The palpable need for a values-led approach to recruitment
Paul Polman conducted a poll of 4,000 employees across the United States and United Kingdom which investigated the plurality of opinions held by workers towards the workplace. This article summarizes Paul Polman’s 2023 net positive barometer & why it shows companies the palpable need to take a values-led approach to recruitment.
Employer values and the impact they have on the world are transforming employee appeal and heavily influencing staff retention.
There is no doubt that employees want better pay, more flexibility, and higher well-being, as evidenced by numerous studies (this should be rather obvious to senior leaders). The danger of relying on these methods alone when thinking about staff attraction and retention is that it fails to look at the bigger picture. In these studies, employees are often viewed as simply workers rather than human-beings. The current state of the world proves these studies to be extremely outdated. Many people nowadays seek meaning and fulfilment over money and flexibility, so viewing your staff simply as workers is not good enough.
We are currently living in a time in which there are severe threats to people's health, happiness, and safety from the likes of pandemics, war, global warming, economic unrest, and social division. Clover Hogan, a 23-year-old climate activist stated to Paul that for many of her generation especially, “despair feeds despair. We’re worried about the economy, the planet, our societies – all of it. It makes young people ask themselves: what am I really doing with my life? Why am I wasting time on a job or company I don’t care about?”
Some of the key findings are presented below:
- The majority want to work for a company that is trying to have a positive impact on the world (66% UK, 76% US).
- Around two out of three people say that current efforts by businesses do not go far enough in addressing environmental and societal issues (68% UK, 62% US).
- Almost two out of three employees say their company should take a stronger stance on economic inequality (61% UK, 65% US).
- Almost half of UK employees (45%) and over a third of US employees (39%) believe that business leaders are only driven by their own gain.
- Nearly half of employees say they would consider resigning from their job if the values of the company did not align with their own values (45% UK, 51% US).
- A third say that they have previously resigned from a position for this reason. (35% in both the UK and US). This number rises significantly among Gen Z & Millennials employees (48% UK, 44% US).
- Nearly half of Gen Z and Millennials would consider taking a pay cut in order to work for a company that shares their values (48% UK, 44% US).
- More than half of UK and US employees want to have a greater role in helping their company change for the better (53% UK, 60% US).
- It’s even higher for Millennials and Gen Z (64% UK, 66% US).
To summarize, the message from thousands of employees is loud and clear: the majority want to work for companies that share their values and are taking action on some of the world’s biggest issues, in addition to thinking about their financial needs and personal wellbeing (none of which should be minimized). When organizations don’t uphold their values/align their values with employees’, many say they are ready to resign, and many already have.
Any CEO who believes they will win the talent war by providing a little bit more money, some additional flexibility and a gym membership will be let down. A day of ‘conscious quitting’ has already begun.
On the flip side, there is plenty of opportunity to win the talent war here. The clear and obvious learning from Paul’s study is that companies need to take into consideration what is important to their employees. Businesses that act on this will increase retention rates dramatically.
I would recommend any team leader to understand and speak with their team in order to figure out what their team values are. Do this rather than using the set business values that have been there since the start. This exercise is also useful as a sales team (for example) might have different values to the rest of the business. You should do this as a continuous exercise so that you keep up to date on what is important to your colleagues.
Once discovered, find ways of putting these values into practice as a team/business. It should also be critical to use values in your recruitment processes. As we can see from this study, when personal and company values align, everybody wins and it de-risks the hiring process! Of course, skill-set is still of huge importance. However, if you recruit someone with the right skill-set but with values that do not align, there can be a magnitude of consequences.
For a more comprehensive overview of Paul Polman’s study, please find a link to the report here:
If you would like a further conversation around values and how to build them into your hiring processes, please get in touch: email@example.com / 07717666037.