Workplace Culture

SPARC M7 Processor

Championing a New Workplace Democracy before Employee Dissatisfaction Boils Over

Andy Campbell, HCM Strategy Director at Oracle @axcampbe


How can businesses create an engaging workplace culture, when our Theory to Action study reveals the troubling levels of dissatisfaction felt among non-managers in Western Europe?

Pay will always be a motivator for employees, but people are increasingly placing as much, if not more emphasis on workplace culture. We all want to feel that we play a significant role in our company’s success and that our employer in turn is focused on our well-being. The best employees understand the value they deliver and want to feel the business is repaying them in reward and recognition.

This is true at every step of the pay scale, but we recently investigated this further in our From Theory to Action study which revealed that Western European businesses are not treating senior employees and non-managers in the same way.

It’s hardly surprising that under these conditions only 37% of non-managers feel proud to work for their organization, compared with 70% of directors and senior managers. This satisfaction gap should be of major concern to European businesses. At a time when ageing talent will soon be retiring and the much-publicized EU skills gap has never seemed more daunting, keeping talent on board at all levels is crucial.

Achieving this requires a workplace culture that is as engaging as it is challenging.

 While roughly 70% of directors and 60% of senior managers feel their company is concerned with their well-being, less than a quarter of those outside the management ranks feel the same.   

Mind your talent

It’s true that senior workers are responsible for much of the business’ strategic impetus and can claim responsibility for their team’s successes, but innovative thinking is happening at every step of the pay scale. Companies that do not give employees the opportunity to showcase their talent or the incentive to push themselves risk losing out on valuable contributions.

While over 60% of directors and senior managers say their training is linked to their development plan, just 21% of non-managers would agree. Even more disturbing is the fact that only 31% of non-managers have had a development review in the past 12 months, compared to 70% of their senior colleagues.

It’s no secret that engaged employees are happier, more productive, and more committed. Our Simply Talent study found that employees who feel more engaged are less likely to look for work elsewhere, and considering our latest research reveals only 39% of non-managers see a long term future with their organization, companies and HR teams should be making personalized training and development a top priority.

Development and training is not only crucial to keeping employees happy, but it also ensures your workforce is learning the skills they need to help the entire business achieve its goals.

Development and training is not only crucial to keeping employees happy, but it also ensures your workforce is learning the skills they need to help the entire business achieve its goals.

 Unfortunately, it appears companies are also overlooking their non-management staff when it comes to their growth .   

Create a modern, collaborative environment

Two major elements of an engaging workplace culture are access to modern professional technologies and the ability to collaborate with ease.

Consider how mobile technology is being used in the utilities space. Today’s field worker requires a view of network and customer data on their mobiles to complete service jobs as quickly and efficiently as customers expect. In an office environment, young employees do not want to be limited by a company’s legacy processes if they know new technologies and approaches will allow them to work and collaborate more effectively.

Of course the business will benefit as well. When workers have instant access to information they can complete more tasks more quickly, which saves both time and money for their employer.

This is where social media and collaboration technologies come into play. People are used to interacting in a fluid, immediate way both at home and at work. They quickly share information and updates with peers, and just as easily source the expertise of their colleagues to solve challenges. Companies that allow workers to interact in this way will build a more cooperative workplace culture and empower every one of their employees to innovate.

Social media at work isn’t about giving people license to browse Twitter and Facebook all day. It’s about accepting that your employees want to learn from each other, and that social platforms are powerful enablers of better collaboration.

 Employees want to feel their company keeps pace with change and provides them with the resources to perform at their best .   

These technologies add value across the business, but Oracle’s research show that non-managers also feel let down by their companies in this regard. Just 22% of non-management employees feel they have access to online or collaborative learnings tools to promote their development, compared with nearly three-quarters of directors.

These findings suggest senior staff have access to vastly different resources than non-managers, but while this may be true in some cases the issue really comes down to changing worker expectations. Employees at every level now want access to technologies that allow them to work more efficiently and in a way that mirrors their daily lives, and will not be satisfied in an environment where these tools are not available.

A democratic approach

The leaders of some of today’s most successful organizations are younger than many of the people who work for them.

It’s also worth noting that the benefits will extend beyond current employees. A more attractive workplace culture will also prove more attractive to prospects and future hires. At a time where the youth skills shortage has never been more pronounced and experienced workers are nearing retirement age, businesses must do what they can to make themselves attractive to the best talent.

A modern workplace needs to provide a democratic environment for learning and development. It must be one where knowledge and collaboration cut across seniority and pay, and in which every employee is in a position to reach their potential and feel a sense of pride.

 Experience and tenure are certainly valuable assets, but they are not the sole indicators of an employee’s potential   

It is the role of HR to step up to the task and champion this new democracy. We all know change begins in the boardroom, and it will take HR leaders that champion employees’ needs at the boardroom table to close the current satisfaction gap and push Europe’s workplace culture in the right direction.