Combating a Job Seekers Market in 2022

As the new year begins companies need to examine how the last year went and what changes they may need to make throughout the year.

Looking back, 2021 brought major changes that created waves in the U.S. labor market. Workers quit and switched jobs at a record pace, the economy staged a strong rebound nearly six times faster than the last recession, and employers embraced remote and hybrid work in a big way. The employer/employee dynamic dramatically shifted as the social contract of work was re-written during the pandemic.

For the first time in decades, employees were in the driver’s seat, demanding more favorable terms from employers. In 2021, companies saw job seekers become extremely choosy, applying to a more selective range of roles, getting hired more quickly, and driving a harder bargain with employers. The burning question on the minds of employers and employees alike is whether these changes are pandemic era features or permanent changes that will forever reshape how we work.

In 2022, companies should expect it to remain a job seeker’s market.

According to a 2021 LinkedIn survey, good work-life balance is a job hunters’ highest priority. Job seekers are demanding more work-life balance, the freedom to work where and when they want, and the support and empathy of their employer. These needs are currently outweighing even excellent compensation and benefits.

How can you combat this job seekers market while retaining and finding talent? Ultimately by moving to a human-center culture where work is built around their employees’ lives and not the other way around.

Here are a couple of ideas on how to switch to a human-centered culture.

Offer flexibility

The old way of working where employees show up in an office and work from 9 to 5 is history. After nearly two years of remote and hybrid work, employees want to maintain their freedom.

However, some jobs can’t be done remotely, meaning many workers will miss out on the options offered to their peers. To address this problem many companies are providing job shares, compressed workweeks, and other scheduling choices to make sure all their workers are being treated fairly.

LinkedIn data shows that flexibility has become a key determinant of employee satisfaction. Workers are 2.6 times more likely to report being happy and 2.1 times more likely to recommend working at a company when they can choose their location and their work schedules.

Giving team members more ownership over their daily routine and productivity demonstrates trust in your team, helping them develop their time management skills. Providing tools such as time-tracking apps is a great way to help team members manage their focus autonomously.

But flex work, if not handled carefully, can also hurt company culture. With employees working in different locations, employers will have to work hard to nurture and sustain bonds.

Focus on employee wellness

Forced lockdowns broke down the walls between work and home life, giving employers better visibility into their employees’ lives. With stress levels rising, employers are concerned about worker burnout. Employees who feel overworked or stressed typically don’t do their best jobs and can end up affecting the entire team.

At the same time, employees have come to expect more than health insurance and yoga classes. Millennial and Gen Z workers are demanding that their bosses focus on their mental health. Workers overall want to feel like their boss cares about them. LinkedIn data shows when employees feel cared about at work, they’re 3.2 times more likely to be happy at their job and 3.7 times more likely to recommend their company as a place to work.

This increased focus on physical and emotional well-being has led to major changes in company culture. Employees are being treated to mental health therapists on demand. Employers are giving employees the gift of time in the form of no-meeting days and company-wide shutdowns. Most important, forward-thinking organizations are no longer celebrating workaholics and the 1 a.m. hero.

For companies that fail to reinvent their cultures, much is at stake.

To gain a competitive edge, employers will have to refine their employer branding messages to ensure they match workers’ current priorities. Job postings that advertise challenging work, hypergrowth, and unicorn ambitions are becoming less of a draw, while those that pitch flexibility, inclusive benefits, and internal mobility rates are becoming more attractive.