Joshua van Gestel, ART’s Senior Manager of Strategic Education, sat down with David Mollison, General Manager of People Services at NRMA, Taneal Sultana, Head of Industry Engagement at Laing O’Rourke, and Alex Sosnov, Head of People & Culture and Regional Talent at MetLife to discuss how employers are redefining their Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to attract and retain talent in an economically uncertain, post-Covid world.
A focus on care, connection and contribution to community
Throughout the discussion, the panel highlighted four key themes of care, purpose, connection and sustainability.
David explained how the spirit of NRMA’s business flows through the organisation’s offer to employees.
“We are very fortunate as a member-based organisation that our ethos is there to help and we do the same thing for our people.”
He also highlighted that in the post-Covid environment, care – once considered a hygiene factor – is now a critical part of an organisation’s offer to employees.
“I think the language of care for employees… has really only come on so strongly as a result of Covid. I think people paid a lot of lip service to it... I think now it’s embodied in how do you actually care for people?”
Reflecting on MetLife’s EVP, Alex echoed the sentiment that care is critical to the company’s DNA.
“The word that sticks in my mind about MetLife is the word care. We care about people whether those are our customers, our employees or the communities we work within.”
How an organisation demonstrates care for its people and the communities it impacts has become an increasingly important criteria for socially conscious job seekers and staff who want to know they’re contributing to something larger than a profit margin.
“We build places for communities to gather. We build places for people to be educated and be well, like hospitals. We’ve done a lot of work about our purpose and the values that we want to live by. And that’s really come home with our employee value proposition. We are discovering in a post-Covid world that remuneration isn’t necessarily the top thing on the list anymore. People are looking for where they can go to work and contribute.”
Taneal shared that increasing employee demand for sustainable business practices also feeds into the need for organisations to define a clear and inspiring purpose.
“For us (Laing O’Rourke) we’ve seen a real shift towards sustainability. What you’re doing as a company in the sustainability space is actually quite a large part of an EVP, particularly in construction. We’ve got people looking at us, saying that is important to me and I’m choosing to work for you because you’re making a contribution. Which we are.”
Dave Woodall, ART’s Chief Commercial Officer, also recognised the importance of sustainability for employees.
“We (ART) are seeing increasing employee expectations around the way that we manage money, around the way we invest and the way we play our role in a social sense, where the flows that we’re receiving are ultimately invested.”
Redefining the EVP
Remote working, a staple during Covid that often blurred the lines between work and personal lives, has also driven demand from talent for more holistic employee benefits.
Discussing the Employee Benefits Trend Study that MetLife runs in the US and Australia every few years, Alex shared, “In terms of employee benefits, you can no longer just look at something that might be aligned to a business, but you have to look holistically. Financial wellbeing, physical health, mental health, career – all of these factors together make up what is really important when you think about employee wellbeing benefits.”
Taneal agreed, adding, “It’s not just about people’s career and their training and development anymore. You have to look after the whole person, and you have to look after the whole person at home and at work.”
With rising interest rates and increasing cost of living putting pressure on people’s budgets, financial wellbeing is becoming an increasingly vital component of this holistic approach to employee wellbeing.
While paid parental leave, employer paid insurance and other financial benefits are valued by employees, Alex explained that it’s key for an organisation to regularly check in with staff to ensure benefits are tailored to the unique needs of its workforce.
“It has to start with listening to your employees. So, being able to do both analysis for example on what is the impact of cost of living changes on certain groups of employees, but also listening and talking to them about what’s important and where the pain points are for them.”
Workplace flexibility, once a nice-to-have, has become an expectation post-Covid. But getting the balance right can be tricky, as it’s important for people to be able to connect with one another to succeed, which can be difficult to achieve when they aren’t regularly interacting face-to-face.
David said, “As we (NRMA) get further and further out of that Covid experience, yes we acknowledge that we want workplace flexibility and for people to be able to adjust their lives around work, but what we’re seeing more and more is the richness of interactions with people and what happens in that dynamic environment.”
Alex added, “It’s like a pendulum that keeps swinging, trying to find this new normal. People being one hundred per cent remote just isn’t working. It worked in the beginning because we were all in it together. We all knew each other, we were fighting through something together. But now in 2023, there’s so much turnover in most workplaces. There are a lot of people who don’t really know each other and don’t have those relationships that make work easier. So having people together is super critical to get business results.”
Taneal agreed, adding, “Speaking of flexibility, we (Laing O’Rourke) thought we were fantastic before Covid and now it’s just a given. That’s not an employee value proposition, that’s just well of course you’re going to let me work flexibly.”
While providing employees with the flexibility and benefits they desire is a valid way to motivate and reward them, that expectation needs to be balanced with the realities of running a business.
David said, “A lot of people will say but I get so much more done (working remotely). And I say but you’re more than just the widgets that you do. It’s actually about your contribution to the cohesion and fabric of us as an organisation. Very few organisations are born out of being remote workplaces. We are wired for connectivity as human beings. Therefore, we create workplaces to reflect that.”
This content is provided for information purposes only, and the opinions expressed are theirs alone and should not be taken as financial product advice. You should get professional advice before making an investment decision.