David Phillips: Money talks, but employees care about more than just salary

Attracting and retaining talent in a post-pandemic world is proving challenging for employers, with a rising cost of living, increases in national insurance and a surge in fuel prices leading many workers to seek new roles in pursuit of higher pay.

In City & Guilds’ Great Jobs research, published in February 2022, we worked with economic modellers EMSI to survey 10,000 working age people across the UK to gain insights into their attitudes and opinions regarding essential (or key worker) jobs.

With 56% of essential workers saying that a pay increase would make them feel happier and prouder to do their job, it is clear that cold hard cash will play a significant role in the decisions individuals make to look for a new role, and employers will need to consider the potential for flexibility in terms of salaries in a tight labour market. However, with many employers facing financial pressures themselves, it will be important to consider other strategies to attract and retain talented people. So, what else motivates working age people in the UK?

Almost two fifths (38%) of those we surveyed cited a better work-life balance as a factor that would make them feel happier and prouder to do their job, while 29% said that they would value flexible working hours; and this shoots up to 53% of working women, reflecting the caring responsibilities that often fall to women. Another key factor highlighted was the opportunity for training and career progression, with 21% of respondents saying that this would make them happier and prouder to do their job.

Employers should also consider the impact that managers can have on staff retention levels: 80% of essential workers told us that they felt that having a good manager has an impact on how much they enjoyed their job, but only 60% felt that there were well supported by their organisation’s leaders or felt that their own manager did a good job in supporting them. By investing in high quality training for middle managers employers can create a more appealing working environment, improving staff retention and attracting new applicants through developing a positive reputation in their field.

The importance of salary is clear, particularly when we are in the midst of a cost of living crisis, but employers should consider that their employees are motivated by a range of factors. By taking a more holistic approach, organisations have the potential to stand out in the competition for talent.

David Phillips is managing director at City and Guilds and Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM)