In the modern working world, employees want their passions to be reflected in the company they work for; long gone are the days of being grateful for a job to the point where you suppress the most truthful parts of yourself to stay employed.
Competitive salaries, free lunches and an office slide were all the rage in 2010, but now there are more important questions that we should be asking to help create happy employees. The cultural and political shift spearheaded by the LGBTQI+, feminist, religious and black communities in Britain has brought attention to the diversity-elephant in the room like never before and employees want to work in a place which protects and serves their life experience.
How on earth does a business navigate that?
The idea of business etiquette and norms are likely to always exist in some form - and remain as strong as ever in traditional industries such as legal and finance - but in more fluid industries such as media and advertising, workplaces are being humanised.
Take millennials as a case study. They now account for slightly over a third of the workforce (38%) and, within the next decade, that figure is set to shoot up to 58%. Unlike previous generations, millennials are part of a growing cultural awareness of mental wellbeing and have a much stronger sense of who they are within a global community, in part due to the acceleration of information via the internet. The outlier is now connected globally to millions of people - and with that comes self-esteem and reinforced values and it’s clear that millennials and gen Z have a different idea of how they want their lives to work in the long term. Here are their top five asks, according to the Millennial Report 2018:
For the organisation to match their values
They want opportunities to re-skill
They want a roadmap to their career progress
They want to work remotely
Flexible working between freelancing, permanent and contracts
These principles are becoming front and centre of social conversations which have now found an audience within the workplace. But, with 84% of millennials and gen Z suffering burn out, there is a real human need for the workplace environment to change – for good – and the need to acknowledge the wider human experience outside of the office cannot be ignored, for the benefit of millennials and wider groups
Do you love me?
In October 2018 I started a podcast called ‘Dope Black Dads’. Prompted by a WhatsApp group of the same name and created on Father’s Day, it provided support and direct appreciation for those fathers who were struggling to find a safe space which acknowledged the experience of being a black father in Britain - in turn, helping them decode their lived experience.
Six months later, we had been featured in The Guardian and the movement has exploded from a small community project into a social movement - spearheading the conversation on how not just to be better parents, but also how to contribute to Britain in a positive way.
Recognising this important element in my life, the senior leadership team at Hogarth approached me in February 2019 offering their full support to help me produce and distribute my podcast from their studios. Now, once a week, after hours, I record the audio and video of the podcast on site - and the next day it is delivered to me to distribute. This is very much above and beyond a traditional working agreement, but it has increased my connection and loyalty to Hogarth exponentially. I am now not just an employee of Hogarth; now the company has been woven into my fabric through combining my passion for advertising with my life purpose - creating better outcomes for black families. Hogarth recognised this important aspect of my life, and stepped in to support wholeheartedly in a unique circumstance, instead of blanket offering me benefits the company thought I might want.
No? Then leave me alone?
That said, for every person in your business that wants their work/life balance more integrated, there will be someone who wants to switch off at the end of the day and escape the office - the idea of leaving your employees alone is a two-way street.
Not every employee will have a cause or passion project; there will always be plenty of very skilled people who prefer to maintain personal privacy or don’t want to combine their life purpose and their work or who don’t want to work remotely. Furthermore, realistically it wouldn’t be possible - or even necessary - to record 1000 podcasts for every employee. Nevertheless, the message from my experience should be clear; for those who do have passion points outside work, it’s important for the company to try and accommodate that as a part of the business ethos, employee acquisition and retention strategies.
Speaking from my experience as a working Dad, I’ve been fortunate enough to find Hogarth that recognised my human circumstance, in turn securing my happiness and enthusiasm to grow with the company. This next era of the workplace is not one that merely reflects the identity of its employees, but actively embraces it.
Marvyn Harrison is head of content strategy at Hogarth Worldwide