South Africa

What candidates really want in their new positions

Mike Patterson
Managing Executive:
talentCRU | DAV | Kelly
4 mins

Is your organisation ‘selling’ what top talent is buying? With the war on talent and skills shortages hitting new heights post pandemic, it’s critical for employers to understand what candidates are looking for. Why is this so important? The only way to optimise your business’s talent attraction strategy and to retain top talent is to know what employees really want. 


Here are four key issues topping candidate lists when it comes to choosing a new position – and a new employer.


1. Well-being and flexibility are a priority

Work life balance is not a new topic, but it has risen in priority since the pandemic. In fact, a recent Gallup survey found that pay and wellbeing-related issues have both seen significant boosts in recent years, securing their spots as the first and second reasons why candidates would accept a job elsewhere.   


Burn-out, stress, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed are just some of the negative impacts the pandemic and successive lockdowns have had on workforces around the world. In South Africa, challenging economic conditions and related uncertainties have compounded a global phenomenon.


However, hybrid working, flexible work-from-home policies and even remote work options that allow top talent to choose to live outside of traditional city centres have opened new possibilities for top talent and they all point towards the ability to have greater work-life balance. With this potential available, and many employers now offering it, it is quickly becoming an expectation. 


Employees are choosing to move to new companies and job positions if flexibility is available. Some organisations offer more flexibility than others, and some are still navigating what their hybrid models will look like, but one thing is clear – the businesses that are embracing new ways of working because they understand that hybrid and flexible models are possible are already winning the war on talent.


2. Pay is – and will always be – important

We all love to believe that pay is not the most important factor for employees. This isn’t the case. True, it is not the only factor, and employees who earn high salaries will quickly leave their jobs if they don’t have work life balance, the benefits are poor or if the organisation’s culture and values are a complete misalignment to their own, but when it comes to accepting a position, pay remains extremely important. In fact, for 64% of Gallup respondents, it’s ‘very important.’ 


So, what does this mean for employers? First, it’s important to understand how the market currently values different positions. If you are not offering competitive salaries, candidates will look elsewhere. Working with a top recruitment partner is an excellent way to ensure your business is on top of current trends and salary ranges.


Second, and perhaps more importantly, accept that it is a job seeker’s market, and top employees are very aware of this fact. Job seekers have the confidence to ask for more pay, and they are flexing those muscles.


3. People want to find meaning in their work

One of the biggest reasons why talented people leave their jobs is because they are no longer stimulated. McKinsey’s 2022 Great Attrition, Great Attraction 2.0 global survey found that 41% of respondents left their jobs because of a lack of career development and advancement and 31% because of a lack of meaningful work. 


It goes without saying that if an employee is willing to leave a job because they no longer feel challenged or as though they are making a meaningful contribution to their workplace, clients or community, that a position that offers all of the above will be attractive.


One way to ensure you are attracting and retaining talent is by ensuring that you give them the ability, tools and space to do what they do best. When people are able to do work that aligns with their skills and experience, they will not only enjoy what they do, but they will feel stimulated and as though they are contributing as well. This requires two fundamental things. First make sure that job roles clearly match the candidate’s abilities while also giving them room to grow. Recruiters must also be able to discover what excites a candidate and what their values are. Next, it’s important to let employees do what they do best. Hiring someone and then preventing them from using their strengths is a sure way to lose them to a more enticing position. 


4. Stability and job security are essential 

We might be in the middle of the ‘Great Resignation’, but that does not mean that job security is no longer important. Candidates are not leaving their employers to take positions that do not offer some degree of security. However, it’s important to understand what ‘security’ and ‘stability’ mean in today’s context. 


The instability and uncertainties of the pandemic resulted in the afore mentioned stress and anxiety that so many workers have experienced. One of the biggest panaceas to uncertainty, however, is trusted leadership. A leadership team that communicates regularly and transparently gives employees the critical impression that their leaders care about them – which results in feelings of security.


Again, this is echoed by McKinsey’s research, with the 2022 Great Attrition, Great Attraction 2.0 global survey revealing that 34% of employees left their jobs due to uncaring leadership. 


Pulling it all together

Ultimately, it is up to every organisation to focus on their employee value proposition (EVP) so that they can sell themselves to potential job candidates. This requires understanding and addressing the motivators behind leaving positions and choosing new employers. Working hand in hand with an established recruitment specialist will not only help you navigate an employee’s market, but become an employer brand of choice.  

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Managing Executive:
talentCRU | DAV | Kelly

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