The workplace power dynamic has shifted in favour of employees.

This is according to the inaugural International Workforce Insights Study from BCW, which reveals that more than half of all employees say they feel more empowered to influence change in their workplace compared to a year ago, including with their employer’s business strategy (54%), company culture (55%) and their work experience (59%).

This feeling of empowerment is most pronounced among Generation Z and Millennials.

The study, of more than 7 000 employees from across five industries and six countries, which took place between 24 August and 7 September 2021, finds that, despite the widespread difficulties caused by Covid-19, the majority of employees say they feel more productive (62%), more connected to their colleagues (62%), more valued by their employer (60%) and a stronger sense of workplace community (59%) since the start of the pandemic.

Three-fifths of respondents also say that they have seen an increase in leadership listening to employee feedback (59%), as well as improvements to their work experience (59%), work culture (58%), and work life balance (60%) over the same period.

The research finds that flexibility is a key priority for the global workforce moving forward. Flexible hours or a hybrid work environment (67%) are the top changes employees are looking for from their organizations, with other top-ranked demands of employers including meaningful work, feeling supported/valued by managers and team members, workplace benefits/perks, and effective leadership.

Younger generations, in particular, indicated that they will likely leave their employer within the next year, with one in five Gen Z (21%) and one in six Millennials (18%) agreeing. And, the biggest difference between respondents saying they will leave their company within the next year and those saying they will stay, is around whether they see a commitment to fostering culture, employee value, and the ability for employees to have their voices heard.

“The results show that the increased flexibility and effort made by organisations to connect and engage with employees throughout the pandemic has paid dividends,” says James Morley, head of transformation at BCW. “Employees are feeling more valued, more empowered, and more vocal about their expectations in the workplace.

“As leaders prepare for the ‘next normal’ – including moves to implement return to office policies – they need to be mindful of these expectations and needs. Employees increasingly want their voices heard, and failure to adequately address that will likely lead to high rates of attrition – particularly among younger generations.”

Christine Trodella, director: workplace from Facebook, adds: “It’s great to see employees feeling more empowered to effect positive change within their organisations. As people return to work, they’ll expect this to continue.

“For businesses, this means ongoing investment in the employee experience and continued focus on empathy and authenticity. Employee expectations will continue to increase whether workers are desk-based or on the frontline and businesses will need to make sure they’re turning these expectations around culture, collaboration and connectivity into reality.”