Building great workplace cultures can be challenging, especially with the rapid changes in consumer trends and technology in the modern workplace. Here are four of the hottest culture trends that will impact retail organizations in 2021:
Update: The way we work shifted dramatically overnight. In Q1 of 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic hit. Businesses and their employees are being forced to change how they work in some unprecedented ways. While most employees transitioned to remote work, many are left working on the front lines with new social distancing requirements. Confusion, anxiety, and fear are palpable. How will employees adapt to this change in work environment, process, and roles? How can companies help employees be calm, productive, and healthy?
O.C. Tanner pulse surveys show 40% of employees globally are worried about losing their job, while 60% worry about lost income. 65% of employees report feeling a “tense” work environment, and 46% of employees say they are less productive at work. There’s a 221% increase in fearfulness among employees, and a 135% increase in feeling isolated.
During a time of great uncertainty and change, many companies are struggling with how to take care of their people and keep their businesses operating.
What companies can do: In times of crisis, it is a company’s responsibility to help employees thrive. This includes many things: ensuring employees are safe at work, giving them access to the tools and resources they need to do their jobs, prioritizing employee wellbeing, and communicating honestly, accurately, and frequently. Organizations are taking the necessary steps: 92% of companies took appropriate actions to make sure their employees were safe at work. Video communication from senior leaders nearly doubled. The number of flexible leave policies increased 95%. Now is the time to make employees your most important asset. Take care of their needs, help them stay connected in a time of physical disconnection, and show appreciation for their work and efforts, especially those on the front line. If you take care of your people, they will take care of your business.
This means we need to understand how employees are feeling and what they want from work. Here the 4 culture trends for 2021 (as they existed before the pandemic):
According to the 2020 O.C. Tanner Global Culture Report, 79% of employees surveyed reported that they are experiencing mild, moderate, or severe burnout and those in the retail sector are no exception. With repetitive tasks, non-traditional hours, a shift from stores to warehouse environments as e-commerce proliferates, and a perceived lack of support from management, employees in the retail sector are feeling immense work-related stress and burnout.
The results are costly. 38% of retail employees reported that burnout on the job had a negative impact on their health. Harvard Business Review estimates that burn-out costs U.S. employers between $125 to $190 billion dollars in health-care spending each year. Stressed employees are far less productive and provide lower levels of customer service which negatively affects an increasingly competitive industry. These workers also impact turnover rates as they seek new opportunities.
What retail companies can do: You may not be able to lower the number of hours required or offer work-from-home options, but you can help your people manage their stress better. Focus on improving overall employee wellbeing: physical, emotional, and social wellbeing. Whenever possible, allow for schedule flexibility, and enable workers to try new tasks, departments, or locations to help them gain new skills and create variety in their workload. Create positive everyday experiences so employees feel connected to their work, peers, and your organization. Help them see advancement opportunities and provide employees with a meaningful purpose that inspires them. Show how their work makes a difference by recognizing their accomplishments. Creating a great workplace culture can help mitigate or prevent employee burnout, even in the most demanding retail environments.
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