Declining corporate culture pushing workers out the door

Nearly half of HR leaders say remote work makes tasks and responsibilities more difficult

Declining corporate culture pushing workers out the door

There is a huge gap between how business leaders and workers perceive culture in the remote or hybrid setup.

While 94 per cent of executives say that culture is strong, only 65 per cent of employees agree, according to a survey by BambooHR.

And 77 per cent of employees wish their company would have done something different to help promote a positive remote or hybrid working environment.

The result? Nearly one in five (19 per cent) employees say they began job searching due to declining company culture, with another 16 per cent saying they’re searching for another job out of fear of what new culture might develop as offices reopen, finds BambooHR’s survey of 1,000 HR leaders and office workers.

“With top talent leaving because of culture concerns, it's more important than ever for HR and CEOs to come together with a unified position on culture,” says Cassie Whitlock, head of HR at BambooHR. “Culture and employee experience are a boardroom level issue and there is an opportunity here for HR to take its place at the table in the turbulent labour market we find ourselves in.”

Some workers have negative attitudes toward employees who continue to work remotely instead of returning to the office, and this could be a source of conflict between staff assigned to different work settings, according to a survey.

What workers want

In the past year, businesses have tried to strengthen corporate culture by increasing communication from leadership (50 per cent), supporting mental health (46 per cent) and focusing on DEI (45 per cent).

However, employees say that the top places culture needs to be stronger are in pay and benefits (43 per cent), communication from leadership (41 per cent) and better work-life balance (40 per cent).

Half (50 per cent) of employees think they are underpaid and 18 per cent would consider quitting their job if they don't get a raise by year's end, according to a survey by Robert Half.

Currently, 71 per cent of office workers say that their company has expectations for new employees and junior staff that don’t exist for senior employees and leadership, according to BambooHR. These include needing to work fixed, specific hours (39 per cent), being expected to always be online and respond immediately (34 per cent) and to always be in an office if there is one available (26 per cent).

“As companies settle on remote, hybrid or in-office workforces, changes to company culture will be a significant factor in how employees view that transition,” says Whitlock. “This data makes it clear that the role of HR is changing and it's time for leadership at the highest ranks to take notice.”

Nearly half (48 per cent) of senior managers give employees the ability to choose when they work, but almost two-thirds (61 per cent of) workers say they need at least eight hours a day to get their job done, according to a previous report.

HR’s struggles

Nearly half (47 per cent) of HR leaders say that in the last year, their tasks and responsibilities have become more difficult due to remote work.

While HR leaders say they prefer to spend their time connecting with employees (67 per cent), recruiting (49 per cent) and onboarding (32 per cent), nearly a quarter (22 per cent) of them say that remote work has caused them to spend most of the workday on tasks they dislike or hate 

And one in four (26 per cent) say that inappropriate behaviour by employees has increased this past year.

Not surprisingly, HR professionals’ least favourite tasks include firing or laying off employees (55 per cent), disciplinary action (34 per cent), confronting employees about sexual harassment/discrimination/policy violations (30 per cent), employees tattling (such as office politics) (30 per cent) and addressing bad hygiene (29 per cent).

With so many employees separated from their colleagues for so long, it’s crucial that leaders work to have strong relationships with their teams, says an HR professor.

Building effective culture

To create the conditions for effective culture in a hybrid environment, a lot of factors are needed, says sociologist Tracy Brower in an article published on Forbes. These include a shared purpose, accountability on the side of workers, fairness and transparency, among others.

“The most important thing to realize about hybrid working is the intentionality and effort necessary to maintain culture,” she says.

“Nothing will be automatic, and it will be nearly impossible to have a positive culture by default. Culture has always been a challenge to strengthen and sustain, but with hybrid work models, the level of difficulty will be increased many-fold. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.”

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