“With this in mind, a coordinated planning effort among governments and large businesses to meet the top needs of employees and make cities more attractive,” Francis Omanyala, Associate at Mercer Africa.
The study provides critical insight into the motivations of workers against the backdrop of fierce competition for highly-skilled talent. It also provides practical advice for companies and municipalities to help them accelerate their talent strategies and realize commercial gains.
“We learned that employers misunderstand what motivates people to move to a city and stay there. Moreover, cities are not performing well when it comes to addressing many of the more human and social factors that are listed as important among key employee groups. This dynamic creates natural tensions between what people value most and a city’s ability to deliver,” Ms. Ferland added.
The study explored 20 critical factors across four people-based pillars – human, health, money and work. Respondents were asked to rank five factors, based on how important they were in affecting their decision to stay in or leave a city. The most compelling finding was that for cities and businesses to attract the right talent to do the work of the future, human and social factors are the most important.
Overall, satisfaction with life ranks as the most important factor for workers in deciding whether to stay in or leave a city. When considering a move to a new city, workers rate life satisfaction twice as important than employers realize. Safety and security rank second. Income comes in third, with proximity to family and friends in fourth and career and job opportunities fifth.
A key distinction revealed by the study is only after people have made the decision to move to a new city do money and job factors become more important. When looking to make a professional move within a city, the three top drivers are money, better career opportunities, and promotion or advancement. At the hyper-local level, proximity-based amenities and infrastructure, along with various cultural factors, matter more to employees.
Most cities are underperforming
In one of the most significant findings of the study for local governments, most workers say their cities are underperforming. The biggest tension between worker expectations and city performance is in safety and infrastructure. Pollution, personal stress, affordable housing, transport and mobility, and safety and security represent major gaps between what a city is able to deliver and what the employees surveyed value, presenting a major opportunity for making vast improvements in meeting workers’ needs and expectations in the future.
The study did reveal some good news, however, with many respondents saying the cities they live and work in do quite well in terms of cultural and economic factors, and with other areas including life satisfaction, career opportunities, proximity to airports and green spaces already meeting expectations.
Although the study’s 15 current and future megacities share some commonalities, some key differences were revealed. Based on performance against the four pillars of human, health, money and work, the cities were grouped into advanced, progressing or approaching in terms of whether they meet worker’s expectations. Advanced cities score well in all four factors, with a small-to-medium gap between workers’ expectations and the city’s performance.
Cities classified as progressing have a mid-size gap between expectations and performance. Lagos is ranked among approaching cities which receive low scores across all four dimensions, with the biggest gap in expectations versus city’s performance, and the lowest general life satisfaction among the three groups.
“We believe one of the most important imperatives emerging from the study is the need for effective public-private partnerships to facilitate the necessary improvements,” said Mr. Anderson. “To accelerate progress at scale and create the environments in which workers and their families can thrive, and in order to underpin sustainable economic growth for everyone, companies and governments must work together to address the future needs of the employees they are trying to attract.”
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