Retaining Talent in 2022: What are candidates looking for?

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

If you’re not offering what candidates want, it’s never been easier for them to look for it elsewhere.

Leif Radford, Associate Director at The Candidate, explores precisely how businesses can retain talent beyond salary, perks or power.

The Candidate is sponsoring this year’s Top 75 Tech & Ecommerce List, which will be revealed at a special event on November 18th featuring talks from tech leaders including Steve Oliver of musicMagpie. Book your place today.

 

It’s no secret that recruiting and then retaining staff at the moment is a bigger challenge than it’s ever been. According to the ONS, the number of vacancies in the UK recently rose above one million for the first time since records began in 2001.

Industries such as tech, data and digital were already candidate-short markets, meaning we now have an unprecedentedly competitive recruitment landscape.

A recent report from Monster found that 82% of employers were planning to hire in 2021. With so much competition for candidates, if you aren’t offering what they’re looking for, it’s never been easier for them to find it elsewhere. Which leads us to the question: What are candidates looking for?

 

In the post-pandemic world, we’ve all had time to take a step back and reassess exactly that. Working life as we knew it has been flipped on its head, giving us the chance to experience things previously only afforded to the very slickest boutique marketing agencies - see entirely remote working. In short, we’ve seen behind the curtain and life will never be the same.

As specialists in the industry, we took the opportunity to undertake some research to try and find out what the most important factors were for candidates working in tech, data and digital. The results were quite surprising.

It seems the age-old recruitment adage that people only move for money or power hasn’t been able to withstand COVID.

 

Our research found that ‘work-life balance’ and ‘company culture’ were consistently rated as more important than factors such as salary, perks, or career growth. In fact, 42% of the 300 people we spoke to rated having a positive work-life balance as the number one factor they desire from their job.

If these are the factors we’re being told are the most important, then they’re the areas you need to ensure you are delivering to attract new talent, retain the team you already have, and stop them from being drawn elsewhere.

There’s just one problem. ‘Work-life balance’ and ‘company culture’ are ambiguous and subjective, which doesn’t bode well for embedding them into a business strategy.

In the interest of pursuing something a little more tangible, we used our research to better understand what candidates actually mean when they talk about work-life balance and company culture.

Workplace culture

When we asked the question: “What does workplace culture actually mean to you?”, the two answers which were by far the most common were “shared beliefs/mentality” and the “relationships between staff.”

It’s human nature to want to be part of a group - we’re instinctively social creatures - but these replies are deeper than that. In any workplace you could say the employees are a team, but it’s evident we want to feel like we’re part of a team that has strong interpersonal bonds between like-minded peers. A true team works together because they want to, not because it’s their contractual obligation.

If you want your staff to thrive, encourage collaboration, openness, and support to foster a culture they want to be part of.

Work-life balance

Work-life balance has become a hot topic over recent years, which has only been accelerated by the pandemic forcing us to trial remote working. After 18 months of working from home - or living at work as it’s sometimes felt - we’ve been able to adapt how and when we work more than ever.

So what do we mean by work-life balance in the context of tech, digital and data? It means acknowledging we all have unique, and sometimes quite demanding, personal circumstances - whether it’s family commitments, physical or mental health conditions, or simply slightly alternative ways of working.

If taking a longer lunch to go out with the dog because your head is fried means you can come back and give the afternoon your all, then why not? If using the time you’d usually have spent commuting to start work early means you can pick your children up from school, then why not?

It ultimately boils down to flexibility. By trusting your staff and allowing them to have the freedom to work in a way that suits their needs, you make them feel valued as an individual.

How can we apply this insight to help retain talent in 2022?

In short: If you want to retain your staff, make them feel part of a team they can believe in, and recognise their unique needs and circumstances as an individual.

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