By Holly A. Whisler

There has been a shift in workforce dynamics since the pandemic shook life up a couple years ago. Job seekers have a renewed sense of confidence — they know their priorities and the value they bring to the table. Surveys conducted in 2021 show that those actively seeking employment are looking for competitive pay, raises that keep pace with inflation, flexibility to work remotely and a robust benefits package. In fact, benefits are more important now than ever.

When it comes to hiring new talent and keeping current employees satisfied, “It’s not just about the money — it’s about the complete employee experience,” explained Jenny Thayer, chief human resources officer at Horace Mann. She said that Horace Mann is probably no different from other employers “when it comes to what the pandemic has forced us to look at in regard to the employee experience.”

Katie Rutledge, chief human resources officer for Springfield Clinic said, “No doubt that the past couple of years have changed how we recruit talent, and there have been shifts in the way people approach employment.” She said recruits are looking for competitive pay, a good benefits package with a low insurance premium, along with flexibility in respect to hours and the opportunity to work remotely.

The main benefit people are asking for is flexibility — they like the option to work a hybrid schedule, remarked Thayer. Remote work is a major trend among job seekers as people are no longer bound by location. She said it is considered a benefit both to those actively seeking employment and to those currently employed.

A survey of Horace Mann staff indicated that many valued the flexibility their work-from-home experience gave them. As a result, in 2021, Horace Mann announced the hybrid-model of work that allows approximately 70% of employees the option to work remotely. Thayer said there are positions that are 100% remote, and the company creates ways to ensure that those employees feel a connection to the organization.

Rutledge said Springfield Clinic likes to be flexible when and where it is possible to do so without compromising patient care — the No. 1 priority. Some work roles lend themselves to more flexible arrangements than others. Rutledge said she knows job sharing is appreciated by working parents, but flexibility may depend on the office. “This is where we have meaningful conversations with applicants and current employees so that we know what they need and we can clearly communicate the work arrangements,” she said.

A differentiation is made between those who are actively seeking employment and those who are currently employed, because even content employees are willing to leave a position for more pay or better benefits in this current market. Rutledge said Springfield Clinic has an overall low turnover rate that the company is proud of, and that is a reflection of their employee value proposition that includes competitive pay, benefits and an employee referral program that comes with a monetary reward. Rutledge said this program is promoted frequently.

Another dimension of attracting and keeping quality talent, especially for the millennial generation, is corporate social responsibility. Thayer said at Horace Mann, “we strive to be a good citizen,” but the company has taken social responsibility a step further by matching employee contributions and allowing employees to personalize the positive impact they make by directing their contribution to their community of choice.

Local companies have adapted to the need for keeping people safe by holding virtual interviews and virtual new employee orientations. Springfield-area businesses have proven their ability to adapt and continue to attract quality talent, even while meeting the requirements of the workforce that has been forever changed by the common experience of a pandemic. Perhaps people had a chance to gain a new perspective on life while working from home, and for many, there is now more balance in the work-life equation.


Holly Whisler is the associate editor for Springfield Business Journal.