Great Place to Work recently released a report where they predict three key trends for the workplace culture of the future. Fair warning: If "culture" is not yet a business priority for your company, this may change your mind. From the report:

  • In a recent survey of CEOs by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 41 percent cited workplace culture as the aspect of their talent strategy that would make the greatest impact on attracting and retaining the people needed to remain competitive.
  • Nearly seven in ten executives in a recent Deloitte survey on the future of the workplace said company culture will be critical to realizing their organizational mission. By contrast, only 14 percent said culture had little or no impact.
  • In its 2017 CEO Challenge, the Conference Board found that building an open and inclusive culture that lets talent thrive is a top concern among CEOs globally

The research, which covers over 20 years of studying Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For," affirms that a trust-based culture is a strong driver of successful businesses everywhere.

In fact, employees who said they have a great place to work were 13 times more likely to say "they want to work there for a long time", and 20 times more likely to say "their workplaces exhibit traits linked to innovation," compared to employees at peer companies.

The 3 Predictions for the Workplace Culture of the Future

Looking into their very reliable crystal ball, it's a safe bet that the trends we have seen for 20 years will continue for the next 20 and beyond. Great Place to Work believe we will see three key trends:

Prediction 1: A Fairer Workplace for All Employees

A high-trust culture reported in Best Companies starts with a shared sense of fairness. While fairness is broad and can be perceived in many different ways, the research nails down fairness in Best Companies as:

  • Promoting people who best deserve them.
  • People getting paid fairly for the work they do.
  • Avoiding politicking and backstabbing as ways to get things done.
  • Managers avoiding playing favorites.
  • Everyone having an opportunity to get special recognition.
  • People being treated as full members regardless of their positions.
  • Enhancing communication to promote the free flow of information through increased transparency and idea-sharing.

Prediction 2: Increased Focus on Developing All Employees

The report states that "over the past 20 years, Best Companies have consistently stood apart for their efforts to help employees reach their full potential. This trend is still true today."

It's important to note that training opportunities aren't limited to current leaders or "high potential" employees. At Best Companies, employee across roles have access to real-time feedback and growth opportunities, enabling them to reach their potential.

Development isn't restricted to one-time events or classroom-style "programs." At Ernst & Young and TDIndustries, for instance, they have replaced yearly performance reviews with feedback offered in real time or during career-centered conversations held on a quarterly basis.

Prediction 3: A Deeper Sense of Purpose For All Employees

Let me ask you something: Do employees feel a sense of purpose at your company? I say this because at Best Companies, connecting employees to a deeper sense of purpose and meaning at work was a key focus this year.

In the research, 85 percent of employees reported that their work has "special meaning: this is not 'just a job." And 91 percent report that "when I look at what we accomplish, I feel a sense of pride"

Beyond connecting employees to meaning and purpose in their work, volunteerism and philanthropy activities at Best Companies are key differentiators. 93 percent of employees "feel good about the ways we contribute to the community," and over half of companies offer employees paid time off to volunteer.

At VMware, cross-functional teams spend three months honing their leadership skills on international projects, such as educational programs at orphanages in Vietnam and schools in South Africa.

This leads to business outcomes. The report states: "People who felt their employers made a positive impact on the world were:

  • 4x more likely to report they work on teams that give extra.
  • 11x more committed to stay with their organizations.
  • 14x more likely to look forward to coming to work.

Bringing It Home

I would wager on these predictions hands-down. There's enormous potential in organizations that value fairness, employee development, and purposeful work. While no company is perfect, employees then, now, and in the future will continue to be searching for workplaces that give them a positive work experience -- where they are valued as human beings and are given the freedom to make decisions.

Published on: May 24, 2017
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