A recent headline hailed 2014 as the "Year of the Employee." After five years of the U.S. being beset by budget-cutting, layoffs and asking workers to do more (or at least the same amount of work) with less, Forbes contributor Josh Bersin predicts that the balance of power will shift from the organization to employees.
"High-performing employees will start to exert control," Bersin writes. "Top people with key skills (engineering, math, life sciences, energy) will be in short supply. Thanks to the U.S. healthcare laws, people will feel more free to change jobs. And companies who can’t engage and attract Millennials will lose out."
Moreover, employees will again be looking for more than just a job; they will be seeking meaningful work. They will desire more opportunities to learn and grow. All the while, they will want balance between their professional and personal lives—working to live, not living to work. These are but a few ways employees may exert more control in the year ahead.
Employers must understand and adapt to the reality that, in 2014, employees will again have a simple but powerful tool: choice. So, what does your organization offer to help workers make that choice? What differentiates you? What is your brand as an employer? In a more competitive job market, HR professionals must utilize every available tool to get and keep the best employees.
New Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) research shows that employers may be underutilizing at least one effective tool. Our 2013 State of Employee Benefits in the Workplace survey findings revealed that, while many employers had difficulty recruiting and retaining employees, only a quarter touted benefits such as wellness initiatives and flexible work arrangements. Yet, with wages holding fairly steady since the recession, benefits have taken on new importance, and employers would do well to consider a "total rewards" approach to attracting top talent.
It is an approach we take to heart at SHRM. Recently, our Alexandria, Va.-based headquarters was named one of Washingtonian magazine’s Great Places to Work for 2013. SHRM was recognized for such factors as competitive pay and benefits, challenging and interesting work, great work/life balance, professional development opportunities, financial stability, commitment to charity and community, and the recognition and respect given to employees. This acknowledgment is a reflection of our workplace values: What we do matters. Our people matter. And our culture matters.
As HR professionals, you can help drive business success by building great places to work—places where top talent is motivated to come and to stay. The pages of this month’s issue of HR Magazine are rich with information to help, from our special report on benefits—including articles addressing rising health care costs and preparing employees for retirement—to our Q&A with Dr. David Posen about how HR can alleviate workplace stress.
It remains to be seen if 2014 will be the Year of the Employee, but our organizations will be better-served if we prepare as if it will be and strive to become employers of choice.