Q&A: What is the state of workplace culture after a year of the pandemic?

Laraine McKinnon, Talent and Culture Strategist at Emtrain
Apr 20, 2021

The pandemic shook up company cultures in 2020 as people adjusted to the “new normal” at work. So where does workplace culture stand a year later?  In this episode of POPS!, Emtrain Talent and Culture Strategist Laraine McKinnon shares findings that small business owners should pay attention to, gleaned from 23 million employee data points.  […]

The pandemic shook up company cultures in 2020 as people adjusted to the “new normal” at work. So where does workplace culture stand a year later? 

In this episode of POPS!, Emtrain Talent and Culture Strategist Laraine McKinnon shares findings that small business owners should pay attention to, gleaned from 23 million employee data points. 

In this Q&A episode, you’ll hear: 

  • [00:33-01:00] What data reveals about the areas of culture that business owners should be paying attention to 
  • [01:03-02:17] Key finding #1: Employees are less likely to say “no” to an inappropriate request
  • [02:18-03:15] Key finding #2: Employees are more committed to being “upstanders”
  • [03:17-04:54] Key finding #3: Social aptitude is on the rise

After you listen:

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POPS Star Bio

Laraine McKinnon is a Talent and Culture Strategist at Emtrain, a company providing innovative diagnostic frameworks for inclusion, ethics and respect, deployed on a modern SaaS platform. Laraine connects Emtrain’s CultureTech capabilities to clients’ talent and culture initiatives, provides social media thought leadership, and crunches the numbers for culture insights benchmarking.

Transcript

Laraine: What’s the state of company culture after a year of the pandemic? 

Didi: Welcome to Pop’s, the show that shows you how to shift from human resources paperwork to people operations for the new world of work. How? By answering one question at a time.

To help us answer your question. Here’s Laraine McKinnon, Talent and Culture Strategist at Emtrain. 

Laraine: So the state of workplace culture is a little bit stressed after the pandemic, but we don’t just look at the pandemic as being the leading cause. So we measured 370,000 employees through our online training and collected 23 million employee sentiment data points and found that there are three key areas that small businesses should be watching for their organizations.

The first key area is around power dynamics and we saw a shift. In 2021 and 2020, employees are less likely to say no to an inappropriate request. Only 33% of people feel comfortable saying no to an inappropriate request that’s made by a manager. 44% aren’t confident that their management would take it seriously if they raised a complaint about something inappropriate that happened in their workplace. We can think of this as stress for employees who are managing an uncertain financial situation, who are needing their jobs, who are worried about layoffs and furloughs and who may feel under pressure to fit in.

So business owners and managers need to take a little bit more care to understand where and when they might be asking something that isn’t really something that’s part of someone’s job, whether that’s a touch, a request to do something personal, or something personal at home, employees are going to have a harder time saying no, because they really need their job, and because managers and business owners are in a position of authority to be asking for that thing to be done. We also found that more people are committed to being upstanders. So while there were lots of challenges, greater understanding, and a lot of hurt and pain around racial justice and injustices, more people understanding that the world and the workplace have not been fair.

More people are committed to being an upstander. 27% said they’d be an upstander in 2019, that is, to intervene or act in some way. If they see something happening that shouldn’t be happening in the workplace. 32% agreed to be upstanders in 2020. 5% more people think that their coworkers would address something inappropriate if they saw it.

And we had a great increase, 18% more people say that they would intervene if they saw something happening, even if they didn’t know that person, they didn’t have a personal connection. The third finding is around social aptitude, which is like social intelligence and the emotional intelligence. It’s a measure of how well organizations and their individuals understand the impact of their words and actions on others.

This is related to empathy, which we think is the skill of the decade. And again, back to the pandemic, changes and work from home, financial stress, parents trying to parent while they’re working. There’s just a lot of expectations that people have for organizations to be a little bit more empathetic.

They’re seeing an increase in empathy from their colleagues where 15% more employees saw an increase in empathy from their coworkers. They’re expecting people to be more aware of unconscious bias and they’re holding their employers to a higher standard. So when we look and measure companies on their social aptitude, and we measure them in a way that we can understand if a company is healthy or unhealthy, 40% of employees must agree that employers understand the impact of their words and actions, or they’ll be in the bottom core tile.

And healthy feedback is expected. If someone does something inappropriate, will others let them know? Over 53% of employees must agree that that’s the case in order to be ranked as a healthy company on our workplace culture benchmark, we’re both hopeful and optimistic about where workplace culture can go.

We see that employees are much more aware, uh, much more empathetic, and really helping to drive their company culture. We also think that American corporations and corporations around the world have a great opportunity to set behavioral standards that will help to influence society. 

Didi: Do you have a question for our experts?

You can always email me at [email protected] or head on over to zenefits.com/pops-podcast for more insights on content for this show and our others. Thanks for listening.

 

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