It’s no secret that people’s priorities have been changing lately. Millennials entering the workforce marked the mindset shift from ‘live to work’ to ‘work to live’, and that sentiment has only continued to spread like wildfire — tenfold since the onset of the pandemic. Hustle culture is becoming a thing of the past, and things like long hours, face-time, and paying your dues are rapidly losing their value.
Now, the focus is on flexibility, company culture, and making a difference. Younger generations care less about climbing the corporate ladder and more about feeling fulfilled in their day-to-day lives. Title and salary come second to free time and a sense of purpose. Yet still, so many companies fail to consider these shifts.
While it’s easy to fall into patterns determined by past generations, it’s much more rewarding to challenge the status quo and forge a new path. Young leaders have the power to make positive, lasting changes to the standard American workplace culture. Work isn’t about jumping through hoops and running yourself into a wall.
Here are a few ways to create a workplace culture that meets modern demands.
Offer Uber Flexibility
While full flexibility might not be possible for every industry, flexibility needs to be a key component of your culture strategy. Flexibility is also more than where you work – it’s about how you work when you work and having autonomy over that. And flexibility needs to come with trust and lots of communication. Flexibility and the ability to control our lives is a make-or-break factors for employees nowadays, with surveys repeatedly showing that people’s expectations have changed since the pandemic began. And remember that true flexibility is unique to the individual and how it integrates with their life.
Take Proactive Measures Against Burnout
Ensure your employees get enough paid time off (and feel comfortable taking it). Look for root causes of work exhaustion – like urgency, perfection, and senseless tasks – and get rid of them. Lead by example for work-life balance by taking time off and sticking to it, setting expectations on when late-night emails need to be dealt with (tip: not then), and being brutal about asking what work needs to be paused or stopped altogether.
Communication is key, and it tends to go a long way. The more transparent you are with your employee-facing communications, your people will feel included. If your employees feel in the dark about the goings-on of the company, then they will feel disconnected from their work, results, and drive. Don’t just talk about the “what” make sure you talk about the “why” too.
Make Your Mission & Values Clear
In today’s world, working for a company that is doing some good for the world is a top priority for the majority of workers. A sense of purpose drives people, so show them how their work is meaningful towards something bigger than themselves. Ensure you have shared values and live those values daily in all your company does. Culture is your competitive advantage.
Create a Collaborative Space
Down with the archaic patriarchal ways of the past. Being a junior shouldn’t deem someone’s ideas less significant than those of their seniors. Create a work environment that values everyone’s input equally and promotes innovation and creative problem-solving.
Develop a DEI Strategy
Studies show that DEI is important to nearly 90% of the American workforce. In fact, 81% of employees said they would leave their job if the commitment to DEI were insufficient. Employees demand a fairer future for all, starting with infusing DEI into your business strategy.
Instead of sitting idly by and waiting for change to happen, grab the bull by the horns and make strides toward building the future of work yourself. No one said it better than Gandhi: “be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Shaara Roman is the author of The Conscious Workplace: Fortify Your Culture to Thrive in Any Crisis and the founder and CEO of The Silverene Group, a culture consulting firm that aligns people, strategy, and culture to optimize organizational performance. As an award-winning entrepreneur, board member, speaker, author, and experienced chief human resources officer, Shaara and her team consult with leaders to create healthy workplaces by helping them build inclusive workplace cultures, design effective organizations, and align their company values and people programs to achieve business goals. Born in India, schooled in Nigeria and England, and having lived in Greece before coming to the US, Shaara uses her global experience as the foundation for her distinctive expertise in crafting strategies to improve culture, workforce quality, and operations across a multitude of disciplines in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. She received an MBA from Georgetown University and is also an adjunct professor. Today, Shaara serves on several advisory and nonprofit boards.