organisations are still adapting to the sudden and substantive changes created by the crises of 2020. Fortunately, as the dust settles, opportunities to strengthen workplace culture are becoming easier to see.

This year’s report examines the impact that hybrid workplaces, peak experiences, employee recognition, and our need for connection will have on cultures and business performance. Scroll down for the highlights or click into the details.

THE TALENT MAGNETS™
The current state of six essential elements that define thriving cultures.

YEAR-OVER-YEAR CHANGE

As organisations adjust to a new era of work, connection is a big challenge. Successful organisations reconnect with their people by adopting a community mindset where employees find meaning in their work, believe that they belong, and feel more fulfilled.

A sense of belonging improves several cultural metrics:

“[Community is] a way of being together with both individual authenticity and interpersonal harmony so that people become able to function with a collective energy even greater than the sum of their individual energies.”

—M. SCOTT PECK

The weaknesses of an organisation are often attributed to its leaders. However, data suggest the blame may be at least partially misplaced—especially in organisations that prioritize the experiences of individual contributors. The reality is leaders are employees, too, and increasing their recognition and reducing their stress and anxiety will directly result in better leadership and less burnout. Until then, leaders have a difficult and lonely role, and organisations face consequences.

“Leadership is an active role; ‘lead’ is a verb. But the leader who tries to do it all is headed for burnout, and in a powerful hurry.”

—BILL OWENS, FORMER GOVERNER OF COLORADO

As an increasing number of people resigned from their jobs last year, our research examined why. Most often, the reasons boiled down to a compelling desire for a more fulfilling life. Employees’ sense of fulfillment increases when organisations enable life balance, support the growth and development of everyone holistically, create a thriving workplace community, and help each person contribute to the collective purpose. Our data also show that when employees are fulfilled, great business outcomes follow.

Employees who reach a high level in each of the following areas see better odds of fulfillment:

“When pursuing an employee experience that engages workers, companies too often make the mistake of looking at only one-size-fits-all solutions. They vow to provide more flexibility, opportunities, and an inclusive culture. While these factors matter, they don’t cover what is often the most important one that’s missing: a personal sense of fulfillment.”

—AARON HURST, AUTHOR, AND KATHRIN BELLIVEAU, CHIEF PURPOSE OFFICER, HASBRO

Personal histories shape our current and future perceptions, and this holds true for employee recognition. We found that people’s poor recognition experiences at prior organisations can create a negative bias toward recognition programs and cultural initiatives that come after. On the other side, excellent previous recognition experiences create an equal challenge by raising employees’ expectations. The answer lies in expressing appreciation early and often.

Recognition integration (RI)—the degree to which recognition is embedded in an organisation’s culture—has a significant impact on subsequent cultural outcomes:

“Part of why it’s so important that we weave recognition and appreciation into the fabric of our culture and elevate the importance of its impact is because now, more than ever, we understand that recognition, just like compensation and benefits, is a fundamental part of the associates’ experience at work.”

—NICK ROSENTHAL, SENIOR ASSOCIATE IN HR COMPENSATION, CAPITAL ONE

Symbols are woven throughout organizational culture. Think of the framed first cheque, the founder’s portrait, or even military medals, for example. Companies that use relevant symbols in their employee recognition—and integrate them early and often in the employee experience—significantly amplify the positive impact.

“Symbols are powerful because they are the visible signs of invisible realities.”

—ST. AUGUSTINE, THEOLOGIAN AND PHILOSOPHER

organisations benefit greatly from the talent and expertise of generalists—those multi-dimensional employees with diverse backgrounds who are curious, imaginative, and willing to embrace evolving work environments. Unfortunately, our latest research shows generalists are also much less likely to feel appreciated and much more likely to feel burned out, especially compared to their specialist coworkers.

Despite the value they bring to the workplace and the high demand for them, many generalists feel under-recognized by their employers:

“Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses—especially learn how to see. realise that everything connects to everything else.”

—LEONARDO DA VINCI, INVENTOR AND ARTIST