Employment expectations changing as companies seek to retain and recruit employees
With a rise in interest rates today and the election campaign heating up, three key issues are emerging that may affect the radio industry’s approach to employment in the next 12 months.
- Cost of Living
Voters have told politicians that the cost of living and housing affordability are key issues of concern to Australians this election. Both major parties have heard the message and are responding with policies on these issues. Today the Reserve Bank raised interest rates from 0.1% to 0.35%, which will put additional stress on housing purchasers.
Wages have not kept pace with housing prices and the rapidly rising cost of living due to supply shortages and price rises.
- Low unemployment
The post-covid ‘great resignation’ trend and record low unemployment means that more companies are looking for more workers, pushing up demand. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, “4.0 per cent is the lowest the unemployment rate [since] November 1974.”
Employment increased for the fifth month in a row, by around 18,000 people in March this year, about 220,000 people higher than the pre-CovidDelta high of June 2021, so more people are in work and fewer are available to fill vacant jobs.
In times of low unemployment, workers can be more choosy about where they work and employers usually offer higher wages because receive fewer applications when they have a vacancy. Retaining staff in times of low unemployment becomes more of a priority for employers, as it is more cost effective to retain good employees than hire new ones.
Podcasting and working from home have emerged as competitive factors for jobs during the past two years.
Higher salaries in the podcasting industry have lured some radio workers to the other side of the fence, where salaries are reported to be at least 25% higher that radio for audio production and editorial staff. When there is less competition for jobs employers can usually find someone for whatever rate they offer, but in times if low unemployment and industry competition, employers usually need to pay higher rates to secure staff and hold them for longer.
Working from home has also been a factor for some job types, allowing lower travel costs and more flexible working hours in the areas of voiceovers, audio production, finance, HR and sales.
THE CHANGING EMPLOYMENT ENVIRONMENT
Market rates are a big factor in determining salaries and conditions, but are often not well understood by employees. Market rates are currently changing as the supply and demand curve shifts in favour of employees.
Many small markets with low revenue can hardly sustain basic office and transmission costs and only a small number of paid staff members. In these markets, costs are either cut to the bone or cross subsidised by ownership of other more profitable markets. Those stations will never be likely to be able to offer high salaries, but they may offer other benefits such as career progression or training and a more relaxed non-metro lifestyle.
At the top end of the scale, big salaries are paid to top performers in major markets, with market rates in those cities much higher than the national industry average. Salespeople, programmers and on-air talent usually get the biggest salaries, which include performance bonuses for high ratings, successful formats or above-budget sales. Other jobs that are less visible do not always keep pace with the market success of the station in the same way as the high profile job categories and it is these staff who are now exploring other opportunities in this more highly competitive market.
Staff Shortages and Demand
According to a report in the Australian Financial Review, “a record 85% of Australian businesses report staff shortages are holding back their ability to operate at full capacity and capitalise on the $245 billion in household savings stashed away during the pandemic and competition for workers is adding upward pressure to wages and prices.”
In America, Covid has set off “unprecedented churn” with the nation’s “quit rate” reaching a 20-year high last November. A Pew Research Centre study found that the “majority of workers who quit a job in 2021 say low pay (63%), no opportunities for advancement (63%) and feeling disrespected at work (57%) were reasons why they quit.”
A study conducted for Forbes reported that this is a “watershed moment” for the American advertising industry. “Burnout from 24/7 agency work and the desire to work remotely are among the drivers. A survey of 423 marketers and agency employees by the freelance platform We Are Rosie, found that 63% plan to change jobs or careers this year, 40% demand flexible hours, and every respondent said they wouldn’t consider a job that doesn’t offer the option of remote work.”
In the UK, a study of data from the Office for National Statistics found that there was indeed a great resignation in the UK, but that most workers were not resigning to retire or hunker down to avoid covid, they were resigning to take better jobs. “Resignations rose sharply from the end of 2020 and significantly exceeded their pre-pandemic levels in the final quarter of 2021… This not because workers decided to abandon work and leave the labour force. Instead, we are seeing a rise in workers resigning primarily to start new jobs for other employers.”
Some workers over 50 did retire and leave the workforce, but other age ground simply moved on to what they considered ‘better jobs’ or ‘downgraded’ their hours to have a better work-life balance.
“In 2021, workers moving to new employers saw higher gains than those that did not move,” reports the labour market study, conducted by CESifo. Of those moving to new jobs, they usually moved to a different employer in the same or a similar industry.
In Australia, the National Skills Commission confirms similar workforce shortage trends are taking place in this country. Comparing Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom, a skills commission report says “all four economies are currently facing increased labour market tightness.”
