The power dynamics of the workplace are shifting.
And, in a time of crisis where people are proving to be the most valuable asset – to organisations of any scale, industry or region – that power is shifting in the hands of employees, according to a new workforce study.
More than half of employees polled by global communications specialist BCW said they wield the power to influence decision-making in the workplace today, more than they did a year ago when the pandemic began.
• 54% believe they have more influence over business strategy
• 55% – more influence on company culture
• 59% – more influence on workplace experience
"This sense of influence has led to employees asserting pressure on their employers to demonstrate meaningful action toward articulating and 'living' their company's purpose, furthering sustainability and ESG priorities, and running their business in a more equitable way," BCW found.
"In addition, employees increasingly expect their voices to be heard and their leadership to be accessible to them."
Leaders who listen are on the forefront of this evolving landscape. But how can the modern-day CEO respond to the call of a more vocal, more socially aware and even more politically engaged workforce? The study highlighted a way forward, as proposed by employees:
• 90% of all employees surveyed said the CEO should advocate for ethical work practices
• 87% – the CEO should advocate for more environmentally sustainable supply chains
• 87% – the CEO should encourage more environmentally sustainable practices from the organisation's business partners
• 87% – the CEO should be accessible to all levels of the organisation
This climate of the empowered employee is more clearly seen among the youngest workers: Generation Z, who are breaking into the workforce amid the disruption. Younger workers said they feel empowered to influence business strategy (65%), culture (64%) and workplace experience (67%) despite the hardship of the past 18 months.
In fact, the COVID-19 crisis has cast a new light on what workers – no matter their age group – expect from their organisations. These include:
• Doing meaningful work
• Feeling supported and valued by their line manager
• Feeling supported and valued by their immediate team
• Having workplace benefits and perks
• Witnessing effective leadership
"These employee demands are seen across all five generations of the global workforce and while workforce demands vary from industry to industry, organisations that listen and take employee demands seriously will reap the rewards," BCW said.
Failure to live up to employee expectations could cause attrition to rise, with younger employees leaving within the next year, the firm predicts.