The last couple of years certainly haven’t been easy for businesses. Leaders around the world have been scrambling to reconfigure processes, procedures and platforms, while employees have been forced to convert spare rooms surrounded by pets and children. With all of this immediate transition did come some good for the workplace, in the form of better tech solutions and more efficient communication, but it came at a very high cost to our mental health and general wellbeing. A cost that still hangs over us as we roll in 2022.
Employees have been carrying the pandemic burden
Anxiety around job security, health and family
The erosion of the personal-professional divide
Burnout from increased productivity pressure, digital monitoring and zoom fatigue
Changes in caregiving responsibilities
Increased loneliness, limited positive emotional experiences and isolation
Increased costs of WFH
2021 saw people juggling a combination of the above while being stuck at home or on furlough; pushing a considerable amount of self-reflection and introspection. People started to question their careers, resulting in record rates of job departure with “The Great Resignation” only predicted to continue into 2022. Recent research conducted by Tiger Recruitment claims that 4 in 10 workers are planning to change jobs after the Omicron variant has died down. An alarm bell stat screaming at businesses to make their company a great place to work, fast.
What do employees want in 2022?
A business is only as strong as its employees; a cliche, but very true. The businesses set to thrive in 2022 are the ones asking the all-important question: “what do our employees want?” Seeing beyond the financials to focus on the all-important human needs that underpin productivity; and following the pandemic, employees have far more bargaining power and confidence in their demands and desires.
1. Flexibility. The in-office 9-5 is a thing of the past. The pandemic has allowed us all to reimagine how and where work is done and employees expect businesses to continue to be open-minded about how work is conducted. Businesses must continue to grant autonomy and trust to meet employees’ unique needs.
2. Culture. After such a prolonged period of instability and isolation, we all crave connection and meaning. Companies who are able to foster a sense of workplace community, with employees feeling part of something, listened to and valued as human beings, will lead the charge through continued pandemic uncertainty.
3. Benefits. Employee benefits have the power to be life-changing for a workforce, when designed with care to meet specific needs. We’ve learned from the pandemic that taking care of employees means so much more than just dishing out gym memberships. Employees want benefits that actually solve problems. Benefits that are relevant, flexible and really elevate the work-life experience.
Less ‘employee experience’, more ‘human experience’
Employee experience spans everything from culture and communication, to job satisfaction and benefits. A great employee experience drives high engagement, which, according to recent research by the UK government, results in 33% higher profits than companies with low engagement.
This shows that a company’s emotional health has a really big impact on its financial health. When companies humanise the employee experience - listening to specific needs, finding out what motivates and inspires - they build a far more positive and productive work environment.
1. Put the human before the employee. Happy people do great business. They are brand champions amongst friends, they best support their clients and they offer the best customer service. Shifting from thinking about “employee experience” to “human experience” changes the way we cognise an organisation, bringing the attention to what matters - making sure people feel valued and cared for at work.
2. Invest in employee wellness. Employee health and wellbeing has never been more of a priority. It should be considered one of the most important pillars of the employee experience, especially off the back of the last few years. It’s time for companies to revise and rejuvenate wellbeing initiatives to properly support teams. Workplace wellness strategies could include anything from encouraging walking meetings through to hosting social events, making healthy food more easily available and offering free mental health support.
3. Build community through great communication. Making sure that employees feel heard is essential to good culture. Communication has been particularly restricted over the last couple of years so now it’s time for businesses to be re-introducing different ideation and discussion formats to the company calendar (within government guidelines). Varying communication opportunities between group meetings, team lunches, one-to-ones, creative days and online discussion provides a range of opportunity for everyone to feel heard and happy.
What role can food play in building an employee-centric culture?
Everyone knows that food is the cornerstone of good health, but really it’s so much more than that. It’s one of the few universal things that has the power to bring people together; a really under-utilised tool in the employee engagement armoury. By its very nature, it has the ability to fold so much of what companies are looking to achieve in employee engagement strategies into one, simple solution - build community, improve health and wellbeing, drive better productivity, communication and creativity, all through feeding your team well.
Unfortunately giving a workforce access to healthy, delicious food, until now, required big budgets or great in-office facilities. Promoting a good food culture was only available to the tech giants and finance firms. That’s why at CANTEEN, we want to make it easy for businesses of all sizes to reap the rewards of a well-fed team in 2022. To use food as a conduit for culture, community and good conversation.
Good food has the power to:
Enhance teamwork and collaboration
Create a culture of connection and belonging
Build trust and strengthen relationships
Improve engagement and morale
Reduce burnout and overwhelm