For the last year or more, we have all thought about the concept of ‘the other side.’ What will the world look like on the other side of near-constant volatility, uncertainty, pressure and social change? In business, we have heard experts characterize the other side in dramatic terms, like The Great Reset, The Great Return, the Next Normal, the Big Quit and the Great Resignation. Whatever trendwatchers might call this coming era, everyone seems to agree there’s something very different ahead.
When it comes to the workplace, the journey to the other side has been met with great anticipation and even greater uncertainty. To better understand what this might mean for the evolving relationship between employers and employees, Zeno Group conducted a comprehensive study of the global workplace and the forces reshaping it.
Our 2021 “New Mindset at Work” global study of more than 4,000 workers in the U.S., U.K., France and China revealed a workplace in change – with employees simultaneously fragile and uncertain, yet also optimistic and eager for a new working environment.
In the data, we observed an emerging new dynamic between employers and employees, with both sides navigating a new era of workplace policies, issues and expectations. We noted a broad change in attitudes toward work – resulting in a new mindset about what defines the new ‘workplace,’ about the expectations of what a job should deliver, and what being a good employer means. We observed that societal changes are no longer external forces to monitor, but now are factors in daily workplace decision-making behaviors.
Our study found a particularly worrisome challenge for management: employee retention. The data revealed the potential for employee turnover even among satisfied, contented employees. What employees appear to want most – and what would keep them in their jobs – are opportunities to grow and advance. Employees who do not see future growth in their roles are ready and willing to seek it elsewhere.
Among our findings:
- 48% of satisfied employees report being open to new opportunities
- 21% say their employers do not recognize how many employees are looking elsewhere
- 27% of employed workers are actively looking for new opportunities
- 72% do not want their work environment to return to how it was before the pandemic
- 70% or more want to work remotely several days per week
- 73% say the ability to move within the company would inspire loyalty to their employer
- 54% of employees think now is the time for companies to make workplace changes
With employees clearly expecting change in the workplace, now is the time for company leadership to demonstrate that they are aware and listening. Employers should not wait for business pressures to ease; they should engage with employees now to evaluate and align on the expectations of their workforce for the future.
Only by taking an honest look at current workplace policies, including those related to flexibility, meaningful work and growth, and committing to addressing the gaps, will companies see success on “the other side.”
Mark Shadle is Managing Director of Global Corporate Affairs at Zeno Group. He leads an integrated global team that helps clients to advance, protect and defend their corporate and brand reputations. Mark directed two previous Zeno employee engagement studies, including the 2019 “Barriers to Employee Engagement”.
LinkedIn: Mark Shadle