A mass exodus from jobs fueled by burnout, compensation, competition, and turnover have created previously unthinkable situations for employers, with many now scrambling to retain the talent they have on hand.

But amidst all the chaos is a pivotal moment, and a question: What types of structures, policies and treatments would we like to see in our workplaces going forward, and how can we use this opportunity to shape the future of work for decades to come?

In the hopes of getting answers to those questions and more, NationSwell Council member Lydia Loizides, president and founder of Talentedly, started a body of work in 2021, in collaboration with the NationSwell Council that has grown as the future of work rapidly evolves. Lydia has run surveys with leaders from the NationSwell Council two years in a row, followed most recently by a conversation on May 25th with NationSwell’s community of cross-sector and cross-industry leaders. 

During our May 25 working group, members reviewed the results of the 122 organizations and leaders who responded to the 2022 survey and discussed what workers should be advocating for in service of creating happier, hybrid, and holistic workplaces– and how employers can anticipate what will attract and retain talent in an increasingly competitive market.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the survey and resulting discussion.

Employers are already offering flexible work schedules, but what workers want most is better compensation.

Over 76% of respondents said that their employers had begun offering remote work possibilities as a benefit to increase job satisfaction, and the same percentage said that employers had also worked to improve their communication strategies in order to better communicate the company’s vision, business strategy and more. But when asked which benefits they thought employees should be offering to help employees cope during the pandemic, 46.7% of respondents said better compensation — something only about half of respondents said their company was already offering.

A surprising number of respondents said that their employers were already engaging in “open hiring” practices

Of those surveyed, 36 respondents said that their company was already utilizing “open hiring” — an inclusive recruiting method whereby prospective employees add their name to a list rather than submitting a traditional resume and cover letter. Crucially, open hiring models also omit the background checks and interviews that other companies usually require, eliminating critical points where human bias and discrimination can typical seep into the hiring process.

Most respondents agreed that employers should provide low or no cost access to formal education.

Of the respondents surveyed, 55% said that they believed that employers should provide at least some form of educational access to employees. Certain companies have already modeled how this might be possible: Starbucks, for example, offers employees the option to enroll in the Starbucks College Achievement Plan (SCAP), which enables U.S. employees the opportunity to earn their first-time bachelor’s degree with the company paying for 100% of their tuition.

With high schools currently suffering massive dropout rates as a result of the pandemic, the ability to recapture workers into non-traditional education pipelines will likely become an increasingly critical point of discussion.

Burnout is still affecting employees’ willingness to stay at their jobs — but there’s a catch

Although pandemic-induced feelings of burnout and overwhelm are still dogging workers and fueling high turnover rates, those rates are often influenced by workers having a positive outlook and also perceiving their employer as being an active listener, their turnover intention goes down and they are more likely to be collaborative organizationally.

Job credentialing needs a facelift

Responses to a question about whether non-college credentials were just as valuable to their employers as a college degree were scattershot, suggesting that a very specific perception of education as it relates to capability in the workforce still exists.

There was, however, a strong agreement among respondents that certain skills, including critical thinking and adaptability, tend to be more important than certain hard skills in ensuring day-to-day success on the job.

The perception of the biggest threats to job security over the next 25 years include education, automation, and public policy.

When asked what they believed the biggest threats to job security would be in five years vs. 25 years, respondents included post-secondary and K-12 education, AI automation and technology, and public policy — particularly as it relates to the urban/rural divide.

The NationSwell Council community brings together a diverse, curated community of bold individuals and organizations leading the way in social, economic, and environmental problem-solving. Learn more about the Council here.