As 2023 gets underway, the U.S. labor market continues to gain momentum. The number of job openings ticked down to 10.5 million on the last business day of November 2022, while the number of hires increased slightly at 3.9% to 6.1 million. However, there were still 4.2 million employees who voluntarily left their jobs for better opportunities or who exited the workforce entirely. Most sectors have been significantly impacted by the labor shortage, and companies are rethinking their recruitment and benefit strategies to stay competitive in the war for talent in 2023 and beyond.

Professional Development and Career Opportunities
Employees tend to thrive when they feel appreciated and are recognized for their efforts. In fact, recognition improves employee engagement, and highly engaged employees can lead to a 21% increase in profitability, 31% lower turnover rate, and an 80% customer retention rate. One way companies are adding value is by actively investing in their staff through education and professional development opportunities. Employees can sharpen their skills or learn a new skill set to better do their jobs and possibly be eligible for internal advancement. According to Apollo Technical, 47% of employees said that new growth opportunities are a better way to reward them for their achievements. If employees don’t feel valued or if they feel their careers have plateaued, they are more likely to seek fulfilling employment elsewhere.

Flexible Work Hours and Conditions
The pandemic has brought into focus the importance of work-life-balance. This isn’t a new concept by any means, and businesses have been offering on-site amenities (e.g., fitness centers, dry cleaning, childcare) that support this for many years now. Employers are also being more flexible regarding the time employees spend in the office. To support this trend, a ManpowerGroup Solutions study reported that nearly 40% of candidates listed workplace flexibility as a top-three factor for job consideration. To boot, another survey found that employees are more loyal to their employer if they provide flexible working arrangements.

Extended Time Off
Companies are sweetening their benefit packages with additional time off. Employees are being offered robust vacation options, parental leave, as well as birthdays and bonus days off throughout the year. Some companies are even offering unlimited time off, which gives employees the freedom to take as much time off as desired — as long as it doesn’t impede productivity or business priorities and needs.

Workforce Emotional and Mental Health
Employee health is a critical factor in the success of any business, and the last three years have had a detrimental impact on overall workforce emotional and mental wellbeing. A 2021 American Psychological Association survey showed that in “nearly three in five employees (59%) have experienced negative impacts of work-related stress, including a lack of interest, motivation or energy (26%), difficulty focusing (21%), and a lack of effort at work (19%).” This group was also three times more likely to seek new employment.

The upside is the survey also found that 87% of respondents felt employers could be of help in supporting their emotional and mental health — opening the door for companies to provide much needed resources, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that offer professional help at a low, or no-cost to employees.

For example, KBS strongly champions health and wellness internally. Each employee is gifted with a Fitbit and invited to participate in quarterly walking challenges with team members to increase physical fitness through friendly competition. KBS reimburses partial gym membership fees to promote an active lifestyle and offers each employee a free subscription to the Calm app, which helps them reduce stress and care for their mental health and well-being.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Creating an inclusive environment where employees can be themselves regardless of identity or background is a must-have with future recruits. According to a Deloitte survey, 40% of employees would consider resigning if their organization doesn’t fulfill its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) commitments. Look for more companies to implement DEI initiatives and partnerships that create opportunities for personal and professional staff development with a diverse and inclusive mindset.

Fun Stuff
More than ever, companies are stepping up their efforts to attract and retain talent with feel-good perks like massages and yoga classes during work hours, healthful and complimentary snack options, discounts to different businesses and services, pet-friendly environments, and much more. On their own these perks are not enough to sway an applicant’s decision but, coupled with the right overall benefits package, could tip the scales.

With the war for talent at an all-time high, it’s more important than ever to create a work environment that motivates and inspires. There isn’t a magic formula to achieve this, but most of the trends mentioned above fall within the scope of “employee wellbeing,” which means that adding more value to an employee’s benefits package should be a core strategy to recruitment and retention programs.

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