This is the era of the employee, but bosses need to lead

As workplace culture becomes increasingly valued and prioritised, new research from management consultant MovePlan suggests that it is time to start co-designing culture with employees

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, 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.

‘The past 18 months have proved that businesses can nurture culture and collaboration whether in the office or not…’

Management consultant MovePlan recently surveyed nearly 1,200 employees (both at junior and senior levels), and 45 per cent ranked ‘team, people and culture’ as most the important aspect when choosing a job, followed by flexible working (39 per cent), 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 media. 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 per cent 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 per cent of senior execs and 38 per cent of employees). Just 3 per cent of employees would work from an office full-time again.

Where next for business leaders?

Employees are being more vocal about their expectations, and employers are listening. In the same survey we conducted recently, 76 per cent 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 their employees, and the importance of their role to listen and then lead the way.

‘Business leaders can use the pandemic as a catalyst to reinvent culture…’

Business leaders can help their people find purpose and direction. During the pandemic, 34 per cent 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.

Entering new era

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.

Read about the MovePlan research  here.

Siobhan Byrnes is the Regional Director of EMEA at MovePlan. MovePlan supports businesses at a time of change. As we navigate the new normal, MovePlan can help you master change and create your workplace of choice. To discuss how MovePlan can help you, contact the team here. MovePlan is a Corporate Member of WORKTECH Academy.
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