What kind of employee are you?

New study sheds light on what employers and workers really want.

02 April 2024

Trying to define the new world of work has been something of a fool’s errand since the pandemic. You might be forgiven for having a sceptical response to suppositions that we should be working a four-day week, or that millennials are more/less (delete as required) career-minded than older generations believe. For every article that identifies a positive outcome for remote or hybrid working, there’s a law of the internet that another will unequivocally state that, actually, we all want to go back to the office and the world will be the better for it.

The idea that maybe, just maybe, one size doesn’t fit all and individuals have expectations and behaviours that are a bit nuanced and hard to pigeonhole rarely gets a lookin. It’s understandable, from the viewpoint of the HR desk, where a high level of standardisation is the only way to deal with a ratio of around two HR staff to every 300 employees (South Africa is, by some reports, more or less in line with international benchmarks here). And it’s why the results of a recently published, large-scale study of 3 000 employees in the UK, conducted by Henley Business School, is so interesting, as it comes up with some grounded insights as to what employers and workers really want. It turns out that we really aren’t all the same. It’s always risky to suggest that the results of a study based in one specific geography can be transposed somewhere else.

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