Market Research Wellbeing Human Resources

The Shift in Human Resource Research Post-Pandemic

Stay up to date

Back to main Blog
Julia Morton

HR teams are under pressure to adapt – and fast. It’s no secret that the pandemic initiated many to reconsider the structure of their work lives. The sudden shift to remote work for office employees along with the intense pressure on essential workers caused employees to create new priorities at work. Flexibility, work life balance, and company culture have since been catapulted to the forefront of employment discussions.  

The shift has left HR departments with questions about what it will take to adequately attract and retain top talent. MDRG has been working to understand what employees are looking for when evaluating current and potential workplaces through primary and secondary research. The answer: In today’s world, competitive compensation is only part of the equation.   


While competitive compensation packages will get candidates to consider an organization, it’s the intangible elements that will ultimately lead to selection, retention and job satisfaction. HR should not just think about job needs, but also flexibility. Are employees able to work from home? Create their own schedule? Leave early to pick up their kids? Conversely, in some cases, employees may be willing to trade time and flexibility for money. Flexibility means different things for different employees, so it’s important to implement various ways employees could tap into this benefit, such as flexible hours and the ability to work from home.  


Flexibility is only one of the elements that make up the “intangible” elements of a job. Commonly prioritized intangibles also include having a good manager and team, a positive work culture, being able to have a positive impact on the world at large, having the tools to do the job well, volunteering and community service, ways to collaborate in remote or hybrid environments and more. If you ask employees to rank what is most important to them, compensation will always come out on top. However, through qualitative discussions, it’s clear that after the pandemic employees are prioritizing intangibles more than ever.   


Employees also appreciate creative benefits that help the company stand out from other potential employers. For example, Adobe implemented a sabbatical program employees can take every 5 years of employment. Employees who have been with the company for 5 years enjoy a 4-week sabbatical, 10-year employees earn another 5 weeks, and employees of 15 years and on can take a 6-week sabbatical. Offering permanent remote work is still a way employers can stand out. Airbnb recently announced that their employees can live and work anywhere, which generated 800,000 views to their career page after the announcement. Not only can employees work from anywhere, but the company announced employees who move to lower cost of living areas will not experience a salary adjustment. 


With so many recruitment and retention strategies out there, HR departments would benefit from conducting primary research to understand their employee audiences specifically. HR research could help you prioritize potential work policies and more:  

  • Understand how professionals in your line of work are making employment selections. 
  • Test recruitment messages to identify what is the most effective in generating interest from candidates.  
  • Evaluate proposed benefits to uncover which will be most likely to help your organization stand out from competition.  
  • Measure feedback from employees to track satisfaction and anticipate retention issues before they arise.  



Get latest articles directly in your inbox, stay up to date