This is the era of the employee, but bosses need to lead the way
27th September 2021
By Siobhan Byrnes
Over the course of the ongoing pandemic, I can’t help but cringe every time I read an article that debates the health of workplace culture. Working closely with businesses of all sizes and across all sectors as they navigate workplace change, my team and I have seen that employee-driven culture is very much alive and is, in fact, becoming increasingly valued and prioritised.
The pandemic prompted a re-evaluation by everyone. Where culture was perhaps taken for granted, it quickly became apparent how critical it is to steadying a ship in a time of upheaval. Culture remains the beating heart of any organisation and it survived, thanks to efforts by leadership and employees alike, despite us all working remotely for over a year. We recently surveyed nearly 1,200 employees (both at junior and senior levels), and 45% ranked ‘team, people and culture’ as most the important aspect when choosing a job, followed by flexible working (39%), with competitive salaries and bonus slipping down the priority list.
The last 18 months have proved that businesses can nurture culture and collaboration whether in the office or not. Evidently, technology stepped up its game and helped us manufacture ‘face-to-face’ interaction across new mediums. For many, the experiment has worked and they felt the benefits of an improved work/life balance, more time with family and the autonomy to work based on deliverables rather than time. A flexible working environment is certainly here to stay. Indeed, 66% of employees and senior executives want to split their time between home and the office, with some wishing to define their working location on a weekly basis (41% of senior execs and 38% of employees). Just 3% of employees would work from an office full time again.
It is the era of the employee, no doubt. But where does this leave business leaders?
Employees are being more vocal about their expectations, and employers are listening. In the same survey we conducted recently, 76% of senior executives and business owners said that they would prioritise employee wellbeing over financial and commercial concerns in planning the future of the workplace. Business leaders are coming to terms with how critical it is to create a workplace of choice for its employees, and the importance of their role to listen and then lead the way.
Business leaders can help their people find purpose and direction. During the pandemic, 34% of employees questioned whether their current career was right for them. There is a fantastic opportunity for business leaders to use the pandemic as a catalyst to reinvent culture in the hybrid workplace. Employees want to feel part of something meaningful, they value the people they work with and the team atmosphere more than ever before.
We are undoubtedly entering a new era of workplace culture, inclusivity, collaboration and productivity and it is therefore critical that the workplace is rethought and nurtured hand-in-hand with employees. Those that successfully navigate the complexities and opportunities of this workplace change will set themselves on a firm footing for the future. It’s not every day that you’re presented with an opportunity to reshape how a business is run. Bosses need to grab it to keep their employees motivated and engaged as we all enter into a new era of working!
To read about the findings, click here