The media frequently covers news about innovative employee programs and benefits. Consider Starbucks’ emergency child and adult care benefit that includes ten days of covered care per year with Care.com. Other recent news includes companies that let employees purchase any book they want for learning and Basecamp’s $5,000 yearly use-it-or-lose it travel fund.
These moves by employers are more than a trend and more than just providing a perk. They represent a fundamental shift in workplace culture. Modern workplace culture is uprooting traditional workplace culture, which operates under a layered hierarchy, promotes work/life compartmentalization and has strict policies about when and where work gets done.
Rising employee expectations are driving this shift to workplace cultures that support more collaboration, holistic well-being, flexibility and development. More and more, employees want to work for employers that have shared values, flat organizational structures, open communication and more work/life flexibility.
The business impact of modern workplace culture
According to Gallup’s 2018 State of the American Workplace report, more than half of employees are not engaged in their work. When employees aren’t engaged, it negatively affects the organization’s bottom line. Gallup found in a separate report that organizations with high employee engagement have better customer engagement, productivity, retention and profitability. Modern workplace culture is more than an employment trend; it affects a company’s bottom line and its ability to compete.
Modern workplace culture also drives higher employee engagement through an emphasis on two-way communication, collaboration and authentically integrating the organization’s purpose throughout the culture and employee experience. Employees feel more invested in their work when they believe in an organization’s purpose, feel aligned with its values and clearly see how they can make a real impact.
Building and nurturing a modern workplace culture drives more meaningful employee engagement, which directly impacts an organization’s productivity, profitability and growth. It’s good for employees and good for business.
The modern workplace culture competitive difference
In today’s knowledge-based economy, talent provides a critical competitive difference. But getting and keeping that talent is challenging, especially as organizations face an increasingly tight and fast-moving talent market. In fact, studies predict that 35% of employees will leave their jobs to work somewhere else by 2023.
Having a modern workplace culture is an effective way to attract and retain talent. Employees want to work for organizations that offer flexible scheduling, work-from-home arrangements and growth opportunities, and they’re leaving jobs that burn them out. Modern workplace culture demonstrates — through more than just words — that employee growth and well-being is a priority. When nurtured successfully, modern workplace culture reduces costs associated with attracting and retaining talent. It’s essential to securing an organization’s competitive advantage.
The evolution of employee expectations
Millennials, which now make up the largest generation in the workforce, are primarily responsible for driving the shift to modern workplace culture. They expect organizations to take a stand on important environmental issues and social issues like diversity and inclusion, and they expect their voice to be heard by employers. Millennials also have less trust for people in positions of authority, which makes transparent and authentic communication critical for modern workplace culture. Older generations — including Gen X and Baby Boomers — have also come to appreciate and often expect similar experiences and interactions in their workplace.
While millennials have heavily influenced how workplace cultures are evolving, expectations will continue to shift as new generations enter the workforce. Modern workplace culture recognizes that employee expectations are always evolving and understands the value of consistently listening and responding to changing needs. Organizations that proactively seek employee input and ideas are best equipped to flow with market changes and solve challenges in a way that keeps employees engaged and feeling valued. Modern workplace culture is always changing to meet market demands.
Modern workplace culture is no longer a nice-to-have for organizations. It impacts business metrics and affects an organization’s ability to attract talent. Expectations will continue to evolve and those who haven’t activated modern workplace culture will be left behind.
New, more diverse generations will enter the workforce with new expectations, and technology will continue to evolve. Organizations should regularly evaluate their workplace culture to measure how it’s stacking up to the demands of the market.
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About Ayme Zemke, SVP, Client Services
Ayme has the gift of understanding – the ability to see people’s needs and make meaningful connections that build trust. But that’s just part of what makes her a master of client service. Her clients and teams quickly learn that her insights get to the heart of what really matters to move businesses forward with purpose.