Experts are saying that building a sustainable work culture is one way to battle the Great Resignation. But new research shows to do so you must pay attention to two groups: women and junior-level employees.
The Clockwise report, “The Real ROI of a Sustainable Work Culture,” analyzed 1,000 U.S. workers. It delved into employees’ feelings about how culture impacts their well-being and the company’s overall business health.
The study found there were big differences in employees’ perceptions depending on their gender and role within the organization.
No big shock here: Men and women experience sustainability at work differently. But what may be a bit shocking is that the difference is doubled: 9% of women believe their work culture is very unsustainable, compared to 4% of men.
And women who don’t have children – typically younger and earlier in their career – believe their workplace is unsustainable more than women with children. That’s because mothers rank benefits and compensation as the top attribute that would improve sustainability (50%). Women without children rank opportunities for growth and advancement in their careers as the top attribute (31%).
It’s easy to see why someone with a child or children would hold benefits and compensation higher than career advancement and vice versa. That’s why Benefits pros must evaluate the different segments of employees and do their best to cater to all their needs.
Same goes with where employees fall in the pecking order at the company.
It makes complete and total sense that senior leaders feel good about workplace sustainability. They’re the ones running the company. To say sustainability is bad is to say they aren’t doing their jobs well. Only 5% of senior leaders said they feel their workplace culture is unsustainable vs. 22% of individual contributors. In between there is middle management coming in at 11.46% and junior manager at 18.57%.
The study pointed out that this could be a reason certain companies are slow to change their workplace culture. Leaders who aren’t empathetic or don’t have their finger on the pulse of their workplaces aren’t going to be aware of how their employees feel about their work experiences.
ROI of sustainability
That’s not good news for those companies because “work culture impacts the bottom line in a number of ways,” according to the study.
In addition to finding out the impact of work culture, the study looked at the ROI of a sustainable work culture. It found employees believe their work culture impacts their company’s:
- ability to grow
- ability to innovate
- employee engagement
- retention, and
Here’s a “pay attention” statistic for HR: “Workers at companies with unsustainable cultures are more than nine times as likely to say they don’t see themselves at their company in the next 12 months.”
That means higher turnover and higher recruitment costs.
Creating a sustainable culture
There are three areas to focus on to build a sustainable workplace culture: workload, rewards and autonomy. The study found that companies that do this get huge returns on employee engagement and burnout prevention.
Of course, no one wants to be overworked, but then again being underworked leads to boredom. The first thing to do in creating manageable workloads is set expectations collaboratively and transparently. Promote a work/life balance – don’t just talk the talk. And give your team room to work when and where they want.
The study found that 74% of people working at sustainable companies say their managers provide growth opportunities for them. Only 20% of people at unsustainable workplaces said that. So proactively start a conversation on how team members can learn and grow. Suggest books, training or conferences that can help them grow.
Finally, when you allow team members to choose their tools, projects and how they spend their time, they feel empowered. The survey found feeling empowered to make strategic decisions was highly correlated with a sustainable workplace culture.