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Culture Gets Human

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A close friend is deep in the throes of a job hunt. While he’s been with his current company for seven years, he’s seeking new opportunities now. There are a few traditional reasons, such as the fact that there aren’t a lot of chances for him to take on new projects or grow his career, or that his compensation is stagnant. But perhaps the most important reason is that my friend, once a work-from-home skeptic, adjusted his lifestyle to accommodate teleworking during the pandemic, and now that he’s experienced all the benefits that a flexible work environment can offer, he’s hooked. He’s had more time with loved ones (particularly his children); less time spent commuting and therefore more time available for hobbies or athletic pursuits (he’s become very fond of his morning neighborhood stroll); and the ability to pitch in more with household chores and the caring of an ill and elderly relative. However, his current employer is still operating as if it’s 2019 and this flexibility is a temporary situation. Its return-to-office plans make no mention of telecommuting, asynchronous working or flexible schedules.

This is a big mistake. A new report from LinkedIn Talent Solutions called the 2022 Global Talent Trends finds that company culture has undergone a massive overhaul—and more and more employees are thinking like my friend. “[Culture] is being reshaped in a crucible fired by the pandemic, the acceleration of automation, the rise of millennials and Gen Z in the workforce, and the Great Reshuffle,” the report noted. “Employees are demanding—and quite often getting—more freedom to work where and when they want and more attention to their well-being.”

The report found that this new culture embraces employees as humans first and workers second, with “flexibility, asynchrony, trust, belonging, and a holistic focus on well-being” becoming the most important qualities in a workplace.

For me, one of the most interesting tidbits from the study was that flexibility wasn’t just good for employees—it can help companies, too, by driving them “away from presenteeism and toward performance.” It takes a strong, authentic company culture to support this, because accountability and trust are paramount, but it also means this structure “will work well no matter what time zone you live in or what time of day you do your work.” And when employees are satisfied with their companies’ time and location flexibility, they’re 2.6 times more likely to be happy at their jobs, and more than twice as likely to recommend working for that company, LinkedIn found.

Clearly, we’re never returning to (work) life as we knew it. What are some ways your company culture has shifted, and what are you doing to help mold it to this new, flexible future?

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