New data from the Edelman 2021 Trust Barometer report reveals a new trend few people will find surprising: Business leaders now rank their employees as the most important component of their business, more even than shareholders and customers. 

Given the well-reported shortages of workers worldwide, it’s no wonder businesses are grappling with the issue of how to find and keep talented employees. Clearly, the question of how to operate normally, much less grow, is driving home the importance of a reliable and motivated workforce. This reality has implications for businesses we should all pay attention to.

Do your employees feel appreciated? 

The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Brands and the Coronavirus Pandemic, reported that 90% of consumers in 12 markets said that brands must do everything they can to protect the well-being and financial security of their employees. Here’s the kicker: This behavior was expected from an employer even if it meant taking significant financial losses to do so. 

Help wanted.

Given this reality, it’s essential for employers to ensure their employees feel valued, respected, and able to advance within the company or organization. On a practical level, this can be evaluated and measured by surveying the workforce and asking what benefits or policies are needed to remain loyal and happily employed. It should be obvious given the ubiquity of “help wanted” signs appearing in storefronts that employees who don’t feel like they matter can easily move jobs until they do. 

What do your employees expect of you? Updated values. 

Once again, this information is best uncovered using employee surveys and interviews. With data in hand, employers should do their best to meet their employees’ needs. On a macro level, the Edelman report found several trends among workers nationwide:

Employees now expect a powerful employee value proposition that includes continual training and skill development. Employers must take a long, honest look at their values and culture and spend time to redefine their employee value proposition. Failure to do so in a talent marketplace fundamentally changed by pandemic-related workforce upheaval, as well as the societal changes of 2020, is certain to result in reduced employee satisfaction. 

Tell them: communicating with employees is crucial.

It doesn’t matter if an employer offers the best benefits or invests substantial financial resources in their people if employees are unaware of it. It sounds basic, but it’s something most companies don’t do well– communicating their values and commitment to employees. On the plus side, employer media, a term used for employer-provided information like newsletters, emails, and other internal communication tools, are viewed by employees to be more credible than any other information source about the company. That means any investment in educating and informing employees will then pay off; employees who are proud of their company’s reputation share those feelings externally, helping to build trust both within and outside the organization. What does that look like in real life? Consider using tools that allow genuine two-way conversations with employees, and provide platforms for workers to share their thoughts and ideas. Doing so is sure to improve your business’ ability to recruit and keep the most talented employees in the market. 

As communicators, we’re positioned to play a role or even lead in these areas. From values development, to ensuring leaders live their stated values, to enhanced internal communications, it’s time for us to step up and help shape the very-much-in-flux workforce.