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For many businesses the attraction and retention of talent is a key consideration and indeed concern

By Sarah McDonough | April 7, 2022

Employee Experience (EX) is key to attraction and retention of employees. We delve into the drivers of EX and specifically how they relate to People, Purpose, Work and Total Rewards.
Employee Engagement |Future of Work|Employee Experience|Ukupne nagrade |Ευεξία

For many if not most businesses the attraction and retention of talent is a key consideration and indeed concern, as a sense of normality hopefully returns to our economy and society.

Our recent WTW Reimagining Work and Rewards Survey found that 70% of companies globally expect difficulties in attracting talent in 2022, a figure that was only 37% in 2020.

We are also seeing businesses under pressure in terms of retaining talent with 61% anticipating difficulties in keeping employees this year, up from just 27% in 2020. So, what can companies do as they attempt to re-adjust to life after the pandemic?

Based on our global and local insights in Ireland, we see Employee Experience as being the key to attraction and retention. While it is a broad concept, we understand the drivers of Employee Experience and they specifically relate to People, Purpose, Work and Total Rewards. So, let’s consider some aspects that can influence an Employee’s experience at work.

Firstly, remote or hybrid working in some form is now a given for most. As such, when we look at skills and retention, many employees will actively consider and choose a hybrid option (i.e. part time on-site, part time at home / remote), potentially determining where they work, and for whom. Therefore, rather than viewing remote working as a short-term need, businesses in Ireland should ideally view it as part of their Employee Experience and consider it an opportunity to attract and retain talent by offering choice in the long term.

Another opportunity for businesses is to implement a diverse and inclusive range of benefits. We see that employers who are progressive and adaptive in their benefits offering are successful in attracting and retaining talent. Today many companies look to cater for modern lifestyles, offering diverse benefits in parental allowance, family planning, wellbeing and mindfulness to name a few examples. Our most recent WTW Salary Budget Planning report found that that 88% of companies in Ireland reported having some form of health care benefits but only 31% of organisations said that they will conduct a benefits review in light of remote working. For those forward-thinking businesses, looking at what employees want today and, in the future, will be the key to defining and differentiating attractive benefits.

Another key area of focus for businesses when it comes to talent is that of diversity and inclusion. Looking at gender in the first instance, the Gender Pay Gap (GPG) Information Act which was recently announced and comes into effect this year in Ireland is of vital importance in terms of retaining and attracting talent. The regulations will require organisations with over 250 employees to report on their gender pay gap in 2022 and those organisations that report a gap will be required to detail how they will address it. In addition to preparing for gender pay gap reporting, organisations in Ireland are also having to prepare for the Directive on Pay Transparency which is expected to come into effect within the next two years. It is anticipated that the Directive will not only require reporting on an organisational level, but also by job grouping, with increased transparency for employees on salary ranges and their pay position.

Businesses that can show a neutral work environment that offers opportunity for all can differentiate themselves from those that are viewed to be less progressive and ultimately, discriminatory. It is important to note that many businesses may have a GPG of some level, the key will be for businesses to be proactive and show that they are tangibly working to address it.

Looking broadly at retention and development, we would encourage employers to establish a ‘skills architecture’ that will enable them to deploy talent across the business in a more agile and efficient manner. This offers individuals greater opportunity to develop their skills and enhances the overall Employee Experience. Key to this will be for businesses to consider the skills that they need to strengthen their workforce (and not just capacity and numbers), adding diversity of thought and perspective that will enable growth at both an individual and organisational level.

Finally, when we consider Employee Experience it is important for businesses to prioritise their salary budget planning. While employees are looking for a holistic suite of benefits, salary is and will remain a core consideration as part of the ‘Total Reward’ offering.

When looking to 2022, our latest Salary Budget Planning research showed that employers in Ireland are planning to give their staff an annual average salary increase of 3% this year. While broadly in line with other countries, interestingly we found that 46% of employers in Ireland are now projecting a higher salary budget for this year when compared to 2021 and 28% stated that that they have had to revise their original projected budget for 2022, increasing the amount allocated to salary. This shows not only the focus on salary but also concerns among many businesses of a highly competitive market.

Recruitment and retention have always been areas of concern for businesses, and it is important for employers not to be overwhelmed, where possible focusing on the entire Employee Experience they offer at work rather than short-term reactive measures. The approach to Employee Experience and provision of benefits should be tailored and meet the needs of an individual business, but regardless of size or sector those employers who take a strategic and inclusive approach will benefit the most.


Employee Experience Leader, UK & Ireland

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