It’s no secret that the current workforce is more demanding than ever before. Professionals are looking for an array of factors in their EVP (employee value proposition) and organisations are having to do a lot more to attract and retain the very best talent. At the same time, the rise in flexible working has created extra challenges for HR teams which must now be able to balance the needs of both full time and flexible staff. So how do businesses find and keep the best professionals in a challenging, modern environment?

For many people, the immediate answer to that question would be ‘more money’. However, recent research from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) has found that financial compensation is often secondary to emotional factors in terms of workforce motivators with ‘job enjoyment’ listed as the top influence. This is an important finding for HR teams who must now realise that while money is obviously still key  for many professionals, ensuring staff are satisfied by their work should be the number one priority for businesses.

However, job satisfaction  will be different depending on our circumstances and make up. It can include a healthy work/life balance or good mix between co-workers, or it could relate to more complex factors such as personality type, management style, career preferences, development needs and expectations in the workplace. While some of these factors can’t be controlled or shaped by HR teams, it’s possible to manage the creation of a healthy culture that helps to create an environment where talent can enjoy their day-to-day work.  One of the simplest ways to do this is to give individuals greater power over their career progression. By allowing professionals to work closely with senior figures in the business it will ensure they feel valued and empowered. Another benefit is that it aligns the individual’s development with the wider business strategy of the company, which can only be a positive step.

The above factors make the £36.9bn that was spent on performance bonuses in the UK last year questionable in terms of key talent retention. After all we can all cite instances where staff wait for a onus payout and then leave for pastures new. HR teams must now realise financial compensation is secondary to employee happiness and tailor their strategy accordingly. Providing regular feedback on performance and giving professionals more control are just two of the (much cheaper) ways HR teams can improve company culture and therefore build on their staff retention. Not doing this creates the risk of developing a culture where people are only there to get paid, which will never be good for staff engagement and will only damage productivity and the bottom line.

Do you believe company culture is more important than pay?

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