsey & Company, there are five key employee personas to pay attention to if you want to attract and retain a diverse workforce: the traditionalists, the do-it-yourselfers, the idealists, the caregivers, and the relaxers. Here’s an overview of each of these personas:

The Traditionalists

Consider your ideal employee. Someone who is motivated by the standard offerings companies have included in their benefits packages for the last decade: a steady paycheck, healthcare, and a great retirement plan. The traditionalists are the first group of people hiring managers often consider when it’s time to start recruiting.

These are the team members who didn’t quit their jobs during the pandemic and if they were let go amidst the uncertainty we all had to navigate, they likely moved into another similar job soon after. Traditionalists are dependable and tend to be motivated by the same things that motivated them before the pandemic:

  • A clear path to advancement
  • Inspirational leaders
  • Enjoyable colleagues

So, if the traditionalists are so great, why bother focusing on the other four personas? As Bonnie Dowling, Expert Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company, puts it “they may be easy to attract, they may be easy to recruit, but if there are not enough of them, you can’t depend on filling your gaps with only them.”

Survey your current team to identify who your traditionalists are. Then pay close attention to these individuals by ensuring they understand the career advancement opportunities your organization has available for them. Having regular conversations about their work performance, achievements, and career goals can help you retain the traditionalists you already have on your team.

Related: Work Environment Post-COVID

The Do-It-Yourselfers

Cue the largest group of individuals in our current workforce: the do-it-yourselfers. These are the people who decided to venture out on their own to become contractors, freelancers, or business owners.

According to Zety, there are approximately 59 million gig workers in the United States, and that number is only expected to grow. Statista reports that we could see as many as 85.6 million freelancers in the United States by 2027.

You may even have people on your team today who identify with the do-it-yourselfer persona. Are there any team members who always seem to have a side hustle, have exceptional business and leadership skills, and seek to find meaning in the projects they take on? This is a group of talented individuals that can propel your organization forward if you provide them with the right incentives to stick around.

Do-it-yourselfers tend to be between the ages of 25 and 45 years old and what motivates them is very different from what motivates the traditionalists. They’re looking for meaningful work, competitive compensation, and flexibility. Bringing do-it-yourselfers back into traditional job roles can be a challenge if they’ve already departed your organization. After all, how can you prove you’re a better boss to someone than they are?

One place to start is by offering a full benefits package with unique add-ons, like pet insurance or paid volunteer days off. Consider what types of bonuses your company may be able to offer that a new business owner or freelancer might be unable to provide for themselves.

In addition to this, flexibility is key, but it needs to go beyond having the freedom to choose where to work. While having remote options is a great place to start, the Do-It-Yourselfers are also used to choosing when and how they work. Establish clear key performance indicators for your team that allow you to track their progress while enabling them to determine the best way to complete the goals and tasks at hand.

Related: 5 Tips to Become a Resilient Leader

The Caregivers

While the first people you might think of as caregivers on your team are parents, there are a growing number of people who have stepped into this role to support aging family members. The caregiver persona is predominantly made up of women ages 18 to 44. These are the folks on your team who are juggling childcare, doctor appointments, and other household tasks on top of the responsibilities they have at work.

While many caregivers enjoy the sense of purpose they get from having a career, it can be challenging to maintain a sense of balance. They require a flexible schedule that allows them to be there for their family members when needed.

Caregivers who don’t have this flexibility often exit the workforce after weighing the costs of childcare or homecare for their loved ones.

“If you think about things like the skyrocketing cost of childcare and how it became so unreliable over the course of the pandemic, and then you think about how many employers have punitive policies in place if you’re tardy or have an absence, it starts to not have the right ROI,” Dowling explains.

Whether you have caregivers on your team today or you’re looking to recruit from this pool of candidates, there are a few things you can do to make working for your organization more attractive. Consider adding specific benefits for parents, guardians, and caregivers, such as increased provisions for childcare or an on-site daycare facility.

Other unique options some companies are starting to offer include stipends for house cleaning and landscaping benefits to take some of the burden off of working caregivers.

“It turns out that there’s a lot of things we do outside of work that don’t give us a great sense of fulfillment or pleasure or joy,” Dowling points out. If there are opportunities for your company to take some of these responsibilities off of your employees’ plates to allow them to focus on the work that needs to be done, it’s a win for everyone.

Related: 5 Upcoming Trends for Female Entrepreneurs and Innovators

The Idealist

Typically between the ages of 18 and 24, the Idealists make up the youngest working demographic. Many of them are students who may be working part-time while they go to school or pursue their passions. This makes jobs that are flexible more attractive to an entire generation who is currently entering the workforce.

“Gen Z, or the digital natives, are really thoughtful about the work-life balance piece… They want to live and have a job,” Dowling explains.

Purpose is also very important to this group, so finding ways to imbue meaning into the work they do is an excellent motivator, especially if there’s a social or environmental impact.

While it may seem unlikely, idealists and traditionalists do share some similarities, including the desire to develop and advance throughout their careers. Make sure these members of your team can see a clear career path and have opportunities to grow with your organization to retain them long-term. 

The Relaxers

According to Forbes, two-thirds of the folks leaving their jobs in August 2021 weren’t actually ‘quitting.’ They were retiring. While the relaxers might not be the first demographic you think to retain or recruit, these are highly skilled individuals who have years of experience that can provide value to your organization.

Additionally, it’s important to note that the size of our workforce is simply not the same as it was in 2019. At this time, there are not enough people in the workforce to fill the number of jobs we have openings for in the United States. That means employers need to broaden their pool of candidates and find ways to bring people who may not be actively looking for jobs back in.

While the relaxers typically aren’t as motivated by compensation, they are motivated by the idea of leaving behind a legacy. These are purpose-driven individuals who want to enjoy what they do, which means it’s even better if they can work alongside their friends.

Providing flexible, part-time opportunities for this group of people to rejoin or stay involved in the workforce is an excellent way to make sure the knowledge and skills they’ve garnered throughout their careers are not lost.

As The Great Attrition continues, we must ask ourselves how we can broaden our employee value proposition to encompass different types of people coming in. Recognizing that not all job candidates are looking for the same types of benefits, perks, or career opportunities is a step in the right direction for employers. Using these five key personas can help you understand what different members of your team need to feel valued and fulfilled as well as help you refresh your recruitment efforts to reach a wider pool of job seekers.

In my next article, we’ll explore tips for creating an engaged workforce and why it’s important to provide inspirational leadership, so stay tuned!

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