Pursuing Progress: The Evolving Employer-Employee Relationship

Black woman working in a factory

This blog is the first installment of RALIANCE’s “Pursuing Progress” series, focused on stakeholder groups pushing for companies to take steps toward progress and culture change. Up this week: employees.

The pandemic – as well as a surge of social justice activism – brought fundamental changes to the way employers and employees relate to each other. Here’s what employers need to know about how the landscape has shifted:

1. The pandemic revealed workforce needs. Many industries shifted to remote work while children remained out of school, and the struggle for parents to balance their work and personal lives became increasingly difficult. This shift has increased pressure on companies to meet the needs of working parents by taking measures like strengthening maternity and paternity leave benefits and subsidizing child care. Additionally, an inordinate number of workers lost loved ones during a pandemic, raising new questions about the role of bereavement leave in the workplace.

2. Labor power has increased. The pandemic’s economic impacts have created labor shortages, leading to higher wages and pushes for better working conditions. (RALIANCE grantee Ya Basta Center is a notable example of what’s possible when a workforce makes a collective push for a culture change around critical issues, such as sexual harassment, misconduct, abuse.) In this new environment, it’s more imperative than ever that employers seek guidance from their workforces on employee needs.

3. Employees greatly value diversity. The pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color and a surge of Black Lives Matter activism in 2020 have led to a reckoning on workplace diversity. A CNBC workforce survey found that 80% of employees want to work for a company that values diversity, equity and inclusion. Notably, workers who are satisfied with their company’s efforts on these issues are more satisfied with their jobs overall – revealing that successfully navigating diversity is critical to both workforce recruitment and retention.

Employers who want to build equitable workplace cultures that meet employees’ expectations and needs must be attentive to each of these shifting dynamics. Check back next week for RALIANCE’s perspective on another key stakeholder group employers need to be thinking about as they pursue culture change: investors.  

RALIANCE provides consulting, assessment, and employee development services to help build more equitable workplace cultures and create environments free from sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse. We stand ready to support your organization’s goals – contact us today at [email protected] to get started.

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