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A look at leadership and culture shifts to expect in 2024: Challenges and opportunities for empathy, flexibility, skill-building and resilience

by | Oct 20, 2023 | Public Relations

Post-pandemic workplace challenges like remote-work expectations, a more socially aware and demanding society, and a brash new generation entering the workforce are creating unprecedented company-culture challenges for business leaders, and solutions as yet remain elusive. New research from organizational culture development firm O.C. Tanner examines the current state of the workplace, aiming to equip leaders with the necessary insights and strategies to meet today’s most immediate and consequential challenges head on.

The firm’s 2024 Global Culture Report, now in its sixth year, is based on data gathered from more than 42,000 employees, leaders, HR practitioners, and executives from 27 countries worldwide. 

A look at leadership and culture shifts to expect in 2024: Challenges and opportunities for empathy, flexibility, skill-building and resilience

Among other pressing topics, the report provides an extensive analysis of the group that makes up four-fifths of the world’s workers—many of which feel overlooked and underappreciated, despite being essential to success. The group, referred to as “the 80 percent,” overwhelmingly lacks access to the tools, technology, and opportunities necessary to connect and advance in their workplace, and the autonomy and voice to shape their workplace experience.

A look at leadership and culture shifts to expect in 2024: Challenges and opportunities for empathy, flexibility, skill-building and resilience

“Workplace cultures have seismically shifted over the past three years, and there are no signs of letting up. As the aftershocks and debates around workplace fundamentals, employee priorities, and leaders’ roles continue, this year’s report serves as a roadmap with insights to better navigate the ongoing transformation,” said Gary Beckstrand, vice president of the O.C. Tanner Institute, in a news release. “Organizations, especially those with large populations of frontline employees, need to work closely with their teams to create thriving workplace cultures—where all want to come, do their best work, and stay—in the face of ongoing change, and this research will help enable leaders to do so.”

A look at leadership and culture shifts to expect in 2024: Challenges and opportunities for empathy, flexibility, skill-building and resilience

The report also emphasizes that people-centric solutions are the ones that win and endure—every employee wants to feel seen and valued, and resilience must exceed surviving the next challenge.

“Beyond an abundance of quality research that helps us better understand employee experiences worldwide, the 2024 Global Culture Report findings provide a reason for hope,” said Mindi Cox, O.C. Tanner chief people and marketing officer, in the release. “We have a variety of crucial issues to attend to, but we’re seeing conditions and calculations with promise —numbers that translate into confidence that small shifts in the way organizations manage change, build skills, act with empathy, and develop resilience can create healthier workplace cultures.”

A look at leadership and culture shifts to expect in 2024: Challenges and opportunities for empathy, flexibility, skill-building and resilience

Other key findings include:

  • Only 27 percent of leaders feel strongly prepared to help their people navigate change.
  • Employees who perceive their leaders have the tools to help them manage change are:
    • 5x more likely to feel a sense of community
    • 6x more likely to thrive at work
    • 10x more likely to feel a strong sense of trust
    • 76 percent less likely to experience burnout
  • When leaders have the tools to help employees manage change, their own risk of burnout decreases by 73 percent.
  • When employees have a voice in organizational changes, there are greater odds of: belief the organization is people-centric (8x), feelings of trust (8x), sense of community (5x), and thriving at work (3x).
  • Only 59 percent of employees feel their leaders’ expressions of empathy are accompanied by meaningful action and support, and only 58 percent of organizations take action to improve after receiving employee feedback.
  • Employees picture themselves staying 2.5 years longer at their organization when their leader is empathetic.
  • When looking at the widening gap between the employee experience of “the 80 percent” and their corporate counterparts:
    • Workers in “the 80 percent” category are nearly 2x as likely as their corporate peers to feel they had no options when they accepted their jobs.
    • Only 35 percent feel they have freedom to take time away from work for personal errands (compared to 58 percent of corporate workers).
    • Only 45 percent say their organization supports them in learning new skills at work (compared to 69 percent of corporate workers).
  • Half (50 percent) of “the 80 percent” feel expendable at work; only 30 percent feel seen and valued.
  • Nearly two of every five in “the 80 percent” say they are viewed as inferior by employees in the office. Almost as many (35 percent) report senior leaders minimize or dismiss their ideas, and 39 percent say their work is not valued as highly as office work.
  • The five contributing factors to creating equitable flexibility: leadership support, organizational support, employee empowerment, work choice, and time management.
    • When flexibility is equitable, there are 8x higher odds that employees want to stay another year.
  • While people universally want flexibility for themselves, 68 percent feel it should also be available to every employee regardless of role. However, only about half (57 percent) say their culture supports flexibility in every job.
  • Odds of burnout increase 5x when employees are dissatisfied with the level of flexibility at work.
  • There are 5X greater odds of employee fulfillment when an organization supports skill building.
  • Many organizations believe employees who want to learn new skills are plotting to expand their employment options. However, less than a quarter of workers (22 percent) say they’d want to build skills to leave for a job in a new field at a different organization.
    • Instead, 83 percent of workers said it’s important for prospective organizations to offer skill-building opportunities and the top reasons for wanting them are to improve performance in a current job (54 percent) and to achieve personal growth (53 percent).
    • Organizations that don’t provide any skill building have 76 percent lower odds of having a thriving workplace culture and 72 percent lower odds of having employees say they still want to work there in a year.
  • Nimbly resilient employees, leaders, and organizations are guided by three powerful principles: adaptability, proactivity, and perseverance.
    • Only 30 percent of employees believe their organization is nimbly resilient.
  • Over half (53 percent) of employees say they’re expected to just push through challenges without complaint, which leads to a 125 percent higher likelihood of burnout.
  • Employees who believe their leaders are nimbly resilient are 9x more likely to think they are also nimbly resilient, which leads to higher likelihoods of engagement (+582 percent), feeling a strong sense of fulfillment in their work (+233 percent), and experiencing less burnout (–79 percent).

A look at leadership and culture shifts to expect in 2024: Challenges and opportunities for empathy, flexibility, skill-building and resilience

Download the full report here.

The O.C. Tanner Institute, O.C. Tanner’s research, analytics, and education team, uses multiple research methods to support the Global Culture Report, including interviews, focus groups, cross-sectional surveys, and a longitudinal survey.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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