We’re at a tipping point. Business is changing.
Yes, the pandemic has caused deep disruptions to the economy and to society. But the biggest challenge facing businesses comes from their employees.
After an era of self-serving leaders, lies, misinformation and divisiveness from the highest levels, employees now expect — and deserve — to be treated with respect in every interaction.
In times when we don’t know who to trust or what to trust, workplace respect is critically important. Regardless of how society around them continues to accept divisive behaviors and polarizing personalities as normal, today’s and tomorrow’s employees expect good behaviors — integrity, dignity and respect — from their employer.
Results are certainly important to company success, but employees also view workplace respect as equally important. Now and in the future, team members expect that their companies proactively give back, as they serve their customers and their communities.
Employees also expect their leaders to sustain work cultures that embrace diversity and equality — where everyone has a voice. Talented, engaged employees are choosing to work with organizations and leaders who take a stand on global issues like homelessness, community service and climate change.
The trouble is that, even before the lockdowns, leadership practices didn’t keep pace. That failure to adapt created a huge gap between what employees expect from their work environment and what employers deliver in that work environment.
Companies and their leaders are no longer measured exclusively by profits and market share. To remain competitive and to attract and retain top talent, companies must invest in their employees while enabling healthy work-life balance. They must provide tangible value that improves employees and customers’ lives.
This shift toward treating people with dignity and respect comes at an awkward time for many business leaders. While being tasked with rallying around a post-pandemic vision, they are stuck between the demands for results and the desires of their employees and customers.
If leaders don’t find a mutually beneficial middle ground, employees will leave. They’ll go work for better-aligned companies and more inspirational leaders. Customers will shift their allegiance to organizations that genuinely care about and invest in their communities.
Business leaders who fail to adapt to new realities face a difficult future.
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