Social activist movements ‘shifting power dynamics at work’



Heightened social activism and employment trends have resulted in employees reconsidering how they think and feel about their employers, according to a new global survey released today.

The Social Impact in the Human Workplace report by Globoforce’s WorkHuman Analytics & Research Institute is based on a survey of more than 3,600 people in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Ireland. The study examines how movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp along with record low unemployment are causing a power shift in the workplace.

The survey’s findings reveal that employees are now asking for more out of their employers, especially with regard to pay equity. Men are more likely to agree that they are paid fairly (70 percent), compared to women (61 percent), and more women than men reported not receiving any monetary bonuses.

“The forces shaping our societal landscape – calls for fairness, equity, transparency, and trust – are driving an awakening in the workplace,” said Derek Irvine, Globoforce senior vice president of client strategy and consulting. “It is simply unacceptable to treat men and women differently at work. This year’s employee survey tells the story of a workforce ready to make an impact – but unwilling to stick around if inequity and bureaucratic processes get in the way. Organisations that provide a positive culture for their people will see renewed commitment, engagement, and strengthened relationships that fuel the backbone of their business and their bottom line.”

The report reveals that employees are holding their employers to higher standards and expecting more out of their workplace, fuelled by growing distrust in positional authority. Employees say they want their voices to be heard and to be recognised for their accomplishments and they want transparency in the way they are rewarded and evaluated.

The report found a need for greater and more meaningful recognition of employee achievements. Only 16 per cent of workers said their contribution had been recognised in the last month. A third of companies had no formal recognition programme. A quarter had recognition programmes, but these were not tied to core company values. Broadening the scope of recognition across the company led to a more positive sense of engagement, said the report.

It also identified a need for more frequent and open contact with managers. The more frequently an employee reports checking in with their manager, the more likely they are to trust and respect their manager, said the report.

On pay equity, it found that traditional ways of compensating workers might increase unfairness. It stated that women were less likely to receive a bonus than men, particularly in the UK where more than three times as many men as women received a bonus greater than ‎£5,000.

Other findings included that women were less likely to feel safe speaking up than men and that traditional ways of celebrating life events and service anniversaries are uninspiring. More than half (51 percent) of respondents said traditional service anniversaries “made me feel nothing at all”. Another 13 percent reported: “It made me feel less valued.” Celebrating just one life event in a meaningful way with colleagues and community at work can have a sizable impact, making workers 19 percent more likely to feel like they belong, said the report.

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