The focus of the article titled ‘Job for Life is a Thing of the Past’ (The Sunday Times of Malta, February 24) was that “employers need to consider what makes their workplace a place one would aspire to work” as a panacea in helping solve recruitment and retention by organisations in Malta.

However, the article looks at the employee from the employers’ perspective, often a major failing in Malta. It fails to look at employment from the employees’ perspective, in understanding the motivation, behaviour and decision-making employee process.

When it comes to attracting and retaining employees, employers need to understand what employees really want from an organisation. Competitive pay and benefits factor into an employee’s decision to join and stay with an organisation but there are many other overlooked desires or factors that are often more important.

These include: where employment makes a positive difference; it challenges you to grow and develop as a person, your skills and expertise; it fits your personality; the organisation’s values align with yours; it is something you love to do; you feel appreciated and valued; you enjoy working with colleagues and finally, you are trusted.

Perhaps the most underrated desire of employees today by organisations is the desire to work with a purpose. Many employees would be willing to give up fancy perks or office game rooms in exchange for fulfilling work.

Research shows that millennials and generation Z, those born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, are highly conscious and socially aware, more likely to be influenced and more selective about organisations that support issues or causes with which they connect deeply. Thus core purpose directly affects attitudes and goes beyond the ‘perk culture’.

Unfortunately, in many organisations, a sense of purpose is overlooked in today’s profit-focused world. Many employees feel that they are just working mainly for a salary, perks, even status, but aren’t contributing to the greater good of society, which becomes more obvious over time.

Without a sense of purpose, it is difficult for employees to connect with their work and organisation. Working with a sense of purpose boosts employee motivation,  morale, productivity and overall job satisfaction. According to Mercer (Talents Trends Study, US 2018) key employees are three times more likely to work for a company with a strong sense of purpose. However, only 13 per cent of surveyed companies offer an employee value proposition (EVP) differentiated by a purpose-driven mission.

In order for employers to provide purpose to employees, employers should: create a clear vision; show recognition and express their thanks but not just in terms of money or perks; let employees know how their job impacts the company and its clients; frequently discuss the meaning and value of the organisation; and share  success stories.

Keeping up with the desires of your workforce can be challenging. However, identifying your employees’ wants and desires will greatly benefit your organisation and its customers. The issue then for employers is how to replicate those experiences which matter to employees.

Steve Jobs argued that what was important was not making money per se, but the process of creation. “Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

Jobs’ philosophy holds that what matters most is finding out what you love to do, passionately pursuing a career in that area, committing yourself to thoroughly understanding it, always going by your own judgement, monitoring how you spend your time, and continually adjusting your activities in order to achieve the greatest happiness possible.

In Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It (Richmond: Glen Allen Press), we are told: “We are not born with pre-packaged purpose. If we want our life to be meaningful, we have to make it so.”

Our life is a process of self-generated, goal-directed action – action that, because we have free will, is generated by us toward goals chosen by us. The meaning of our life is a function of the goals we choose to pursue – that is, our purposes. The meaning of one’s life is determined by the choices one makes and the effort one exerts. Employment is part of life’s experiences.

Employment for me has always been about challenge, professional excellence and in making a difference. I have always viewed life as a journey and education with self-belief as the key ingredients.

Education freed me from my past where my parents’ job-for-life attitude was paramount. They never understood that one element of education is to be free to have choices, new experiences and moving every three or four years. New roles, new sectors, new colleagues, new challenges and different locations are part of one’s personal and professional development

One can stay too long in a job with the same organisation. In a buyers’ market, not only can you do this, you should do it to become a more rounded person.

Louis Naudi is an entrepreneur, mentor and consultant in entrepreneurship and marketing, member of the Skills Council and of the Consultative Council for Womens' Rights in Malta, Hon. Professor, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and former CIM Ambassador for Malta.

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