Our latest research identifies what employees across the globe want and how employers can adapt to positively impact employee satisfaction.
- Of the five countries surveyed (Germany, France, the United States, the United Kingdom and South Africa), only the US has a happier workforce than South Africa. 66% of South Africans are very happy or happy in their current workplace. This increases to 86% with those working for companies who have implemented New Work principles already.
- However, 41% are open to leaving their workplace if an interesting opportunity comes up and another 40% are planning to leave their jobs in the near future. Both are the highest rating of all the countries.
- What employees want from their employers: Across all markets, flexible working hours are among the top items on the wishlist with nearly two-thirds of South African respondents seeing this as the most important change they want to see in the workplace.
- The possibility to work from home and receiving subsidies for further education scores almost equally high amongst South Africans (49% and 50%). 42% would also like to receive free personal development courses from their employer. In all these categories, South Africa has the highest score of all the markets.
- In reality, only 24% have flexible working hours and only 14% have full liberty to work from home. South African employers also don’t fare well with further development, with only 18% offering free personal development courses and 21% giving subsidies for further education.
The future of the workplace remains a hot topic in media, but how advanced are South African companies when it comes to implementing New Work attributes? Our research revealed that there is a big gap between what employees expect from the company they work for and what is actually being offered.
The study was conducted by our Insights team amongst a representative panel of 5 023 respondents from different types of businesses in South Africa, France, Germany, the UK and the US.
War for talent – one of the biggest challenges for businesses today
If companies are investing in employee happiness, it is also for a big part to attract and retain talent. But the survey results show that they still have a long way to go. Although 66% of South African employees say they are happy or very happy in their woand how companies can adapt to positively impact their satisfaction.rkplace, only 1 out of 5 employees have no plans to leave their current workplace, with 21% already actively looking for a new job.
This is slightly surprising since South Africa has the second-highest happiness score of all countries included, but in a country where job certainty is not a given, it can be expected that employees will always be on the lookout for opportunities.
Employee happiness – what they want and what they get
When it comes to the New Work benefits that workers would like to benefit from, employees from all over the world agree on their top choice: Flexible working hours are the most desired benefit for two out of three respondents (61% in South Africa). It is followed by receiving subsidies or payment for further education (50%), the possibility to work from home (49%), free personal development courses (42%) and team-building activities outside of the office (40%). This indicates that for the most part, South Africans have a strong desire to further their education and development.
The reality, unfortunately, sketches a different picture. Only 24% of South African respondents currently enjoy flexible working hours, 21% receive subsidies for further education, a mere 14% can easily work from home, 18% get free personal development courses and 22% benefit from team building activities outside the office.
Dealing with failure
One of the most important factors to see if businesses have really shifted their mindset to a new way of working is when you see how they deal with failure. Across all markets, not even half of the respondents say that occasional mistakes are considered acceptable within their company or even as a chance to grow. On the positive side, South Africa does score the highest of all participants (49%). The survey also shows that startups in general, as well as businesses that are already committing to New Work models, are generally a lot more open to failure and that their acceptance of occasional mistakes is much higher than the general average.
Businesses are changing the way they run their operations with the goal to increase productivity and attract talent. Although this is encouraging, change is slow and usually only aimed at creating a great place to work. Few companies are making bold structural changes where they remove hierarchies and empower their employees.—Natasha Fourie, Insights team in South Africa
To that point, only 20% of respondents say that the removal of hierarchies have been partially or fully implemented in their companies although the culture of transparency is higher with 40% feeling positive about the transparency and openness of their companies.
Looking at the employee perception, changing the way how you manage your teams could be the key to success in the war for talent and employee retention. 68% of respondents feel that empowered employees result in increased productivity.
Today we’re operating in an extremely fast-paced environment which requires a lot of adaptability and agility if you want to stay ahead of the game. We believe that the key to success is to empower employees and to turn everyone in the company into an entrepreneur. These work principals can sound quite scary to traditional employers, but at its core, it really is simply removing barriers to ensure an increased understanding and correlation between the person’s role and how this contributes to the company goals. When businesses need to pivot, the employee understands and embraces their role in this, thus becoming an active participant as opposed to an unwilling passenger.—Natasha Fourie, Insights team in South Africa
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