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The Top 5 Employee Wants for 2020

Published on: 10 Mar 2020


ManpowerGroup has undertaken a multi-national primary research project to understand the needs and wants of employees in 2020. The survey looked at many of the usual motivational aspects of an employee’s job. The results will challenge the way businesses engage with their staff in 2020!

Download a full research here


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The first important factor to acknowledge is that what workers want will vary by age, gender and the stage in their career lifecycle. More pay, flexibility and challenging work are non-negotiables to all. However, there are additional levers employers pull to attract and retain in-demand and diverse talent.


What Are the Top 5 Employee Wants for 2020?


1. Pay Always Matters – But How It’s Delivered Matters More

Pay is the Top Attraction and Retention Factor for all workers. Companies must get creative to enhance compensation beyond cash to differentiate and attract talent. Think personalisation like autonomous working, flexibility, parental leave and time-off policies. Add attractive financial incentives and goodwill gestures that reward loyalty, learning and personal development. These policies will mean companies will be more likely to attract and retain the best talent!


2. People Management Strategy Must Be Both a Science and an Art

The modern employee wants assignments that test their abilities and projects that demand the best from them. They want insight and advice on fit today and potential tomorrow. This is where assessment comes in. Assessment can remove bias and over-reliance on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that automatically sift suitable candidates out. Workers want career conversations and coaching to set goals, manage their development and control their career. 81% of assessed employees report higher job satisfaction versus 65% of those who are not assessed!


3. Workers Want Education, Experience, Exposure

Challenge is a priority for workers of all ages and means a multitude of things.

  • Stretch Opportunities.
  • Rotational assignments.
  • On-the-job learning and apprenticeships.
  • Stimulating projects.
  • Agile work across various teams.
  • Applying fresh skills in new roles.
  • Thinking harder.
  • Feeling more tested.
  • Clear career pathway from this job to next.

People want portfolio work that offers variety, broadens their experience and builds knowledge. A sink-or-swim approach, without support, can result in burnout! Managers need coaching skills to guide people to choreograph career conversations. Surprisingly only 16% of employees say they have ongoing conversations with their managers about their careers. Employees whose manager listens to their work problems are 62% less likely to burnout!


4. Productivity Beats Presenteeism in 2020

Workers are now prioritising balance and choice. Workers now want the social aspect of work with the flexibility to accommodate the demands of modern life. Bottom line, employers need to loosen up! Consider these progressive options for employees:

  • Non-traditional work hours with flexible starts.
  • End times that counter the rush hour and control the commute.
  • Work from Home (WFH) and Work from Wherever (WFW) policies.
  • Promote side gigs to nurture entrepreneurialism.
  • Condensed four-day work weeks or five-hour workdays that peak productivity.
  • Preserve the weekend.
  • Parental leave that balances family and care (this can be worth more than pay).

To tap the whole talent pool and retain a well workforce, employers must strike the balance of flexibility and reward productivity over presenteeism. Culture & leaders must promote it!


5. Bragging Rights Matter in the Modern Workplace

Workers want to be proud of who they work for and take pride in what they do. Strong brands, solid reputation, great place to work and an opportunity to make an impact are in the top ten reasons to work for an organisation. How life looks on LinkedIn is just as important as how it looks on Instagram! Companies with purpose, a commitment to people, and the planet are in-demand. With 45% of the global population on social media, people have more visibility than ever into the careers of friends. Companies need to meet current employees where they are at and work hard to achieve the Glassdoor recommendations.

What Workers Want Campaign 2020