The global disruption of COVID-19 didn’t just shift the way we work, it left many of us reevaluating what we want from our work. 

This shift in perception is accelerating a transformation in the workplace. People are increasingly prioritizing flexibility and fulfilling work. They’re ready to move on from workplaces that don’t meet their needs. 

At LinkedIn we’re calling this the Great Reshuffle—and it’s a challenge for organizations across Asia-Pacific as they look to attract, engage, and retain talent. 

Years of data collection and analysis by Glint has found people who are happy in their jobs not only stay with their employer longer, but they’re also more productive. We can now show that employee happiness is a precursor to business success.

At our recent Asia-Pacific Glint People Success Summit we took a deep dive into what the most recent data is telling us about people’s happiness at work. We heard from global experts on how they’re reshaping the future of work and creating a world in which people love their jobs. 

What is the data telling us about happiness at work?

The Great Reshuffle is unlike anything we’ve seen in the history of work. Employees are rethinking not only how they work, but why they work. 

Previously, the mood of employees wasn’t well understood, or even prioritized. Now, however, data gives us insights into what talent wants and the impact of giving it to them. 

Archana Ramesh, Principal People Science Consultant at Glint & LinkedIn, and Justin Black, the Head of People Science at Glint & LinkedIn, walked through what the latest data is telling us about the mood of the workforce. Globally, employee happiness is down 3.5% over the past year, while burnout is up 12%—a challenging one-two punch, particularly as we all try to find some semblance of normal rhythms while working in a COVID world. 

Employee happiness has dropped 3.5%

Justin suggests that happiness at work requires finding new ways to thrive together. While early on in the pandemic, many organizations were good at reacting to the crisis, now talent leaders need to be proactive. 

But what does that look like? People who can bring their whole selves to work are happier and more productive, Justin says. And good workplaces have a number of factors that make it easier for people to do their best. He lists purpose, growth, empowerment, connection, clarity and wellbeing as the six key elements that can unlock pathways to greater workplace happiness.

And, because of Glint’s powerful analytical tools, he has the data to back up his list. The data shows, for example, that organizations which live their culture and values—and in so doing give their workers purpose—are 11 times more resilient in responding to change. Meanwhile, employees who see good opportunities to learn and grow within their organization are 3.6 times more likely to be happy. 

Justin suggests six questions that managers and talent leaders can use to start conversations around the People Success elements—an idea that was well received by APAC summit watchers. Comments revealed many people were focusing on growth and well-being within their organization.

“We’re certainly finding that as the nature of work changes—much faster than anyone expected—the nature of effective management/leadership is changing with it. How people need to foster belonging, recognize people, encourage collaboration, inspire around shared purpose—these things are utterly different in a hybrid, empowered world.” —APAC People Success Summit participant

“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” —APAC People Success Summit participant

What does this look like at scale?

In a session called “The Great Reshuffle: The Secrets to Engaging & Retaining Top Talent,” the APAC People Success Summit heard from a global panel. Joe Whittinghill, Corporate Vice President, Talent, Learning, and Insights at Microsoft; Jennifer Christie, CHRO at Twitter; and Danny Guillory, Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer at Dropbox; shared how they’re navigating the Great Reshuffle. 

Joe told the summit that Microsoft is unlocking the full potential of its growth mindset by shifting its culture from “know it all” to “learn it all.” Promoting learning, both on an individual and a team level, was key to this, as was doubling down on career progression. Empowering employees to have conversations with managers about their short- and long-term plans was also paying off. 

Internal mobility was also paying off for Twitter, according to Jennifer. The organization is taking it beyond career progression and creating pathways for talent to have complete career makeovers. Employees are encouraged to extend their skills and pick up new ones across a range of different projects. Transparency is emerging as a key way the platform is building trust with employees. Jennifer revealed that Twitter’s diversity dashboard allows employees to see the data and go beyond top-line numbers. 

Diversity and being a truly inclusive organization has also been on the agenda for Dropbox, Danny said. He reflected that while inclusion means more than “count and classify,” understanding how representative your organization was of society and addressing gaps is important. Dropbox is committed to hiring diverse teams, offering equitable development opportunities, and engaging in personal growth.

All three panelists reflected that when it came to people’s success and happiness at work (much of it done on the frontline), empowering managers to develop and lead teams has been key. Creating multiple ways for talent to be heard about what they needed is also vital. 

This was certainly reflected in the comments by Summit participants with a number agreeing that empowering staff was key to happiness:

“Psychological safety is so central to great cultures and engaging organizations. If we can be ourselves, speak up, and respond with a growth mindset to ‘failure,’ we’re always going to achieve so much more!” —APAC People Success Summit participant

“Psychological safety is so key for being able to truly gain a diverse viewpoint from across the organization.” —APAC People Success Summit participant

The next steps

Shifting organizational structures is significant work, and driving these changes often falls on talent leaders’ shoulders. So while we’re cultivating change in our workplaces, what are we doing for ourselves?

The final two speakers at the Summit reflected on the importance of inspiration at an individual level. The keynote chat, “Finding your Purpose” with Ben Crowe, challenged Summit participants to find acceptance in their day-to-day life and to avoid putting unrealistic expectations on themselves. As director at Mojo Crowe and life coach to super sports stars such as Ash Barty, Ben shared some of his quirky and counterintuitive principles with Georgina O’Brien, Head of Learning and Engagement at LinkedIn.

In his view, the unintended benefit of COVID-19 was that it gave people a different taste of how to live. Not only did it shatter many people’s illusion of control and force them to accept themselves and the world around them, it also gave people an insight into their own intrinsic motivations. For people looking to bolster their happiness and confidence, Ben encourages people to ask three questions: Who am I? What do I want? How do I get there?

Frank Koo, Head of Asia at LinkedIn, and Tetel Fernandez, Talent Management Head at Security Bank, shared a fireside chat on how to support managers to activate employee engagement, inspire positive energy and retention, and build thriving work cultures. Tetel told Frank that empowering employees to give feedback, being transparent with results, and then acting on it had been key to getting the most out of teams. 

For example, Tetel talked about how through using Glint, Security Bank was able to quickly identify skills gaps within particular teams and then deliver relevant development or training opportunities. 

The Summit—as well as more information on how to harness opportunities and avoid the pitfalls —is available on the event page. Watch the replay.