Employee attitudes are changing, and that could bring opportunity for startups and SMEs

Atlassian Dom Price

Atlassian's resident tech futurist Dom Price.

Employees are thinking differently about their employers, and demanding more from them. In a world where talent is scarce, that could pose an opportunity for small businesses and startups.

A recent survey from Atlassian showed that workers are increasingly putting their mental wellbeing ahead of their career progression, with 69% saying they would consider turning down a promotion in order to preserve their mental health.

They’re also placing more importance on values, with 37% saying they would consider resigning if their employer acted in a way that was not aligned with their values. That’s six percentage points up on the same time last year.

In an interview with SmartCompany Plus, Atlassian work futurist Dom Price noted that small businesses could have something of an advantage here — if they play their cards right.

Increasingly, employees want to work within organisations where they can “have impact and meaning”, Price said.

SMEs and startups “can give that in spades”.

We’re in the midst of a talent drought that is being particularly hard felt in the tech sector.

Yet at the same time, we could see disenchanted employees out looking for new opportunities, particularly within smaller enterprises that are often more value-driven or intimate, offering a more personalised workplace experience.

“That builds those relationships and bonds. That’s what people are craving.”

Of course, that also means the way to attract the best talent is to foster a strong workplace culture, becoming a business people want to join, and stay at.

But again, small businesses are arguably on the front foot here, for the very virtue of being small.

In a big enterprise, cultural change is difficult and time-consuming, Price explained. For SMEs and startups, it’s much easier to pivot, to experiment and to get feedback on what your teams actually want and need.

Invest in the employees you already have, Price advised. But, importantly, ask them what kind of investment they want first.

“Actually engaging with your people and listening to them properly can have a huge impact.”

For tips on how to actually do that, read the full interview with Dom Price in SmartCompany Plus here.

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