At a time when talent markets are in flux and businesses are still navigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, new research from Accenture reveals that only one in six people feels highly connected, in a human sense, at work — with people who work on-site feeling the least connected.
Accenture’s “Organizational culture: From always connected to omni-connected” report outlines how companies can strengthen culture and connection by delivering “omni-connected experiences,” which level the playing field, enabling people to participate fully and have an equitable experience — growing their careers, building relationships, and creating both personal and business value and impact — regardless of where they physically work.
The study challenges the assumption that working only on-site makes people feel more connected. People who work on-site, in comparison with those who work in hybrid or remote workplaces, feel the least connected of the three groups studied — 42% of on-site workers say they feel “not connected” versus 36% hybrid and 22% fully remote.
While in-person time is vital, physical proximity that lacks leadership support, flexibility, technology or sense of purpose doesn’t necessarily translate into people feeling deeper connections to their work and to each other.
The research also shows that companies whose people benefit from omni-connected experiences can realize a 7.4% annual revenue growth premium. Omni-connection also builds trust, with 29% of omni-connected workers saying they feel more likely to experience a deeper level of trust in their organization.
Additionally, being omni-connected accounts for 59% of an employee’s intention to stay in their job, and over 90% of omni-connected people say they can be productive anywhere.
“People and culture are organizations’ top sources of competitive differentiation and at the heart of growth. As people fundamentally re-evaluate their relationships with work, leaders have the opportunity to strengthen culture by looking beyond space and place,” said Ellyn Shook, chief leadership and human resources officer, Accenture.
“By creating omni-connected experiences, leaders put relationships first and level the playing field so every person can work to their full potential in ways that work for them—which deepens trust and drives business results.”
Building an omni-connected organization
Only 17% of the people surveyed felt they were benefitting from an omni-connected experience at work. The report provides a pathway for the C-suite to create omni-connected experiences that boost productivity, foster higher retention and drive revenue growth.
Leaders must start by meeting people’s fundamental human needs. The findings build on Accenture’s earlier “Net Better Off” research, which identified the six human needs that, when met, unlock two-thirds of people’s potential at work. Leaving people net better off by meeting these needs is the single most important predictor of successful omni-connected experiences.
The report identifies four key actions that unlock the value — for their people and business — through omni-connected experiences:
- Instill modern leadership: Lead by listening first and following commitment with action. When people feel safe to speak up, they should be met with empathy, compassion and respect. By communicating regularly and transparently, leaders can deepen trust with their people.
- Grow a thriving culture: People who see a clear line from their work to company purpose are more connected and fulfilled. Leaders can deepen that connection by championing how different ideas and experiences matter to the long-term success of the organization, and by creating an environment where people’s whole health is cared for.
- Enable the agile organization: Omni-connected experiences help people be productive wherever they are. Leaders need to expand the notion of flexibility to also consider when and how individuals work best. From there they can build flexibility frameworks that are agile enough to be adapted to meet changing needs in a fluid environment.
- Empower people through technology: Building a robust technology foundation in the cloud is the first step. The next are empowering people to experiment and explore emerging technologies like the metaverse and giving people the autonomy to improve their own processes using tech and data.
“Leaders are focused on accessing, creating and unlocking their people’s full potential, and are realizing that this is an opportunity to reassess their cultures and ways of working,” said Christie Smith, global lead for Talent & Organization, Accenture.
“By creating an environment where the focus is on connection, communication and fostering trust, leaders are signaling that their people’s time and talent are respected and valued, which our research shows pays dividends in terms of revenue and productivity.”
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