All Generations Value a Positive Workplace Culture

Baby boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z all care about workplace culture

The future of work series is based on the insights from my quantitative and qualitative research with ideas to think about your organization and a toolkit to take action on as a leader.  This theme focuses on the impact of workplace culture on the future of work.

The Future of Work study

This spring, I partnered with a group of women business owners focused on HR, market research, and corporate social responsibility titled “The Future of Work.”  Our goal was to learn what people wanted from the workplace post COVID and strategies organizations will need to address needs.  

There were over 250 respondents with the majority between ages 35 – 55 (62%) and spanned all generations in the workforce today.  It is worth noting that over 40% were senior leaders, 42% were individual contributors, with managers making up the remaining 18%.  Contrary to popular thought, older generations care about culture, just as much as the younger generations.  

Our key findings were:

  • Positive culture matters more than pay and benefits.  Having a positive workplace culture was identified as most important in choosing an employer.   That led the list at 85%, beating out fair pay at 75%  and health benefits at only 64% of the respondents.
  • Ethical reputation is not a nice to have, it is a must have.  While almost all culture-building programs had value to employees, the ethical reputation of an organization and clearly defined values were highly prized, with over 90% of respondents saying this focus was ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ important.  
  • Frivolous benefits are pale in comparison to culture.  When prioritizing needs for the future of work, respondents also said that making the world a better place (30%), having defined values (16%), and an effective diversity and inclusion program (13%) were the single most important factors.  These were decisively scored much higher than wellness programs, mental health programs, and physical health programs.

People want more from work.  COVID has been a magnifier for culture.  A senior VP illustrated this point, “a positive work culture is paramount for me being happy in a job. Even if the mission is wholeheartedly what I believe in, my experience as an employee can be squashed by mismanagement, workplace discrimination, or just a generally poor work culture.” 

Strategies to pivot forward positively

Digging through the data of the Future of Work study, we recommend these key strategies to organizations striving for a more positive workplace culture:

  • Respond to disruption.  Employees must be treated ethically with a focus on health and safety. Individuals are considering the impact of their roles personally and on society.
  • Manage your reputation.  Reputation for ethical behavior is a basic expectation from employees. Your reputation determines how employees believe they will be treated.
  • Build your vision.  Impactful leaders inspire and motivate teams to action. Addressing the needs of all stakeholders is critical to engaging employees.
  • Focus on diversity and inclusion.  Nearly 75% of employees feel D&I is still important. Diversity and inclusion has proven to lead to increased profitability, engagement, and innovation.
  • Engage the community.  Engage with your community to demonstrate your values. Provide employees with a sense of purpose for the community.  

While leaders are overwhelmed thinking about the future and generating sales and cash flow shorter term, employee engagement matters.  This data illustrates people want to feel good about where they go to work and spend most of their waking hours.  

Pausing investments on employee engagement and development is a mistake long-term.  Those that purposefully remain focused on positive workplace culture will thrive longer term.  Resist the temptation to cut budgets and think short-term.  Longer term your employees will reward you with loyalty and business results.

Toolkit to take action

Let this be an opportunity to pivot forward as a leader.  Get your team together virtually or live and be curious to learn from them.  Tell them you want to know how they feel about the workplace culture.  Invite them to take my free 20 question Diversity and Inclusion Engagement assessment and discuss the results as a team, asking:

  • WHAT IS WORKING:  What are we doing well culturally?
  • WHAT IS NOT WORKING:  What are things we are not doing well culturally?
  • PRIORITIES:  What areas do we want to prioritize on positive workplace culture?

The future of work will not be the same.  There is no return to normal.  Culture matters more in the  future of work.

This great pause is an opportunity to lead your team to success.  How are you going to take advantage of this opportunity?

If you liked this article, good news.  I created a future of work blog series and video series on the future of work.  You can find time to connect with me  1:1 to discuss ideas here.

We need our allies more than ever.  We will get through this together.  Because we are stronger together.

Message me with your thoughts at  I personally respond to every email I receive.