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Leadership Development

Trends in the Workplace: What Do Employees Want?


Employees Have Worries. Here’s How We Can Help.

With everything L&D has on its plate, how can we best keep tabs on what employees want in 2023 and beyond?

It has been an interesting couple of years, and maybe we all thought that once business settled in, post-pandemic, that work would somehow return to “normal.” Instead, markets are more volatile, change is rampant, outcomes are less clear, and—not surprisingly—employees are seeking more stability in the face of uncertainty.

Understand How Employees Think About Work

It’s no secret that in the face of uncertainty, employees need support and empowerment to keep from burning out, to reskill to meet the demands of a changing workplace and to feel properly appreciated and compensated.

While every employee in your organization may not be on a leadership or management track, every employee can go the extra mile when needed, if they feel connected and supported at work. To help the L&D and HR function better understand employee priorities, we narrowed in on some major trends that we can use to help employees become more resilient and confident.*

Intent to Stay

Pay, benefits, and financial security—not surprisingly—are the top reasons that employees give for their intention to stay in a position. Many employees dug deep to help organizations weather the pandemic storm, but do not currently feel they are rewarded for that loyalty or performance.

What employees want: Employees want to work for organizations that will continue to be successful in the face of change, and pay a competitive salary. Companies can demonstrate they are navigating changing waters by ensuring their products and services meet customer expectations, and fit into the changing marketplace. In addition, employees want teamwork, collaboration, good communication, and to be treated fairly, with trust and respect.

Work-Life Balance

A lot has been written over the years about work-life balance, but now is the time to take that need seriously. Herculean efforts are just not sustainable, and it is no surprise that quiet quitting and burnout are on the rise. The good news is that when employees' work-life balance is high, they are much more likely to go “above and beyond” for their organizations.

What employees want: To improve on their work-life balance, employees want continued flexibility and efficiency in how they perform their work, and to be checked in on by their organizations to ensure they are not being overwhelmed or subjected to “job creep”. They want to be treated with transparency and respect, and to be offered more and different ways to work that might reduce stress on themselves and their families.

Bad Processes Accelerate Burnout

Even though many organizations pivoted to new processes and technologies during the pandemic, workplace inefficiencies and legacy processes have not kept up with the demand on employee time and workloads. Many employees report they are not equipped with the right tools or processes, and that is leading to poor productivity and more susceptibility to burnout.

What employees want: Employees want flexibility, to be listened to, and to not continually be going above and beyond to maintain the status quo. Organizations can perform and act on engagement surveys to help keep a pulse on employee wellbeing, increase team building and camaraderie opportunities, and focus on transparency, delivering information promptly, and investing in new systems and processes so employees don’t feel left behind.

Values for the Win

Remember the Great Resignation? While many factors were at play, we can easily see the connection between employees wanting to work for or with an organization that reflects their values and offers them a way to feel more connected to the role work plays in their lives. The simple fact is that employees have demonstrated they will not work in or accept a toxic work environment.

What employees want: Make it easier for employees to stay! Successful companies will have the right mix of working conditions, best practices, alignment, and demonstration of values, especially from managers. Investing in the growth and development of employees is key here—especially if training and development took a backseat during the pandemic.

Building and cultivating a supportive work environment with equal opportunities for all shouldn’t be the exception, it can be the norm. Start by investing in your people: Uncover opportunities for improvement through feedback and listening. Look for the areas in your organization where you can match employee wants. (And don’t assume it's just about compensation.) Provide training and development opportunities, and take a very hard look at process improvements. If in doubt, start to ask your employees, leaders, or managers how they feel, and what they need to be better at work.

*Inspiration for this article is from Qualtrics' survey of a a global mix of 28,000 professionals across multiple industries in Q3 2022, resulting in their 2023 Employee Experience Trends Report.

Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

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Lauren Parkhill

Lauren Parkhill leads the marketing team in creating creative content that helps organizations develop their leaders and teams.