When Employees Lead: Thriving in an Employee-driven Job Market

Jan 12, 2023

In its annual survey of the US workforce, Employ has uncovered some startling data. Nearly 10 million people who were unemployed at the time of the 2021 survey. Just a year later, the labor market has shifted dramatically. Millions of job openings going unfilled have given rise to an employee-driven market: one in which employees feel empowered to demand more from their employers.

They’re getting more, too. Companies are seeing overall job satisfaction rates of 62%, but even those employees are open to new job opportunities, leaving companies scrambling to improve employee relations and company culture. It seemed to have worked, at least according to one study by Quartz/Qualtrics: 37% of employees surveyed reported increases in kindness, generosity, and supportiveness since the onset of the pandemic.

For employees and job seekers, that kind of supportive culture matters. As the pandemic bore down on all types of industries, employees working from home were not only trying to make the transition to remote work but also re-evaluating what they want out of their work and careers. Workplace satisfaction took a front seat, as did workplace flexibility and wellness.

When Prudential released its March 2021 Pulse of the American Worker Survey, the impact of the pandemic was evident. The survey found that 87% of American workers who were working remotely wanted to remain doing so, even on a hybrid basis, when offices reopened. Most employees surveyed (68%) said that a hybrid workplace model would be the best option for them.

It’s a wake-up call for employers and the message is clear: workers value companies that focus more on culture and employee wellness. But more than that, employee wellness includes their wellbeing – financial, physical, and emotional. A few shifts in how a company interacts with employees can make a significant impact on morale and employee satisfaction.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. At the core of the best workplace environments is an atmosphere of open communication. Your managers should be interacting with every employee every day in some way. We suggest providing several avenues for employees to reach out – instant message, email, video calls, etc. – and a revamping of your management process to put one-on-one and team communication at the forefront of every day.

Introduce flexibility. The demand on employees to balance more in their lives means they’re looking for employers who offer flexibility that allows them to manage both professional and personal lives. Work-from-home options allow the single parent to work while the children are home. Measuring performance based on results rather than hours worked gives employees freedom to work during their best hours, which may not be 9-to-5. Trusting employees to get the job done without micromanaging them instills trust and improves employee retention.

Invest in productivity. Believe it or not, the tools your employees use make a big impact on their productivity and their job satisfaction. Keep abreast of new technology. Invest in your technology infrastructure to ensure your employees have the best tools available.

Expand your workplace beyond the four walls. Work-from-home positions give your company an unexpected benefit – you are now able to recruit the best-fitting candidates from anywhere in the country. Those employees seeking full-time or even part-time remote positions are now considering applying to work for your company. And if your organization has implemented a flexible work culture, those same job seekers are even more interested.

By committing to management changes and cultural shifts that focus on the employee, your organization can make the necessary transition that attracts more job seekers. It can also improve productivity, morale, and improve communication throughout your organization. In a tough labor market, making those changes now can put your company well ahead of the competition now and into the future.


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