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What Workers Want And How Leaders Can Help Them Succeed

June 3, 2024

Why is it important to care about what workers want? And how can leaders help them succeed?

Well even with the onslaught of AI and massive change researchers are saying that we will continue to be in need of workers from now until 2030 and beyond.

In today’s work environment, understanding what workers want is crucial for leaders who want a motivated, engaged, and productive workforce.

This post will delve into the key desires of modern employees and explore how leaders can effectively respond to these needs.

1. Authentic Leadership

Employees increasingly seek leaders who are genuine and transparent in their actions and communications. Authentic leaders are those who act according to their values and ethics, and who are consistent in their words and deeds. An exemplary figure in this domain is Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. Under his leadership, Microsoft has embraced a culture of transparency and honesty, encouraging open dialogue and learning from mistakes. Nadella’s approachability and commitment to personal growth and development resonate deeply with his employees, fostering a trusting and inclusive workplace atmosphere.

2. Opportunities for Growth

The opportunity to grow both personally and professionally is a significant motivator for today’s workforce. Google stands out as a leader in this area through its commitment to employee development. The tech giant offers various growth paths, including in-house training programs, workshops, and courses, allowing employees to gain new skills and advance their careers within the company. This not only enhances job satisfaction but also helps retain top talent.

3. Meaningful Work

Workers are increasingly looking for roles that provide meaning and a sense of purpose beyond just a paycheck. Salesforce exemplifies how companies can integrate meaningful work into their culture through their 1-1-1 model, which dedicates 1% of the company’s equity, 1% of employees’ time, and 1% of product resources to philanthropy. This model not only enriches the community but also gives employees a sense of purpose in their work.

4. Commitment to DEI and ESG

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI), and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives are increasingly important to today’s workers. Patagonia, the outdoor apparel company, leads by example with its strong commitment to environmental sustainability and ethical practices. The company’s initiatives, such as using sustainable materials and advocating for environmental causes, attract employees who value ethical and responsible business practices.

Diversity Inclusion GIF by CASE

5. Flexibility in Work Arrangements

While leaders often prefer in-office work for collaboration and culture-building, employees value flexibility. The key for leaders is to articulate clearly why office presence benefits the team and how it enhances productivity. A company that has successfully navigated this balance is Dropbox, which implemented a “Virtual First” policy. This policy prioritizes remote work while also defining the in-office days for teamwork, ensuring employees understand the value and purpose of their physical presence in the office.

6. Accessible and Efficient IT Tools

The ability to perform work seamlessly, regardless of location, is a critical demand of the modern workforce. Adobe provides an excellent example of empowering employees through technology with its Adobe Creative Cloud services. By offering powerful, cloud-based tools, Adobe ensures that its creative professionals can work effectively from anywhere, boosting productivity and satisfaction.

7. Freedom to Innovate

Employees today want the freedom to innovate and contribute ideas that can change the company and industry. Elon Musk’s companies, such as Tesla and SpaceX, are known for encouraging innovation. Employees are motivated to bring forward groundbreaking ideas, which are often implemented and lead to rapid advancements in technology and product development.

8. Inspirational Leadership

Finally, workers seek leaders who inspire and motivate them to achieve more. An inspirational leader in today’s business world is Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. Her vision for the future of transportation and commitment to electric vehicles inspires her team to push the boundaries of what is possible and to work towards a more sustainable world.

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