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RAPP UP

The secret to success in 2022? Empowering employees

In order for businesses to continue to thrive, employees must be prioritised

Leaders will understandably want to start their advance into 2022 by focusing on bold plans to build on growth (or ground gained) last year and to put their businesses in the right position to harness every opportunity that the next twelve months brings.

While this is all very understandable it is not what leaders should be focusing on as we enter our third pandemic year. Instead, first and foremost, businesses should be listening to their employees and adapting to their needs.

While 69% of leaders believe that their organizations have managed the transition to remote and hybrid working smoothly, only half (49%) of employees agree, according to a recent report from the Capgemini Research Institute. Just 37% of employees say that their organisations are actively empowering teams to make their own decisions and less than half felt included and heard by their organisation through the course of the pandemic.

“Businesses must join forces with their people to help to realise their ambitions and make their initiatives a reality. It’s not just about empowerment, it requires enablement”

- Chris Freeland, Executive Chairman at RAPP

Businesses that succeed this year will be those that are truly people centric. This doesn’t just mean sending around the occasional employee survey to make people feel heard. It requires you to empower workers to actually steer the future of the company.

At RAPP, many of our key policies and initiatives, on everything from ways of working and DE&I to wellbeing and sustainability, did not originate with me or members of the leadership team. They came from employees at all levels who are equally as passionate about making our business the best place it can be and are brimming with innovative ideas and the passion to drive them through. Their ideas, feedback, suggestions, concerns and passions are what drive us forward — not some abstract master plan cooked up by a select few at the top.

Along with giving employees the opportunity to bring about the change they want to see, the business must join forces with its people to help to realise their ambitions and make their initiatives a reality. It’s not just about empowerment, it requires enablement.

The positive impact of people empowerment at work cannot be underestimated. It creates feelings and experiences people will take home with them and has the power to positively reverberate and even propel people forward in their lives outside work and in their communities.

Employers must champion real empathy above all else. Listen to your people, create space for them and be an active support in helping them to realise their goals

Chris Freeland, Executive Chairman at RAPP

Of course, it doesn’t stop there. No business leader can be under the illusion that employees must fit and adapt their lives around the needs of their employer. Not only should employees be part of decision making, businesses must serve the needs and life stages of employees and embrace flexibility or risk becoming obsolete. We’ve put inclusivity, wellbeing support and personal development at the core of operations. For example, we are encouraging a ‘Work Where You Work Best’ philosophy so that people can make their own choices about where they base themselves when they are working, be it at home, the office, or in some instances from a different country. To help ease the transition back to work in the office on a hybrid basis we invited all employees to a “Fresher’s Week” of activities, including meet and greet, training and development and workshops all designed to ease everyone into a new world of hybrid working.

Three-quarters of UK white-collar workers are thinking about quitting their jobs or changing their careers due to burnout, a lack of work-life balance and toxic workplace environments, with more than half of all staff suffering from bouts of low morale, according to a recent survey which also reports 18% of people think their bosses don’t care about their mental wellbeing. Employers must champion real empathy above all else. Listen to your people, create space for them and be an active support in helping them to realise their goals.

Your business has no future without happy healthy staff. All the business plans in the world won’t save you if you are failing the most fundamental part of your business — the people. They are the key to its success, growth and ability to compete. Truly empowered employees are the secret to business success in 2022.

Chris Freeland is the Executive Chairman of RAPP UK

This article originally ran in the Creative Brief, February 2022

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RAPP UK

Learn more at https://www.rapp.com/locations/london/

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