The ever-changing world of work forces modern organisations to consistently reflect and review the way they work. Changes in technology, lifestyle, and demographics, coupled with volatility experienced by global incidents such as the Covid-19 pandemic, highlight more than ever the importance of employee engagement in order to attract and retain key talent.
In the current competitive job market, it is even more important that employers consider how to motivate and retain their best and brightest. They also need to think about ways of growing their teams and developing the workforce they currently have.
If we agree that an organisations success is linked to its ability to retain and maintain a high level of employee engagement, then there are 5 key trends that every leader needs to be aware of.
#1 – Perks and benefits
While a base salary is still an important consideration for us all, the majority of employees are also look for other opportunities offered at work. Employees today are looking for an experience, not just a job. Compensation packages offered in modern workplaces need to consider that simply offering a bonus may not be an attractive enough of an offer.
Time is increasingly becoming a more valuable currency for many of us and a trend that will no doubt grow in importance in the future.
An example of this, post lockdown, is that many employers are now offering more flexible working options, and this will soon be seen as a must have, rather than a perk, as current job hunters are already looking for this option. In a similar way to paternity leave and wellness services, companies that don’t offer some sort of flexibility (job sharing, telecommuting and part time options), will be left behind.
Another aspect which is considered a ‘perk’ for many is the blending of personal and professional time. The 4-day work week and other ways to compress the time in the office, enables employees to gain more balance between their personal and professional lives. As the pace of life increases, the need for this grows.
In terms of productivity, 4-day work weeks have shown to boost productivity. Microsoft Japan's office trial of a shortened week resulted in a 40% increase in productivity. Similar results have been seen in New Zealand.
Alternatives to the traditional work week offer employees an opportunity to enjoy a work life balance (also known as ‘’work life integration” which is possibly a more realistic way of considering this). As a result, holidays, flexi time and other paid time off has become an extremely valuable commodity in most work environments.
#2 – Agile work environments
With the fast pace of technological change and increasing prevalence of complex projects, many organisations are moving towards more agile work environments, methodologies and practices. Therefore, policies and processes that enhance how works gets completed, becomes increasingly important to consider.
Many organisations are shifting to an agile way of work, which includes changes to the workspace, redesigned to encourage more teamwork, collaboration, stand up meetings and other agile best practices.
High energy collaborative work is fast becoming the norm in many workplaces, as this way of working is seen as engaging for employees but also supports innovation and customer responsiveness.
It’s clear that the importance of maintaining work environments that support employees for success is a growing trend. Organisations are making considerable investments in technology, people and physical spaces to support their teams to work in the most productive ways.
#3 – corporate social responsibility
Increasingly, employees want to feel connected to a greater sense of purpose. This is particularly true with the younger generation, who want to make a difference and work for companies that have a high corporate social responsibility.
When choosing careers, job hunters want to know how their work will directly impact and support the organisations mission and vision. This trend sees employees gravitating towards companies they feel are fundamentally making the world a better place.
This alignment of values is becoming increasingly important. In my work as a career coach, I have noticed this trend in the types of conversations I have. Even in a competitive job market, employees are willing to change careers if their own personal values no longer align to that of the organisation.
For some, the impact they make may be on a smaller scale. For example, they want to know that the work they have done is making a small difference to someone’s day or they are happy to know that they are part of a team that together is making a larger difference.
Employees want a sense of connection to the broader mission and values, and this is seeing a trend in job hunters seeking out organisations with a strong social responsibility programmes and opportunities to volunteer.
#4 – Culture, culture, culture
In my role as a leadership coach, I have seen an increasing rise in companies wanting to improve their company culture.
This is partly in response to the fact that employees want to work within companies that truly care for their people. This is not just lip service but demonstrated care through their day to day practices.
Organisational culture undoubtedly has a tremendous impact on employee engagement levels and this trend seems to be increasing as younger employees, in particular, bring higher expectations in this regard.
Embracing diversity, more transparency and accountability are three of the key areas that prospective employees are looking at.
In my experience, the culture of an organisation is very much linked to its mindset. When an organisation has a mindset of learning, growing and serving both their staff and their customers, this is strongly reflected in their corporate culture and practices. These two aspects fundamentally go hand in hand.
As the trend shift more towards less complicated hierarchy, flatter organisational structures and more inclusive ways to make decision, this in turn creates change in the culture of an organisation.
Ultimately, a strong workplace culture results in an enhanced employee experience, which results in an exceptional customer experience.
As Ana Recio, EVP of Global Recruiting for Salesforce puts it
“We believe culture is our greatest differentiator and competitive advantage. We are highly intentional about our culture strategy – we write it down, we prioritize it, we build programs around it, we measure it, and we are constantly innovating on it.”
#5 – Workplace well-being
The complexities that result from the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) environment we work in means that a focus on employee well-being is essential and ever growing trend.
Research consistently shows that well executed employee well-being programmes can not only improve performance and productivity, but also reduces absences due to illness and helps to improve morale, trust and staff retention.
Well-being programmes can also address burnout. In the organisations I work within, I often support employees to put in place the habits and behaviours which will help them to manage stress levels and achieve more balance.
My emotional intelligence programmes enable individuals, especially leaders, to manage their emotions and create better relationships with their team. This enhances everyone’s day to day work environment and reduces long term impacts on well-being.
While the key elements – a supportive boss, meaningful work and fair compensation - will always be essential for attracting and retaining and engaged workforce, it’s also important to realise that in order to maintain this, companies need to listen to employees and keep in mind key trends in order to develop employees that grow and thrive.
For more information on developing a well-being programme for your organisation, contact us.