Today, the younger generations push for a different work environment. While a desire for change existed before Covid-19, the pandemic brought a rapid work environment transformation and a record-high number of people who left their jobs. Though a natural development, the new employee expectations bring challenges and demand organizations to change to attract and retain talent. In the evolved war for talent, a key is understanding and improving the employee experience to ensure the new work environment dynamically supports well-being and performance.
Well-being at the foundation of performance
Flow is described as a state of peak performance. Explained to happen "because of a fundamental shift in neurochemistry," flow occurs when the brain releases norepinephrine, dopamine, anandamide, endorphins, and serotonin. While this state is desired by many, people seldom perform at their peak. Most of the time, it is enough to perform at the necessary level according to, for example, expectations, time, energy, and resources.
Even when people do not work in a state of flow, they need beneficial releases of brain chemicals to perform. When employees experience mental well-being and emotions such as psychological safety, inclusion, and motivation, their brains can release the chemicals needed for performance and allow their brains to use the energy to focus, come up with new ideas, and make sound decisions. When people do not feel the emotions of the basic well-being foundation, their brain might perceive their surroundings as dangerous and think it needs to re-direct energy and change to a state of fight-or-flight instead. While, for example, a bad manager or a toxic work culture is not life-threatening, the brain might treat the emotion as if it is when the person reacts by stressing too much about it.
A different work environment
A work environment includes everything an employee meets at the workplace: the physical environment and the psychological experiences. Organizations can impact the work environment by ensuring, for example:
- That the office space is attractive to the employees
- The values are the right ones
- Employees and leaders live the culture
- Leadership styles align with the culture and support well-being and performance
- Relevant employee programs are in place
While our work environment has undergone many changes over the past 250 years, the Covid-19 pandemic brought the fastest adjustment faced by employees and employers. A study following the onset of Covid-19 showed the most significant changes were shifting to remote working, increased employee desire for flexibility, productivity and efficiency in remote work, and advanced digital maturity. While the new conditions brought new opportunities, the study also revealed the challenges in the new work environment primarily as:
- Understanding employee well-being
- Maintaining motivation
- Promoting team spirit
- Structuring work and following up
- Increasing meeting frequency
- Information-sharing and transparency
- Stimulating creativity
Despite the new challenges, the same HR professionals do not want to turn back time but see gains in building on what works well in the new work environment. They solve many new obstacles by increasing self-leadership, ensuring a trust-based culture, and regularly listening to the employees. Organizations also leverage HR tech to aid in the new work environment to gain a clear and current understanding of the employee experience, what works and what must change, and engage employees in continuous improvements and change.
A tool for thriving people and performance
To know if the work environment supports people to thrive, you must listen to everyone, not only those voicing their opinion the loudest. With a modern employee survey platform, you hear all employees and gauge whether the work environment empowers them to perform and what might be in their way.
The key in Peter Drucker's quote, "What gets measured gets done," is that what you decide to place focus on generates your results. For example, focusing on well-being as the foundation for performance can drive stronger performance. However, it requires more than writing values as the basis of your culture and having an onboarding course teaching new hires about it. You must continuously follow up. If your values do not cover what they need to, you must adjust them. If your people do not live the intended culture, you must act on it. When people are not engaged, you must find out why.
Leveraging a modern employee survey platform enables you to continuously follow up on the areas most important to your people's well-being and performance. With few but enough relevant questions, you can regularly survey employees to gain the current picture and engage teams in an ongoing dialogue about what works well and what might be in the way of performance.
Win in the war for talent
You win in the war for talent when you listen to your employees and provide an environment in which they can work with their brain chemicals beneficially released. Sustaining a healthy work environment is an ongoing process. With a well-designed modern employee survey platform, you can measure the areas of most importance and take necessary action to adjust where and when needed. Understanding how your people experience their work environment allows you to ensure you provide them with the best opportunities for well-being and performance. Employees thrive in the right work environment, and you can attract and retain talent better.