Within the past three years, the concept of the workplace has evolved in ways unimaginable before as the fusion of flexible work arrangements and the global pandemic has seamlessly woven work into the fabric of our daily lives. No longer content with positions of employment, individuals now seek a profound sense of community and purpose within their professional environment. In essence, what’s being sought is nothing less than a cultural connection.
Due to this paradigm shift, organisations today must centre their focus on employees and foster an environment where diverse individuals can flourish. What were formerly considered value-addons are now seen as fundamental building blocks for a successful, people-centric culture. Here, we delve into those most important for organisations to embrace for the rest of 2023.
Harmonising Technology and Culture
While technology and culture may seem like separate entities, the truth is that together they shape the modern workplace. Instead of viewing technology only as a support system that enables us to do our jobs, organisations must synergise it with an effective people culture. By creating a seamless union, technology can keep individuals connected, promote collaboration, enhance operability and create a profound sense of belonging.
For instance, consider a scenario where a company implements cutting-edge communication software that allows employees to collaborate effortlessly from remote locations. By facilitating virtual team meetings, real-time document sharing, and instant messaging, this technology promotes collaboration and keeps employees connected regardless of their physical proximity. As a result, teams work more cohesively, and the sense of belonging to a unified workforce is strengthened.
This is backed by a recent report from Greenhouse, which found that many workers asserted that video conferencing increases employee engagement, and almost half (47 per cent) highlighted how it met their preference of a hybrid workplace model.
Development pathways tend to vary – some may be experiential, and others involve formal learning settings, but among the most potent is coaching. Coaching transcends conventional teaching; it’s about understanding an individual’s aspirations, identifying their growth areas, and engaging in thought-provoking dialogues that empower them to form their own unique solutions. These partnerships encourage individual progression by embracing several roles that may range from mentor and advisor to counsellor and tutor, but it remains crucial to stay neutral as the main intention is to help the individuals achieve their goals, their way.
However, there are of course limits to the number of roles a leader should play. If people come to you with a personal problem, it’s okay to admit if you do not have an answer, but you need to know who to pass them on to for the information they need.
Mapping Talent: A Long-Term Perspective
The pandemic birthed an extremely challenging hiring market, which remains to this day. According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK employment rate remains below pre-pandemic levels three years on.
In a recent Gartner survey on employee career preferences, only one in four employees voiced confidence about their career path at their organisation, and three out of four admitted to looking for a new role in external positions. Therefore, knowing and helping your staff with what they want to achieve and improve upon is growing in importance for retention and preventing them from looking elsewhere to grow and develop.
Organisations can also effectively begin to target potential employees by effectively mapping the talent market. Building relationships with educational institutions, running apprenticeships, and hosting career events attract young talent, fostering mutual appreciation and engagement. Similarly, pipelining across seniorities helps identify talented people and track them throughout their careers.
Being Open about DE&I
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) employment has risen in priority in recent years and more emphasis is being put on organisations to be transparent and publicise their progress.
The clamour for practical change, reflected in workforce statistics, corporate goals and vision statements, drives a genuine commitment to DEI, but will only take you so far. Tangible steps to show that you care about the issues faced and are working on improvements positions you as a more credible employer and business partner.
Research from Pew shows that underrepresented employees face a much slower rate of promotion. Using objective data, organisations are evaluating their decision-making when hiring or promoting, rather than putting too much credence on the value of ‘gut feeling.’ Leaders should continue to work with HR to identify the gaps in your talent pool in order to set up localised teams to address issues directly.
Understanding Employee Needs
Amidst the ‘Great Resignation’, valuing employees has become paramount. Beyond competitive compensation, recognising employees as individuals fosters loyalty and optimal performance. Recognising and treating employees as human beings, rather than simply employees, enhances engagement and enables organisations to tailor relevant incentives to individual lifestyles and work preferences.
Evolving Benefits for a Unified Journey
As organisations and individuals continuously evolve, benefits should mirror this dynamic. Regularly updating benefits and incentives – highlighting them and raising awareness of them on social platforms – and facilitating engagement through benefits fairs exemplify further an organisation’s commitment to employee well-being and growth.
Embracing the Permanence of Flexibility
Research from Gartner shows that 66 per cent of HR leaders say their organisations have a hybrid work model and 30 per cent say they are planning to adopt one. As such, it’s imperative for businesses to evolve their policies to accommodate this standard.
The global shift toward flexible work arrangements is also validated by evidence of increased productivity and job satisfaction. While the hybrid model gains prominence, organisations must prioritise trust as a foundation for flexible work. Balancing remote work with in-person collaboration strengthens workplace culture and underscores commitment to employee empowerment.
Crafting a Unique Identity
Smaller organisations must play to their strengths to stand out in a competitive market. Through surveys, focus groups, and network analysis, organisations can understand their distinct value to employees and contribute to the development of a robust employer value proposition.
In the ever-evolving landscape of 2023, organisational culture stands as a defining factor in attracting and retaining talent. The one-dimensional transactional relationship between employer and employee has evolved into a multifaceted connection that shapes both professional and personal lives.
By nurturing inclusivity, supporting growth, and embracing flexibility, organisations transcend traditional boundaries to create a culture that not only thrives, but sets the stage for future success.
Derek Mackenzie is the CEO (UK and Europe) of Investigo, a leading recruitment company covering more than 20 specialist areas. With over 25 years’ experience, he’s a renowned figure in the recruitment industry with particular expertise in technology, change and transformation, and strategy. He’s also a leading changemaker and passionate advocate for DEI, recently launching Campaign, the UK’s first LGBTQ+ business network for the recruitment industry.