Five ways to help workers thrive and drive business success

How can we, as employers, attract and retain talent by helping workers to thrive?

What does it mean to thrive at work? The answer will vary, but since the pandemic many have re-evaluated their work and life priorities. The conclusion?

Today’s workers want more. They want to:

  • be empowered to grow
  • nurture their mental fitness and physical wellbeing
  • find meaning and purpose in their work
  • define success on their own terms

After two years of surviving, people want to thrive. Amid the highest talent shortage in 16 years, employers must listen, rethink and act, to attract and retain the very best talent.

We asked over 5,000 workers from around the world (Australia, France, Italy, United Kingdom and United States) what they need to thrive at work. We then took it a step further by partnering with leading behaviour change technology company Thrive to help employers turn insights into action to ensure both organisations and individuals alike are resilient and primed to succeed:

1. Pushing the flexibility frontier: understand what flexibility means for all

The recent rapid adoption of hybrid and remote working has paved the way for many workers to redefine work with more control, choice and flexibility. It’s this flexibility, in many different forms, that will be the lasting legacy of the pandemic. Almost all workers (93%) now say that they need flexibility to thrive at work, but what does flexibility at work mean?

We’re not just talking about workers being able to work remotely and flex their schedule around other priorities; what we heard is that workers want more control:

  • 45% would like to choose the start and end times of their working day
  • 35% want to choose where they work based on their daily needs
  • 18% would work a four-day work week for less pay to achieve better balance.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but by offering choice and flexibility employers will succeed in attracting and retaining talent.

2. Rewriting the rules of leadership: prioritise trust and support

Workers are looking for more when it comes to their relationship with work and their employers. Mutual trust, a supportive environment and meaningful work, are essentials for workers to thrive -and they are willing to vote with their feet to get it. Leaders today need to combine meaningful, purpose-driven work (important to 70% of workers) with a strong culture of trust right across the organisation, as workers say both trusted colleagues (79%) and leaders (71%) are central to thriving at work.

To achieve this, organisations must equip managers and leaders with the right skills to manage empathetically and effectively, providing guidance, support and coaching to nurture potential and enhance the employee experience.

3. Thriving: how to respond to women and men’s differing needs

In the wake of the pandemic, women and men have differing priorities and flexibility needs. Overall, flexibility at the start and end of the day (49% women; 42% men) is more important than extra holiday days (33% women; 39% men). Working for organisations with shared values (69% women; 65% men) that provide mental fitness support (60% women; 54% men) are also key factors.

Employers who take steps now to offer both women and men the flexibility they need to thrive, will have the greatest chance of attracting and retaining the best talent from the widest pool.

4. Forging a family friendly future: support parents’ priorities

The collision of home, work and school life over the past two years has led parents to reassess and reprioritise their lives. Flexibility tops the bill when it comes to what parents want, particularly choosing when they start and finish work – but that’s not all.

Parents have tuned in to the importance of balance, wellbeing and belonging at work, and they are willing to walk to get it. In recent months, parents have left their jobs in greater numbers than non-parents. It’s critical that employers listen to working parents and offer the flexibility they need to thrive, including opportunities for:

  • career progression (75%)
  • learning new skills (73%)
  • help to stay healthy (56% want fitness resources; 54% want healthy food options).

5. Fighting burnout and building mental fitness: move from awareness to action

Mental wellbeing is no longer ‘nice to have’; an effective strategy to promote mental fitness is increasingly critical to business success. One in four (25%) workers now actively want more mental health support from employers to protect against burnout. However, despite growing awareness of the importance of managing mental wellbeing, 38% of workers have not used mental health resources at work or are unaware that these exist.

A powerful step employers can take is to destigmatise conversations around mental health, raising awareness and putting support in place. ​Mental health concerns won’t be solved overnight but it’s important for employers to create work environments where mental health is better understood, acknowledged and protected, for the long-term wellbeing of their employees.

The future of work is far from certain, but a resilient and thriving workforce is critical for organisations to successfully navigate intensifying talent shortages and the ongoing repercussions of the pandemic. Workers are asking for more flexibility and, ultimately, more choice. The employers who are willing to stop, listen and take action to provide what workers need to thrive will reap the rewards.

To learn more about what workers want and what employers need to do now to ensure both organisations and individuals alike are primed to succeed, read our What Workers Want: From Surviving to Thriving report.