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The power of the change “within”

HR teams in the very best employers are finally starting to understand the power of change that comes from within. New employee-driven strategies for diversity and inclusion, well-being, and engagement, for example, are proving highly effective in generating the growth-driven transformation that so many businesses need.

In early 2022, HR Directors are finding their workloads are finally getting back to normal, aren’t they? No, not really. Whatever “Normal” once was, changed into a “New Normal” during the pandemic. Now we are perhaps in a “Never Normal” phase – the focus is still on change, but new drivers have started to emerge to make this happen.

Our annual Certification programme, which last month revealed a new list of 84 certified Top Employers in the UK, showed that the HR teams in the very best employers are finally starting to understand the power of change that comes from within. New employee-driven strategies for diversity and inclusion, well-being, and engagement, for example, are proving highly effective in generating the growth-driven transformation that so many businesses need.

This trend holds good across organisations of all shapes and sizes. The Top Employers Institute has certified more than 1,857 Top Employers globally for 2022. Among our UK businesses, there are 11 new entrants this year, including the McLaren Formula 1 racing team and the supermarket chain Lidl. And several businesses have performed with enduring excellence, with the likes of AkzoNobel, Harrods, PepsiCo UK and Travis Perkins having met our certification standards for over a decade. 

Change, growth and health
Our research shows that the top three business priorities for UK Top Employers in 2022 are:

  • 1st – Supporting organisational and cultural change (1st in 2021).
  • 2nd – Growth (expanding markets, segments, and geographies) (up from 5th).
  • 3rd – Health and safety of employees (3rd in 2021).

With this ongoing commitment to change, plus a renewed focus on growth in the year ahead, how can HR Directors best support these priorities? The clue lies in the 3rd priority – a healthy workforce immersed in everything they do.

A clear voice for employees – but on which issues?
The first thing HRDs can clearly see is that in 2022, change works best when it resonates with all employees at every level of an organisation. 89% of our UK Top Employers have “change champions” within the business (up from 61% in 2021), 96% communicate early with employees on high-impact changes (up from 88%), and 83% involve them in the organisational design of work (up from 76%).

This stronger voice for employees can also be seen in three other aspects of HR management in which Top Employers excel.

Engagement. Employee-led engagement initiatives are also helping Top Employers move further and faster. More than four in five (81%) consistently offer Pulse surveys multiple times per year, in addition to the traditional annual engagement survey. Work-life balance issues are the strongest areas for improvement from these surveys – the 2nd biggest priority for employees (up from 10th this time last year). Clearly, having a bigger say over work/life balance has become central to employee engagement.

Well-being. Here UK Top Employers are creating lasting change, with more than two-thirds (67%) consistently involving their employees in the design of well-being strategy. To a growing number of HRDs, a focus on well-being is now more than a reaction to the stresses and strains of the pandemic. Of itself, well-being creates the hope for better business performance from a healthy and productive workforce. 

Diversity and Inclusion. Diversity and inclusion strategies are being supported by employees in several ways. 76% have D&I employee networks advising them on best practice (from 52% in 2021); and 85% involve them when building a diverse and inclusive culture (from 70%). 

The power of the change from “within” is becoming obvious. Businesses everywhere need to understand quite how valuable a commodity this has become in 2022. Employee-driven change is here to stay. 

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