Record low unemployment is shifting the power dynamic within the HR department

Heightened social activism and hot-button trends have employees reconsidering how they think and feel about their employers, according to a new global survey released today by Globoforce’s WorkHuman Analytics & Research Institute. The report, “Social Impact in the Human Workplace,” surveyed more than 3,600 people in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland. The study examines how movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp along with record low unemployment are causing a power shift in the workplace.

The survey’s findings reveal that employees are now asking for more out of their employers, especially with regard to pay equity. Men are more likely to agree that they are paid fairly (70 percent), compared to women (61 percent), and more women than men reported not receiving any monetary bonuses. As the old command-and-control management style continues to crumble, companies are challenged to match how work gets done today. Organisations need to create workplaces where employees feel fairly compensated, feel safe, are heard, have strong connections with both their managers as well as co-workers, feel recognised, and are inspired to perform their best work.

“The forces shaping our societal landscape – calls for fairness, equity, transparency, and trust – are driving an awakening in the workplace,” said Derek Irvine, Globoforce senior vice president of client strategy and consulting. “It is simply unacceptable to treat men and women differently at work. This year’s employee survey tells the story of a workforce ready to make an impact – but unwilling to stick around if inequity and bureaucratic processes get in the way. Organisations that provide a positive culture for their people will see renewed commitment, engagement, and strengthened relationships that fuel the backbone of their business and their bottom line.”

The “Social Impact in the Human Workplace” report reveals that employees are holding their employers to higher standards. They are expecting more out of their workplace, fueled by growing distrust in positional authority. Employees increasingly want their voices to be heard, to be recognised for their accomplishments, and transparency in the way they are rewarded and evaluated.

The report identifies the following trends:

1) Most employees have not been recognised recently, but there are opportunities to make recognition more meaningful. The recognition experience varies greatly across the workforce with only 16 percent of workers having been recognised in the last month, due in part by the fact that one in three companies (30 percent) have no formal recognition programme. In addition, another 25 percent of companies have a recognition programme that is not tied to core values, which does not lead employees to feel engaged. Giving everyone in the company the power to recognise others through social recognition also has a positive impact on employees’ experience at work. When only senior leaders are allowed to recognise, 73 percent of workers report a positive experience. That number jumps to 88 percent when everyone in the company can celebrate good work.

2) Annual performance reviews still remain in many organisations, but workers want more flexibility and openness. The more frequently an employee reports checking in with their manager, the more likely they are to trust and respect their manager. 38 percent of workers say they check in with their manager daily and another 35 percent check in on a weekly basis.

3) Traditional compensation can present pay equity risks. More women than men reported not receiving any bonus. In the United States, nearly two times as many men as women received a bonus greater than $5,000, and in the United Kingdom, more than three times as many men as women received a bonus greater than ‎£5,000.

4) While there is progress around belonging, psychological safety varies greatly by gender and position in a company. 82 percent of workers say they feel a sense of belonging in the workplace. But when workers were asked if they feel safe offering a dissenting or unpopular view at work, only 65 percent agreed. Women are less likely to feel safe speaking up (60 percent), compared to men (70 percent). And individual contributors are much less likely to feel safe speaking up (59 percent) than senior management (81 percent).

5) Traditional methods for celebrating life events and service anniversaries leave employees feeling uninspired and causing them to rethink their commitment to the organisation. In response to traditional service anniversaries, more than half (51 percent) of respondents said, “It made me feel nothing at all.” Another 13 percent reported, “It made me feel less valued.” Celebrating just one life event in a meaningful way with your colleagues and community at work can have a sizable impact, making workers 19 percent more likely to feel like they belong.

The full report is available to download here.

Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.