January 03, 2022
2022 is the Year of the Empowered Employee.
The cultural and economic changes set into motion by the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a significant power shift in the workplace, in favor of employees. This power shift is behind ongoing trends like The Great Resignation and a “candidate’s market.” The power may be in employees’ hands, but the ball is in leaders’ courts to decide what the future holds for their companies. We’re calling it now: 2022 is the Year of the Empowered Employee.
Who is the Empowered Employee?
We all need many of the same things in our lives at work: to feel connected to the work we’re doing, to feel appreciated for our contributions, to see our growth and development invested in, and to be respected and supported. Bravely’s session data bears these out as timeless themes. In summer 2020, even as rates of coaching sessions about stress rose sevenfold, topics like “career pathing,” “peer relationships,” and “feeling stuck” held at steady rates.
None of these needs are new, but now that a widespread move to remote and hybrid work has opened up new worlds of options, employees have greater expectations than ever of being able to have those needs met. Or, more accurately, they’re less willing to stick around at a job where those needs aren’t met.
The Empowered Employee isn’t a new type of employee, but rather a new set of attitudes toward work quickly developing across the workforce. Here’s what you need to know about the Empowered Employee.
Careers, not jobs
Where employees of the past were concerned about job security, the Empowered Employee cares more about career security. They want to know, “How does this job serve my long-term goals?” We’ve seen this in the much-talked-about trend of “job hopping,” which has grown over the past 10 years as a strategy for accelerating one’s career trajectory.
This doesn’t mean that People leaders should expect their companies to forever be a revolving door of talent. A 2018 LinkedIn Workforce Report shared that 94% of employees would stay at their companies longer if they invested in their careers. People will go where they can get the growth and development opportunities they want — even, or especially, if that’s the company they’re already at.
Generous with feedback
The Empowered Employee isn’t shy about giving feedback to their leadership. The events of 2020 — both the COVID-19 pandemic and a reckoning with racism in professional settings — put many in the position of having to speak up about what wasn’t working for them in their workplaces. This includes where their companies’ values weren’t aligned with their action and where the organization was failing to provide the necessary support for their well-being.
This is a huge opportunity for leaders to hear, understand, and act upon their people’s needs. Leaders who earn a reputation for soliciting feedback and acting upon it will rise to the top in the war for talent, and their companies will be better for it. Those that squander the opportunity by dismissing feedback, or by acknowledging it without follow-through, will be left behind.
All about the individual
One-size-fits-all solutions are a thing of the past. Everyone has a unique set of conditions under which they thrive. Where work-from-home may be an ideal set-up for one person, someone else may draw their energy from in-person collaboration — and that’s just the beginning.
Individualized support is the future. Not only will employers need to provide a wide variety of resources and self-directed experiences, they’ll need to build cultures in which using these resources is normalized and encouraged.
The workplace as we once knew it is gone. For the first time, a company’s greatest assets — its people — are in control.
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