A new study from communications agency Zeno Group reveals a highly consequential employee turnover threat – a company’s own satisfied, contented workers. While companies often focus on addressing their disengaged or disgruntled groups, the study finds that 48% of satisfied employees report being open to new opportunities, with many actively searching.
In addition, those surveyed report their employers do not recognize this reality, with just 21% of respondents saying their employers think many workers are looking for new roles elsewhere.
Zeno’s study “A New Mindset at Work: The Evolving Workplace in 2021” surveyed more than 4,000 workers in four markets – the U.S., U.K., France, and China – to explore the changing relationship between employees and employers. The study considered employees’ expectations for the return to the office, their attitudes toward workplace mobility, and the importance of factors such as purpose, diversity, advancement and work-life balance through the lens of geographic regions and generations.
The study found a global workforce optimistic about the future, but one that expects – if not demands – a new working environment on their terms. Despite global challenges and concerns about the return to work, 54% of all employees believe that now is the time for a company to consider making major changes for their employees.
Beyond hybrid work and flexibility, which are seen as permanent expectations for the new workplace, the study reveals new brand imperatives for companies to retain employees. Professional growth and career mobility rank high among employees’ expectations, according to the study. Respondents in the U.S. said interesting work (79%), opportunities to grow (78%) and the ability to move within the company (73%) ranked high among their expectations for workplace loyalty. In all markets, workers were most satisfied with the safety and security they feel on the job; they were most dissatisfied with job growth/opportunities (outside their current employer).
Economic and future prospects are shaping employee views of the workplace. The study suggests employees perceive missing out on the economic recovery, with employees seeing a better economic future for their companies than for their own families. U.S. employees were nine points more likely to say their employer was “headed in the right direction” than their own family’s economic situation; the gap between perception of employer and family trajectory in both the U.K. and China was 13 points.
“Our findings should be a wake-up call for employers,” said Mark Shadle, Zeno’s Managing Director of Global Corporate Affairs. “Employees have redefined what they expect of their employers – the opportunity to move up, move ahead and achieve a bright future for themselves and their families. Leaders risk losing top talent if they don’t take a hard look at the opportunities they provide for meaningful work and growth as well as their workplace practices, such as flexible work arrangements.”
Across generations, U.S. millennials reported they are far happier with their jobs and “work life” than any other U.S. generation. In fact, they are 21 points higher than respondents 55 years and up. While in China the opposite is true: 69% of people 55+ rated “work life” highly compared to 47% of Gen Z respondents.
The study also shows how employees’ values are shifting and how these changes shape their views on the workplace. Out of 37 values, “power” was one of the top 3 declining values in the U.S, U.K., and China. Instead, people chose “protecting the family” as one of the top values in all four markets (U.S., U.K. and France no.1, and no. 4 in China).
Additional findings from the study:
Values Shaping the New Mindset
While employees continue to say that work is an important part of their identity (71%), protecting the family, enjoying life, and health and wellness are the top rising values. By contrast, the top declining values are power, status and adventure.
Family Time Matters
Respondents across all markets wish they spent more time offline with their family: U.S. (78%), U.K. (77%), France (79%), and China (95%).
A Strong Company Purpose is Important, But Lacking for Many
In all markets, employees were more likely to work at a company that operates with a clear and strong purpose. Across all regions, over 70% of employees say they would perform better at their jobs if they had a clear understanding of their company’s mission and values – a 21-point increase from a 2015 Zeno Group study.
Additionally, 80%+ reported they would be more likely to work at a company that lives by a clear and strong purpose, yet only around 50% of respondents felt their current company had one.
Among U.S. Gen Z respondents, 76% would be willing to accept a job earning less money if it was for an employer that shared their personal values and had a strong social purpose.
Employers Are Not Meeting Employees’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Expectations
DE&I is a top concern for most employees across all markets when evaluating a potential employer. In the U.S., 73% identified DE&I as “extremely” or “very” important to employment decisions. In every market, a double-digit gap exists between the percentage of employees who view DE&I as important and those who believe their employer performs strongly in the area.
DE&I and company purpose are deeply intertwined. In the U.S., U.K., and China, nearly 50% of employees consider having a diverse workforce and inclusive company culture one of the most important elements of a purposeful company, trailing only proper treatment of employees in that category.
More details about the “New Mindset at Work” study are available HERE. Learn more about Zeno Group and its capabilities at ZenoGroup.com or on social media at LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.