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6 Trends Hammering Today’s Workplace (And How Employee Surveys Help)

Today’s workplace trends continue to cause a dramatic shift for organizations, employees, customers, and suppliers. Paraphrasing the cliché, “The only real known is that change is a constant.” That’s why constant awareness of what’s going on — and adjusting appropriately — is critical.

We may not be certain of what lies ahead, but we know that six workplace trends mark the early 2020s. And we know we’d better be all over them now in preparation for what’s to come.

Agility

Three-quarters of 2,500 surveyed business leaders rank agility as a top-three priority.

Employees have their ears to the ground through their own networks, contacts with customers, experiences with processes, procedures, and management. What are they seeing and hearing? What gaps in expectations exist? Where are the opportunities for improvement?

Being able to spot patterns and shifts quickly gives leaders the agility to change tack better than less nimble competitors. And a workforce invited to share insights regularly augments the ability to act with agility.

Enabling Remote Work

Remote work stats are as trendy these days as witty memes. Studies indicate 52% of global employees work remotely once a week, and 68% do so at least once per month. Work from Home (WFM) models are relatively new. There’s the physical environment — ensuring people have the tools and resources. And there’s the mental side — specifically, providing support and resources that can help with stress, anxiety, and isolation.

We often get caught up in ensuring everyone has access to the ‘same’ or ‘equal’ opportunities. However, diverse employee populations have different experiences and different needs. While the glass ceiling impedes women and members of minorities, ‘virtual’ walls have now been added into the mix, threatening the progress of current and aspiring employees.

Are remote workers being enabled in a way that works for them — and you? The only way to know is to ask.

Prioritizing Mental Health in the Workplace

Remote workers exposed to the stress of isolation, and on-site employees faced with potential virus exposure, are projected to trigger behavioral health conditions of pandemic proportions. Exhausted, anxious, and often sleep-deprived, many people show up at work — virtually or in-person — despite mental or physical ailments. For many organizations, the result is immense productivity losses and increasing risks.

Today, employers are facing a potential mental health crisis. They need a window into employees’ hearts and minds, especially those absent from the physical work world. At the same time, it’s vital to recognize specific employee populations need more support in dealing with their personal life circumstances than others. For instance, anxiety and depression figures reported in December 2020 are higher for Latinx (46.3%) and Black respondents (48%) than the overall 42.4%average.

How do we know who needs what support? And whether it’s effective?

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

Employees have become more outspoken about the discriminatory treatment they’ve observed or experienced in the workplace. Creating a safe environment for people to speak up and feel like they belong is a hot topic among executive leaders.

Employees are your compass when navigating matters of DEI. Their insights point a way forward and help keep your organization informed and on track. But change has never been as fast and as furious — nor as forcefully dominant — as it is today. And employee sentiment is far from immune to this tide of transformation.

Reaching an intended DEI destination depends on continuously checking coordinates — the voice of employees — and making adjustments as the winds change.

Frequent Surveys

Frequently monitoring the pulse of employees is helping more leaders make the right kinds of decisions across issues like agility, mental health, DEI, and more. Here at WorkTango, more than half of the organizations we support that weren’t already offering pulse surveys or using the active listening model have started to shift how they collect input from employees. Those companies now see higher participation than ever, with many receiving upward of 85% to 90% response rates. Why? When surveys are contextually relevant to an employee’s experience, they want to give feedback.

The themes associated with frequent pulsing can be around anything – whatever’s important in the moment. It’s an ongoing process to gather and understand sentiments around all the moving parts of your organization.

The bottom line: Pulsing is a diagnostics tool that gives leaders something they can focus on—and ignites a shift from measurement to action.

Heightened Accountability

Regularly checking in to get employee feedback gives leaders a quick snapshot of whether the actions they’ve taken are working. We then inextricably link accountability with these quantitative and qualitative insights.

With more frequent measurement, leaders tend to listen more. They take steps, actively review progress, make tweaks, and cycle through the process — fine-tuning as they go. The data collected and shared puts the onus on functional leaders and hiring managers. Because seeing their survey score — how they’re trending and their own personal management results (and knowing that data is public to the executive team) — creates built-in accountability.

The thread that links these six trends?

Actively listening to the voice of employees and using scientifically validated data to guide meaningful actions.

Centralized Survey Structures in Today’s Workplace

A centralized survey tool helps your organization measure and adapt to the needs of your human capital throughout the employee lifecycle.  Whether your approach is to gather employee engagement insights annually or to run more frequent pulse surveys, a single survey platform is where the real power of data can be found.

Plus, whether giving feedback or for reporting, it’s easier for employees to use and get comfortable with one platform. So when choosing a survey tool, look for a single platform that eliminates the need for multiple vendors and the time involved to learn and support various platforms.

We’ve been going through more disruptive shifts in the last 15 months than we have in the past 15 years. To paraphrase Charles Darwin this time: “It’s not the strongest or most intelligent that survive, but the ones most responsive to change.”

For organizations, that responsiveness comes from listening to employees frequently and attentively. Using a centralized survey platform to obtain real-time insights into workplace issues that matter now — or point to potential trends and taking pre-emptive action to keep a step ahead — helps make active listening a critical element of your company culture.

 

Want to know more about WorkTango? Listen to our own Cyndy Trivella’s thoughts on this 2021 TalentCulture HR Tech Award winner: