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It has long been accepted that pay is only part of the picture when it comes to how to attract and retain talent. At Paydata, we have always underlined the importance of taking pay off the table as an issue – this then focuses employees on the wider value they derive from work. Here we outline how clear job descriptions and reinforcing the wider picture on total reward can lower recruitment and retention challenges.

Constrained pay

The cost of living crisis combined with the Ukrainian war has put huge pressure on the global economy, which directly affects both employers and employees. The preceding impact of Brexit and the pandemic has meant sustained pressure on pay reviews. Our latest UK Reward Management Survey, which featured research that captured HR practices affecting over half a million employees, reveals that 2022 pay reviews are predominantly three per cent, which is still below inflation.

With 72 per cent of employers experiencing retention difficulties and 85 per cent reporting recruitment challenges, employers need to look outside of their pay frameworks to the value their total reward proposition offers candidates and current employees.

How can job descriptions help to keep and attract talent?

As a formal account of an employee’s responsibilities, job descriptions are invaluable HR tools that can impact recruitment, but also foster loyalty. HR professionals can reduce retention difficulties by crafting high quality job descriptions that are clear and fit-for-purpose. Our Job Description Support Service has helped a host of different organisations craft descriptions that accurately capture the role that each individual has in bringing the company’s mission and vision to life.

Being clear on what the role entails ensures that employees understand what their role requires and what is expected of them. Clear expectations can strengthen the employee-employer relationship on both sides. The expectations also set out what each employee needs to do in order to progress in the organisation and in their career, driving employee engagement.

Role in recruitment

Attracting the top talent in your market requires a clear, detailed and motivating job description. Candidates will look to apply for roles which set out their best skills and cover their areas of interest and expertise. HR professionals should ensure they set out the main responsibilities and aspects of the position they are advertising.

From the employer’s perspective, writing a comprehensive, high-quality job description will make the process more efficient. Prospective employees can assess whether they are suitable if enough detail is given and the description separates out core requirements from additional desirable skills, speeding up the process and attracting the right skills. This will deter under-qualified or unsuitable talent, strengthening the applications received.

There is a balance to strike here. Too many requirements may deter even the strongest of applicants. Finding the right middle ground between detail and being concise is how we help our customers through our Job Description Support Service.

Employee engagement

Strong job descriptions are typically synonymous with the recruitment process, but many underestimate the opportunity that they provide in motivating employees and recognising achievements. A core element of employee satisfaction is a clear understanding of their responsibilities.

According to Dan Pink in his research ‘Drive’, people need to be clear on how they can shape their role and take responsibility to give them autonomy. The job description provides the platform for employees to sufficiently map this out – enabling them to go above and beyond what is expected of them. The resulting demonstration of dedication to their role enables employers to reward high performing individuals and retain top talent.

Checklist for producing a strong job description:

  • Job title: are a role’s responsibilities in line with the title e.g. Assistant or Manager?
  • Job summary: is there a short description of the job’s roles and requirements to stand out on a job board?
  • Job accountabilities: are the core responsibilities outlined?
  • Job requirements: are these clear? Are desired soft skills, necessary technical skills or experience adequately outlined?
  • Company information: is the company culture described and any progression opportunities for future growth outlined?
  • Employer philosophy: is the drafting inclusive, ensuring all demographics can apply, opening up the position to everyone?
  • Spelling and grammar: always proof-read the professional document to give the best first impression of your organisation.

Supporting employee satisfaction at work outside of pay

In addition to having robust job descriptions, employers are increasingly examining the culture they offer to their people. While this is an intangible benefit, the employee value proposition (EVP) is a key factor that many employers are taking the time to define and articulate. A strong EVP, or reason for wanting to work at a particular organisation, can unite employees with a shared feeling of purpose, strengthening the culture.

Values play a huge role for people in determining whether they feel they have a sense of belonging at work, or guiding the types of companies they would like to work for. This can be set out in the job description itself, setting out the employer philosophy to reaffirm their commitment to diversity and inclusion, and by ensuring the drafting is inclusive to access under-represented talent pools.

Hybrid working

In the wake of the pandemic which transformed ways of working for millions of people, flexible ways of working have never been more of an important consideration for employers defining their approach. HRreview has featured recent research into how the majority of workers prioritise work-life balance over salary, with over two thirds of employees seeing work-life balance as more important than their pay and employee benefits combined.

Organised by not-for-profit 4 Day Week Global in partnership with think-tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week campaign and researchers at Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College, a six-month pilot scheme is underway involving 3,300 UK workers in 70 businesses, from city financial institutions to restaurants. After just one month, positive results are emerging, the forecast benefits include improving work-life balance, physical and mental health, while supporting gender parity by supporting caring responsibilities. These benefits are predicted to drive down retention difficulties. This recognises that greater flexibility might be a possibility in addition to remote working arrangements in the future.

“Attracting the top talent in your market requires a clear, detailed and motivating job description."

Total Reward Statements

Communicating the full package that employers offer and the investment that they make in each employee is key to driving forwards employee engagement, which Total Reward Statements can capture. With the EVP of a business often being a key factor in a candidates decision to choose to join, and core to fostering loyalty and job satisfaction, outlining the intangible benefits of work alongside the tangible cash and bonus benefits can reinforce the true value employees derive.

Employers are having to be more innovative with budgets and bolster their approach to total reward. 22 per cent of respondents acknowledged that they have improved their benefits provision to mitigate constrained pay reviews. Underlining the wider value they offer when it comes to supporting issues that employees care about – from embedding diversity and inclusion to flexible working and greater support at critical lifetime milestones such as fertility treatment or the menopause – can also rebalance the pressure placed on pay frameworks in the current economic climate. Unlock the benefits of the wider support you offer by actively highlighting how you treat employees as individuals through Total Reward Statements.

Get in touch

Contact us to help you navigate the competitive labour market. At Paydata, we have helped a number of organisations across a variety of sectors to refine and design their job descriptions across the business. We can offer you straightforward, practical advice on how to implement effective job descriptions, ensuring that they suit your sector and organisation. We can also support you on how best to outline the wider total reward package you offer employees.

From the intangible to tangible benefits that employees derive from their work in addition to pay, contact our team to speak about how you can reduce employee recruitment and retention challenges by taking a holistic approach.


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