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flexible schedules and remote work arrangements strongly attract talent to employers, research finds.

20th annual Randstad Employer Brand Research affirms the appeal of non-monetary employment benefits in a COVID-19 world of work.

May 13, 2020 — Non-monetary benefits such as flexible hours, working from home and better job security are some of the most powerful tools employers can use to attract and retain talent for their organization, according to the 20th edition of the Randstad Employer Brand Research, which was conducted at the beginning of the year. And in the current global COVID-19 crisis, these employee value propositions are likely to gain more significance in the year ahead.

Although the research concluded in January – conducted through a global survey of working-age adults – its findings align with the new way of working around the world. With many organizations still under lockdown, and others operating facilities with limited resources or just coming online, adapting their workforce through more flexible schedules and remote arrangements has become the new normal. Furthermore, with unemployment spiking in virtually every market, having job security appears to be much more important to workers.

“Amid the disruption and economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, each of these factors has become even more relevant than ever to workers,” said Jos Schut, Randstad’s Chief Human Resources Officer. “Even before the crisis unfolded, our research indicated a gradual shift in worker preference for more flexibility and remote arrangements. The pandemic will simply accelerate these trends and lead employers to adapt to a new world of work.”

Year after year, the survey shows an attractive salary and benefits are the single most important factor for choosing an employer, but with unemployment and business instability rising, non-monetary considerations are expected to gain importance. The research found that flexible working hours were highly desired by 79% of respondents, while 72% value being able to work from home. Nearly half (44%) said job security is one of the most important factors when choosing an employer – the third-most appealing quality after salary & benefits and a good work-life balance.

Despite the global economic contraction, hiring and workforce mobility haven’t completely stopped, and data from the Randstad Employer Brand Research provides valuable insights into what makes a company an attractive place to work. Although the world has transformed since the data collection ended, much of the insights collected remain relevant and can help employers build their brand during and after the pandemic.

The data also indicates there is an immense misalignment between what workers desire in an ideal employer and what they currently receive. Respondents who worked for the largest organizations in their market said their workplace mostly did not deliver on their top desires with one exception: job security, which was the No. 1 attribute they perceived as having with their current employer. Companies that fail to address this disconnect may find it more difficult to acquire critical talent.

IT and communications (ITC) remains most attractive

With technology serving a critical role during the lockdown, the sector’s appeal is strengthening. Even before the outbreak, ITC was perceived as the most attractive sector for employment, followed by fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and automotive. Now, as digital tools become more important to businesses, the sector has become a linchpin for accelerating the journey back to work.

20 years into the digital age

Since the beginning of the digital age 20 years ago, working and communications have shifted immensely, aided by an acceleration in technologies. The Randstad Employer Brand Research confirms that despite this transformation, foundational qualities that draw great talent to an organization remain unchanged. An attractive salary and benefits, a good work-life balance and job security are perennially the most appealing employee value propositions. Ironically, even in a world driven by digital innovation, the data shows an employer’s use of the latest technologies is only the 10th most important factor when choosing an employer.

results vary by region and age

While the top attraction factor (compensation & benefits) remains consistent across all regions, the second-most appealing factor differs by region. In North America and Asia Pacific,work-life balance is highly valued (45 and 47% respectively), while in the Commonwealth of Independent States, the financial health of the employer is critical (58%). Across Europe, a pleasant work atmosphere (51%) is second-most important, but in Latin America it’s career progression (52%).

The generational divide is also apparent through the research, with Gen Z valuing a pleasant work environment (42%) over job security (36%). On the other hand, a good work-life balance is second-most important (after salaries) to Gen X (47%) and millennials (44%). Boomers continue to desire a good salary and benefits but want shorter commuting times (49%).

about the research

The Randstad Employer Brand Research is the most comprehensive, independent and in-depth employer brand research in the world, identifying the most attractive employers among thousands of companies. The research captures the views of some 185,000 respondents (general public, aged 18-64) on 6,136 companies in 33 markets. It provides insights into the perceptions and drivers of choice of potential employees. Why do people prefer one company, or a specific industry, over another? What motivates them to stay with an employer or start looking elsewhere? The research, conducted since 2000, was done by Randstad’s international research partner Kantar. Respondents for the 2020 research were polled between December 2019 and January 2020.

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