Want to work with the best people? You simply need to make your workplace the best and first choice for talent. Here MetLife’s, Head of Talent, Asia Pacific, Alex Sosnov, discusses Metlife’s latest Employee Benefit Trends Study (EBTS) report and reveals what employees really want.

1. How important is to people to have a sense of purpose at work?

Having a sense of purpose is very important to employees – as highlighted in MetLife’s 2019 EBTS report. Purpose makes work meaningful and when people feel the work they’re doing together has value, they’re more engaged. We’re very purpose driven at Metlife and have been for more than 150 years. We started because we saw a need to help people feel confident about their future. That’s our purpose.

2. How does MetLife let employees know diversity is encouraged?

We want all employees to have a sense of belonging so they can fully contribute. When they do, that’s inclusion made real. No matter who you are, you should feel like you’re valued, your ideas are valued and you feel comfortable speaking up. Inclusion is important for us because having diverse perspectives makes a positive contribution to our culture, our outcomes – and our connection with customers.

3. Does flexible working help retain employees?

Yes. We’re big believers in flexible working. What we see is people work better when they work hours that fit in with their life. That’s a big part of attracting great talent. Flexible working means different things to people, so we don't have one blanket rule.

4. What role does training play in strengthening the culture and keeping talent?

It’s incredibly valuable. Through developing leaders and critical talent we can encourage great behaviour and build culture. Learning is also a drawcard for talent, and at MetLife we have an online training platform that includes courses, access to articles and libraries of information – it’s all curated by AI around employee goals. It includes courses available to all employees on data analytics and digital foundations because we know this is the future. And we want everyone to be up to speed.

5. How can managers identify if somebody needs support with their mental health?

Having quality conversations and building rapport is the best way to check in with people. If you build trust, people are more likely to open up. If you're a manager and you think somebody is struggling, but you don't know how to handle it, talk with HR or your own manager. We also have an employee assistance program where Metlife pays for professional, confidential help for our employees.

6. What other ways do you support MetLife employees?

We offer benefits around financial wellness such as additional super contributions, and insurance and travel discounts. We're moving from monthly to fortnightly pay cycles because people told us they wanted more cash flow. We offer an annual allowance for personal health goals as well as discounts on gyms, yoga, or massage. This year we're adding three days of gifted leave. We know people have been working hard and we want them to take the extra time off over the Christmas break.

7. It’s well known people leave people and not jobs. How can this be avoided?

This is why leadership development is so important. And leaders of leaders can really help here. If you’re managing somebody who's managing others, it’s really important to know what's going on. Join team meetings when you can and make sure part of their performance is based on their leadership skills.

8. What are some of the big trends for workplaces of the future?

We see three major trends that are already being embraced by some workplaces and we expect they’ll become the standard:

  • Mobile workforce – This trend includes contract workers and the gig economy. We need to face the fact the makeup of the workforce will be different. It’s no longer just permanent employees working Monday to Friday.
  • Digital – Everyone needs to become digitally capable, particularly around data and customer-focused design. If you feel a bit behind, educate yourself. Otherwise, you’ll be left behind.
  • People skills – As we automate more business processes, the value people bring to the workplace will be more focused on human talents that machines don’t have. People skills including building relationships, understanding customers, empathy and emotional intelligence will be increasingly valuable.