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VENTURES AFRICA – From allowing dogs at the office (Google), to free transportation to and from work in a WiFi-equipped bus (Microsoft), the traditional notion of what constitutes employee benefits has changed. Top companies understand that the future is uncertain and that their success is dependent on the calibre of their employees. Those who can lead with the current trends, those who are innovative, those able to easily adapt to new technology and those who are highly skilled are the most sought-after recruits.
Within the next five to 10 years, perhaps even sooner, companies will be facing the challenge of luring a different kind of employee – one that is discerning, highly sought and therefore choosy. To attract and retain such employees, companies will need to offer them a unique value proposition.
The CEB Corporate Leadership Council’s Global Workforce Insights study released in early 2013 found that in addition to good compensation, work-life balance and career opportunities rank top on the list of employee needs. According to the study, 34 percent of employees around the world prioritise work-life balance when evaluating job prospects. Some four out of 10 employees are willing to leave their current job for better career opportunities. Even in tight global economic conditions, employees who know they have something distinct to offer are not willing to settle for less than what they believe a company can provide.
Many of the world’s top-rated employers have been quick to respond to this trend. Facebook, ranked among the top companies to work for in 2013 in a poll by online jobs and career community, Glassdoor, offers perks such as free food and transportation, dry cleaning and day-care reimbursements, plus $4,000 in cash for new parents. All of this in an effort to help employees acquire some form of work-life balance. Data analytics firm, SAS, named as the world’s best multinational by The Great Place to Work Institute and consistently named in the top three of Fortune’s 100 Best companies to work for, focuses on feelings and emotions to drive workforce happiness. SAS employees and their families have free access to a gymnasium, an on-site healthcare clinic and work-life counselling, which helps employees more effectively manage the stresses of everyday life. The company’s CEO, Jim Goodnight, says that what makes the organisation work are the ideas received from employees. As such, the company places great emphasis on the emotional aspects – trust and showing employees they are valued.
Today’s employees are looking for a career package, including a comfortable company culture, career path, diversity of responsibilities and a manageable work-life balance. The latter is particularly popular because today’s generation want to have time to spend with their spouses and children. Today’s employee embraces company loyalty, commitment and demand confidence in the company. However, with the competition for talent now across borders, particularly for multinationals, companies need to ready themselves for what is to come, and that is having to justify themselves to those they are seeking to attract and retain, beyond perks.
Employees of the future will want to find out from their potential employers about their standing in society and what they are doing to make communities a better place in which to work and live. They will want to know that the company they work for cares for the environment and that they can contribute towards ensuring that the company is responsible and ‘green’. They will ask what the company is doing to ensure that it is an ethical and responsible corporate citizen and how the potential employer is perceived by others. This, of course, will be in addition to wanting to know about career advancement prospects and how the company demonstrates, through actions, that it values its employees. Describing yourself merely as an ‘employer of choice’ will no longer be sufficient. For organisations, this means committing to being responsible corporate citizens, being innovative in employee benefits and other non-traditional perks and offering a dynamic working environment, coupled with exciting prospects.
Faced with the realities of operating across 22 very diverse markets, MTN uses a fluid total rewards model where, in addition to a basic salary and leave options, employees’ packages are localised to ensure that they are relevant to the environments in which they live, while at the same time catering to their needs. Other strategies in place include a job rotation programme, where employees are given the opportunity to work in other markets, as well as leadership talent management, which has been responsible for MTN’s impressive leadership pipeline. These strategies ensure that MTN has a known record of promoting from within when looking for new leadership. MTN is also an employer of choice in many markets. Furthermore, the company offers employees plentiful growth opportunities.
MTN has adopted a new vision – to lead the delivery of a bold new digital world – which has seen it advance from a telecommunications provider to a digital services provider. For potential employees, this means the chance to be part of the digital revolution and offers unparalleled opportunities to learn and grow within a dynamic and evolving industry – one which is shaping the future.
MTN prides itself on being innovative, particularly with regards to community involvement. In Yemen, for example, MTN is the official sponsor of collective weddings for employees, which form a major part of the country’s culture. Through the annual 21 Days of Y’ello Care employee volunteer programme, as well as the MTN Foundations, the companies gives back to local communities.
As the landscape changes, employers would do well to realise that this evolving work environment lends itself to various categories of employee: permanent, contractual, flexi-workers and part-time. This results in a scenario where employees, particularly those with scarce skills, are able to work for several companies simultaneously. In order for employers to benefit from this, they will need to be flexible and adaptable. Therefore, as has always been the case, for both the employee and employer to thrive, a mutually beneficial relationship is key. The difference going forward is that companies will now need to move beyond the ordinary to prove that they are about more than just profits if they are to attract and retain the best talent.