Firms should focus on people in the drive for long term growth

A new report by Economist Impact, sponsored by Kyocera Document Solutions, claims that human-centric strategies are needed for businesses to drive sustainable business growth, focusing on three pillars: productivity and infrastructure, employee engagement and culture. The Magnetic Workplace Barometer claims to gauge confidence both today and in five years’ time across  what the report terms the three main pillars of productivity and infrastructure; employee engagement; and culture. The barometer scores are scaled from 1 to 7, 7 being the most confident.

The Barometer claims to highlight a need for companies to rethink performance management, due to a growing decentralisation of the workplace. Shifting to an outcome-driven style of management is shown to encourage transparency and trust between managers and employers, whilst more frequent assessments and personal goals suggested to encourage transparency and trust between managers and employers. Job-crafting, which is defined as allowing employees to have a hand in shaping their role, was also found to have improved employee job satisfaction and engagement.

The Magnetic Workplace Barometer suggests that the US is the leader when it comes to confidence in establishing magnetic workplaces, scoring above the global average, and displaying a strong commitment to investment in tech tools, flexible work and conscious leadership. In contrast, Japan is less certain about facilitating flexible working, or bolstering technological infrastructure, though 52 percent* of Japanese respondents expressed optimism for flexible working arrangements in the future.

Key findings from the report include:

  • The US and Australia have shown commitment to developing workplace technology, employee engagement and culture, whilst Japan comparatively performs less well on the barometer, due to a less flexible working culture.
  • 74.8 percent* of surveyed companies globally are confident about the future of digital collaboration, saying they are confident about providing their organisations with the tech infrastructure needed to facilitate greater productivity within the next five years.
  • The retail, media and IT and financial industries will perform best in the workplace of the future, whilst the construction and real estate industries will struggle.
  • Employees care about workforce diversity and wellbeing now more than ever, and 68 percent* of respondents feel confident their organisations have introduced recruitment processes that enhance diversity, with demand for D&I only set to grow following recent global reckonings on issues of race and gender.
  • Investment in virtual reality will enable teams to bridge physical distance and boost productivity, but companies must simultaneously invest in human-centric policies that are considerate of individual employees’ needs.

Drawn from a survey of 250 business executives from Australia, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the US, The magnetic workplace: Keys to unlock sustainable growth for business examines the human-centric strategies and attributes that make somewhere a ‘magnetic’ place to work, as organisations continue to evolve with a shifting employment landscape. Participants from companies including Stripe, PwC and Google were asked to quantify their confidence in the appeal of their workplace for employees both now and in five years’ time.

Commenting on the report, lead editor Naka Kondo at Economist Impact said: “Organisations must put their people first if they want to remain an attractive workplace. Digital technology will be the key resource for companies to facilitate and engage with existing and prospective employees’ changing demands and help to mitigate against an increasingly decentralised workplace. Whilst companies globally are optimistic, they must ensure they continue to prioritise human-centric strategies in order to drive sustainable growth.”


The keys to unlocking the magnetic workplace

Pillar 1: Technology and productivity

  • Digital technologies are the bedrock of the magnetic workplace. With strong investments in the latest technologies and a culture of upgrading legacy systems, organisations are able to realise the gains from allowing employees to work where and when they are most productive. Remote work technologies, collaborative and automation technologies will be necessary ingredients to empower workers with more autonomy and access to skills development opportunities.
  • Performance management is changing, as more companies rethink what values and outcomes matter to them. The growing decentralisation of the workplace will require companies to shift to a style of performance management that is outcome-driven and continuous to encourage transparency and trust between managers and employers.

Pillar 2: Employee engagement

  • Flexible work is here to stay, especially among industries where remote work arrangements have the biggest impacts such as media and IT (5.76), finance and insurance (5.57), and retail (5.56). Magnetic workplaces can leverage flexible work options to provide employees with more autonomy, but also to access more diverse talent. Flexible work allows employees to work in a way that maximises their performance and increases productivity for sustainable business growth.
  • Magnetic workplaces are not focused on just attracting and retaining talent, but upskilling and developing existing employees. Employees are actively looking for companies that foster upskilling and career growth, and companies that can meet these demands will see their retention improve.
  • The advent of more flexible work will require more skilled managers equipped with new approaches to employee engagement. This next generation of managers need to be able to manage scattered workforces and encourage effective communication via digital communication tools.

Pillar 3: Culture

  • Going all-in on diversity and inclusion can boost talent retention and attraction. Recent events have pushed issues of diversity and inclusion into the spotlight, especially as employees are actively looking to work with firms that share their values. Technology can help firms bolster their diversity and inclusion initiatives, but strong internal values are foundational to ensuring a magnetic workplace make them a reality.
  • A strong sense of alignment with a business’s overall goals can help drive employee retention. When employees feel tethered to a core set of values and a sense of purpose, they report better job satisfaction and productivity. Technology can help mediate this sense of disconnection by fostering better communication of company goals and in-team collaboration.
  • Work-life balance is a paramount concern in magnetic workplaces, especially as mental wellbeing is increasingly becoming an important factor for job-seekers. Companies that ensure workers’ personal time is protected tend to see improvements in worker productivity, health and satisfaction.


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