On the wish list, a new company culture

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Q:  I am hoping to change jobs in 2021.  Everyone tells me that I should be grateful that I have a job.  But the management team micromanages us.  Our lunch hours are scheduled to the minute.  If we leave the office to take a call from a doctor, it is questioned.  We are boxed in so tight.  If we make a mistake, it is broadcasted at our weekly meeting.  “This week, we had an issue with ABC client.”  Everyone knows whose client it is.  It is part of the culture to humiliate, but our management team thinks they are using it as a “teachable moment” when it is really public shaming.  There is a lot of swearing and ridiculing.

Am I wrong to think there are better work environments out there?

A: I understand your concerns.  Employers are often challenged by attracting and retaining employees.  Employees all have different needs, goals and demands.  Competitive pay and benefits are one part of the puzzle.  Culture is a significant factor when employees decide to start looking for opportunities outside a company.

Mercer has conducted a number of studies, across industries around the world.  Several common factors were identified in 2018.  Flexibility was at the top of the list.  Flexibility to take a call from a doctor.  Telecommuting, flexible work schedules and the ability to take time off were all identified as top ways to attract and retain talent.

Additionally, employees were looking for ways to maintain a healthy life.  Workplace wellness programs are one way to address that need.  Health screenings, discounts to gyms or fitness centers, walking clubs, meditation programs and standing desks are all ideas worth considering.

Employees are also looking for a purpose in the work that they do.  Sharing customer success stories, linking an employees’ effort to a company’s vision and expressing gratitude were all discussed in the Mercer study.

We are seeing shorter stints at employers, as employees can easily get a promotion or a better working environment down the street. A career path that is flexible, not just tied to years of service, is often a way to retain employees.  Learning and professional development opportunities drive some employees.

Some employers are still aggressively hiring even during this pandemic.  Yes, the hospitality industry has been hit hard but there are some sectors which are still hiring and growing.  I think once we have a vaccine, Massachusetts will return to growth mode.

Dust off your resume.  Get active on LinkedIn.  Start reaching out to friends, former co-workers and others within your professional network. You will likely secure a new role through someone you know.  There are positive workplaces out there.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.