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5 Workplace Culture Trends That Managers Shouldn’t Avoid

By Paulina Carbonaro

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the “great resignation” of 2021, meaning, many employees are thinking of leaving their current employer. So why the urge to quit all of a sudden? Perhaps some need a change after a year of lockdowns and restrictions. The pandemic may have stirred new career aspirations in others. But there is also much to be said about company cultures.

While some companies were superstars at sustaining their culture and being supportive during periods of strict remote work, many others struggled. Disengaged and burned-out employees may be questioning their commitment. Additionally, what people care about in their workplaces is shifting – it’s not the allure of in-office perks that draws people in anymore, it’s how employees are valued.

Here are 5 culture trends that leaders at all levels should pay close attention to:

Diversity, Equality & Inclusion – People care deeply about this. Strong company cultures have policies and practices in place to ensure an equitable work environment free of biases. But perhaps more importantly, employees want authenticity. A culture that accepts differences and provides equal opportunities must be reflected in meaningful actions and not just empty social media posts.

Flexibility – Now that many of us have had a taste of it, employees want flexibility if their jobs allow for it. Very few want to return to the rigid in-office-only, 9-5 routine. In fact, a multitude of research is highlighting preferences for a hybrid work model among many professions. Does this mean companies that don’t embrace hybrid work will lose out on the “employer of choice” awards? Time will tell.

Empathy & Trust – Empathic leadership is not a new concept, but it became more important to work cultures during the pandemic. Employees want managers to recognize and understand their unique challenges, respond with compassion rather than a bottom-line approach, and show trust. But only 47% of managers are prepared for this according to a 2021 Gartner survey.

Work-Life Balance – While remote work provided flexibility, it also blurred the line between job and personal life, leaving many employees feeling overworked. Burnout, a hot topic right now, is negatively affecting mental health, engagement, and productivity. Managers that don’t acknowledge burnout and don’t mitigate it, stand to lose some of their best talent.

Gratitude & Appreciation – Many employees have been working harder than ever and they want recognition. It’s been long established that a culture where managers provide positive feedback, show gratitude, and celebrate wins helps boost morale, drives productivity and engagement, and validates the work that employees do. Employees need this basic human connection, especially after a year of working remotely.

These five qualities humanize workplaces and that’s ultimately what employees want from companies right now: a culture where they are treated with civility, respect, and consideration. Companies that achieve this will likely see a lot less turnover in 2021. And those that don’t adapt their management practices to reflect changing employee outlooks will risk losing their best talent.


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