4 February 2020

What employees really want from the future of work

Change. It’s the new business as usual for companies who want to maintain a competitive edge.

According to McKinsey, a whopping $2 trillion is spent each year on business transformation. And with 70% of change efforts failing, that’s $1.4 trillion wasted – enough to buy Apple!

So, with businesses spending more than ever on large-scale digital transformation, is the human element of change being overlooked?

We believe that for organisations to give themselves the best chance of success when it comes to business transformation, they have  to focus on people. Invest in employees and bring them along on the transformation journey by understanding how they can champion change.


But what do employees really want from their employer during times of change?

At Synergy, we set out to try and answer this question. We surveyed 3,000 people across the UK from a range of industries, business types and age groups to find out what they expect from employers now and in the future, the top 10 reasons they might leave their job and the impact that leadership and culture can have on successful change.

All of these insights and more have been wrapped up into one easy to read report. Sign up to receive a copy and learn more about:

  • What employees expect from employers
  • Drivers and motivators for high-performance teams
  • The impact leadership and culture can have on change
  • The top 10 reasons employees would leave their job
  • Tips and practical guidance on engaging employees through organisational change

And read on for a sneak peak of what the report covers…


The happiness factor

While 14% of people surveyed reported they were ‘very satisfied’ at work, 38% of millennials said they were ‘certain’ or ‘very likely’ to look for a new job in 2020. Keeping people engaged in their roles is vital to retain top talent. So what reasons did people give for why they might leave a job?


Despite constant change and turbulent times in the economic and political arenas, change featured low on the list of what might encourage people to leave their current role. Turns out, as humans, we don’t really mind change. In fact, we’re pretty good at it.

We change our jobs, move house, change relationships. We’re going through change all the time – by the time you finish reading this sentence, 50 million of your cells will have died and new ones will replace them. We’re quite literally hardwired for it!

So, if you want to attract, engage and retain brilliant people, and bring them with you on transformative journeys, it’s vital to focus on what really matters to them.

Make your work environments enjoyable places to be. Demonstrate that you trust people to do a great job. Train line managers to become excellent communicators and leaders.


Could it be time to archive the 9-5?

Our research found that 31% of full time employees want to leave their current employer. Compare this to just 26% of part time/flexible employees and you’ve got a fairly compelling case for ensuring your employees can work flexibly.

And it’s not just about everyone having a laptop and ensuring you have a messaging platform like Slack, Workplace or Skype for Business in place (though those things will certainly help!). Trust people to work remotely and ensure that even those who aren’t based at a desk feel included and engaged.


Encourage your in-house entrepreneurs

According to our research, almost half of people want to work for themselves (47%). And a third of people are looking to quit this year to do just that.

In the age of the internet, where a lot of young people have a ‘side hustle’ and are working on their own entrepreneurial ventures, it could be well within the interests of your organisation to do your best to keep that brilliant business acumen in-house.

Googlers can spend 20% of their time on passion projects; it’s how Google Maps and Gmail came to be. And sure, we’re not all Google, but how about opening suggestions for improvements up to your people and seeing what they come up with? When Waitrose did this, it saved them £160k worth of till roll after employee Janet suggested optimising and refining the information on the receipts. Remember – no-one knows more about what’s going on in the business than those on the front line.


The purpose of leaders

Having strong leaders in place during times of change is crucial. And this doesn’t just mean the senior leadership team or C-suite. Line managers are key to role modelling the change that you need to see in an organisation. 15% of people don’t feel supported by their line managers and as we’ve all heard about how “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers”.

Treating line managers as leaders and giving them the appropriate training for the job is key. Not everyone is a manager out of choice, and not all managers are natural communicators, so supporting them to support teams is important.


Empowered workforces

Employees want to feel that their input counts, but only 57% of women feel that their point of view is valued by their organisation, compared with 62% of men. And just 53% of employees in big businesses, both male and female, feel listened to. If people feel that their contributions are stifled, it could make or break your transformation efforts.

Using regular pulse checks to gather insights from your workforce can ensure that people feel like their opinion is valued. Allowing people the capacity and opportunities to be empowered can lead to change being successfully embedded. 


The role of culture

Remember that transformation doesn’t come wrapped in a box. It’s not just about processes, managing people and new tech. The culture of an organisation has a huge part to play in how successful transformation will be. 

Increasingly, people want to work for organisations that have strong values. Only 56% of people working in businesses with more than 500 employees think their company acts on its values. This can lead people to feel disengaged and mean that change efforts aren’t bought into.

It’s vital to think of the ‘people element’ of change, encouraging everyone to live and breathe the transformation. Building a culture of open communication where people are ready and willing to adapt through change can make the process smoother for everyone.


The importance of incentives

When people feel motivated and rewarded, they’re more likely to embrace change and adapt to the organisation’s direction. 66% of people in small to medium-sized businesses feel recognised for their work.

Incentives can help to boost these statistics and make people feel more engaged, leading to more productive workforces. And they don’t have to be as big as a company car or huge bonuses; small things like flexible working and giving employees their birthdays off can make a difference to people’s willingness to help reach your transformation goals.


Where do you go from here?

An employee-first mindset

Ultimately, effective communication is the key to unlocking the benefits that digital transformation can bring. It’s no longer a buzzword or a nice-to-do. It’s a necessity in the constantly changing world of business. But the most important thing to remember is that people are pivotal to transformation. They must be empowered, engaged and trusted to implement the change you want to see for it to work.

Employees are your agents of change and brand ambassadors. The importance of making sure they are invested in the transformation shouldn’t be underestimated.


Want more of these juicy insights? Grab a copy of the full report now to uncover the full findings. 

If you want to hear more about how we went about this research, or chat to us about transformation in your business, get in touch.

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