Within the last year 20% of employed Australians quit their jobs, according to data compiled by NAB. A further 24% are considering changing jobs soon. NAB business banking executive Julie Rynski told The Age perks and improve culture are important for retaining staff. was interesting that salary was not the largest driver behind decisions to change jobs.
She said the coronavirus pandemic has “made people look for employment that brings them satisfaction and enables work-life balance… COVID has made people aware of their own need for personal fulfillment … People are starting to follow their dreams a little more.”
SO WHAT CAN BE DONE TO RETAIN HIGH QUALITY STAFF AT THIS TIME OF VOLATILITY?
An Institute of Leadership and Management study from America found that once salary meets people’s basic needs and they are satisfied with their level of pay for the job they do, then they value teamwork, fun and job satisfaction in their working environment. But if basic needs are not met then no amount of fun in the work environment can make up for inadequate pay. Some of the highlights of the survey include:
- Salary is more important to dissatisfied employees than those who are satisfied
- There are many other factors identified as more important than salary among satisfied respondents, such as access to training and development (68%), being trusted to take on more responsibility (66%) and access to flexible working (63%).
- Relationships with colleagues was considered one of the most important factors in determining job satisfaction by 77% of respondents
- Feeling undervalued by their managers (47%), lack of growth and development opportunities (45%), and negative company culture (33%), indicate a poor work environment that contributes significantly to job dissatisfaction
- Less than a quarter of respondents described themselves as ‘very satisfied’ in their current role (24%)
- 34% of respondents consider salary to be one of the most important determinants of job satisfaction
According to results from the Australian Institute of Management 2021 Leadership Survey, one of the main reasons why Australians resign from their positions is due to a lack of career development opportunities to achieve better pay and recognition.
Radio Today has compiled a list of recommended best practices for post-pandemic staff retention.
Compensate employees fairly and transparently
While most salaries are confidential, it is good practice to have general salary bands for job categories so employees can see how their salary can progress as they improve their skills or move to bigger markets. This is also important to create realistic expectations about the top level of salary that can be earnt in that market for that type of job. As much transparency as possible is important.
Recruitment company Robert Half says “it’s essential for companies to pay their employees competitive compensation, which means employers need to evaluate and adjust salaries regularly. Even if your business can’t increase pay right now, consider whether you could provide other forms of compensation, such as bonuses.”
Robert Half also advises: “The pandemic helped underscore the importance of good workplace communication. Your direct reports should feel they can come to you with ideas, questions and concerns at any time. And as a leader, you need to make sure you’re doing your part to help promote timely, constructive and positive communication across the entire team, including on-site and remote employees. Make sure you proactively connect with each team member on a regular basis to get a sense of their workload and job satisfaction… be sure to thank your direct reports who go the extra mile and explain how their hard work helps the organization.”
Be transparent and consistent about salary rates and how to get a pay rise, include employees in the business thinking behind whether they will or will not get a pay rise. Employee share schemes are valuable because they give employees a sense of how the business is running and allow them to share in the profits of their hard work. Transparency infuses a sense of ownership and respect throughout the organization.
Normalise a healthy work-life balance
Good practices include:
- Offer flexible and remote working
- Focus on productivity rather than hours
- Encourage Breaks
- Regularly review workloads
- Increase support for parents
- Appreciate and recognize your employees.
- Nothing will burn out a good employee faster than feeling underappreciated
Appreciation can come in many forms, including a quick thank you, promotion or salary increase. Recognition can be public or private, and it should come from any level within the organization.
Encourage peer recognition by colleagues as well as giving plenty of leadership recognition. Peer recognition is wonderful, but employees also need to know that they’re making a real impact on the company at whatever level of the business they work in, so leadership recognition is also essential.
Build connections between employees
The Institute of Leadership and Management found that 77% of respondents say that building close relationships with colleagues is the most important factor in determining job satisfaction. Three ways to help build connections between employees are:
- Make time for connection: Take the time to connect with employees on a personal level. Building rapport is essential when things are busy, this signals to your employees that even amidst the chaos of daily work, they’re still important to you.
- Enjoy your colleagues: make time to connect socially in a relaxed atmosphere.
- Encourage sharing of expertise: Embed a culture of continuous improvements and support one another to achieve it. Foster it by sharing expertise and regular training and upskilling.
Always remember that you’ve hired people, not just ‘workers.’ Work is just one facet of people’s lives and burnout can be very real. Enable flexibility and encourage time off when needed.
One of the concerns in taking time off is the fear that the work will pile up so create backups within the team for employees to partner with other who can act as backups while they’re out.
Recruitment company EGM Partners says new retention priorities in the post-pandemic working environment are now: flexibility, community, teamwork, empathy, diversity, inclusion, development and work that is fun and interesting.
Expect some more on this topic as the week progresses.
Our previous articles on this topic can be found here.
Additional sources used in this article include: