Employee Appreciation Beyond Pizza Parties

Everyone loves perks and freebies. Sure, the corporate sustainable shopping bags and water bottles are cute, and free pizzas and drinks on Friday afternoons are great. But when it comes to the decision of whether to jump ship, no one ever said that those fun perks made them stay with the company. While IDC’s FOW Global Survey reveals that about 60% of organizations in APAC have trouble finding the right retaining them needs more than just good-to-have perks.

The workforce is exhausted. The pandemic has dragged on for more than two years and people feel their exhaustion compounding as they cope with uncertainty, grief, illness, and disruptions in their daily life. Working parents and caregivers struggle with online school, care duties, and full-time work.

At the same time, the grim outlook of the global economy brought about a powerful paradigm shift where people want more meaningful jobs that contribute to the social good and sustainable causes.

This strong undercurrent of this mindset change is one of the key factors driving the “Great Resignation” or, more precisely, “The Great Re-shuffling”, with as much as 40% – 75% of employees quitting their job to join another one. This is a major wake-up call for employers who haven’t paid enough attention to talent retention. Around one-third of leaders globally said that employee retention is one of the top business priorities.

Source: IDC Future of Work Global Survey, April 2022 (n = 1,250)

Organizations are facing unprecedented challenges in managing their workforce and business. Leaders must manage the crashing waves of obstacles arising from new hybrid work models while still trying to enhance employee AND customer experience. There’s a lot to plan and too little time and resources to solve every challenge.

At IDC, we believe that if there’s one remedy that leaders can afford to apply immediately, it’s this: Empathy. That is, being empathetic towards their employees, and nurturing their trust and loyalty. Our latest Future of Work Global Survey 2022 uncovers that 47% of leaders in APAC are planning to have new management models that are supportive and empathetic. When compared with 38% in North America and 32% in Europe, the number is a great sign that APAC leaders are recognizing the importance of being empathic.

So what can leaders do to be more empathetic?

  • First, they need to see employees as the central source of value in all business activities. Employees are the ones who get the job done and move the business forward. They should be equipped with the right tools, technology, and devices to do their jobs well. Scrimping on these will no doubt impede their productivity.
  • Leaders need to listen to and understand employees’ voices and needs. Workers at different life stages have different needs, so a one-size-fits-all strategy will not work. Leaders must communicate with authenticity, honesty, and transparency. During disruptive times such as pandemics, political crises, or corporate crises, employees want to hear the truth from their leadership, which may matter even more to them than the bad news.
  • Leaders must recognize their employees as human beings with values, emotions, personal lives, and family commitments. The past two years have raised greater awareness towards the importance of mental health and wellbeing, and more are open to discussing it. This is especially a big deal in Asia, where mental issues have long been considered a sign of “weakness”. The 2022 IDC FOW employee survey in Asia-Pacific shows that health and safety is a top concern for employees, with 60% choosing to work remotely beyond the pandemic for this exact reason. As employees are more openly prioritizing their health and wellbeing, leaders must recognize this need. Leaders need to acknowledge that there is no business without a healthy workforce.
  • Lastly, truly empathetic leaders turn empathy into action. They are willing to make positive changes for their workforce and stick with the changes.

Research has long demonstrated the profound impact of leadership effectiveness on organizational performance and health. Empathetic leaders can shape the organization’s culture of trust and drive employee engagement and retention, which in turn shapes business values and outcomes.

Source: IDC Future of Work Global Survey, AP, April 2022 (n = 550)
IDC APEJ Future of Work Employee Perspective Survey, 2022 (n = 601)