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The science behind why your employees need more

As we move into 2023, we continue to experience historic levels of change and instability. 

At a macro level we’re contending with the cost-of-living crisis, a global recession, political and social unrest, energy poverty, security and sustainability... And that’s before we even get to climate change.

This impacts us all, at work and outside of it. Organisations are facing up to the fact that they need to adapt and transform. They’re under mounting pressure to place greater focus on operating more sustainably, being purpose driven, facilitating hybrid working, managing employees’ health & wellbeing and more. All this calls for a new leadership style, placing pressure not only on businesses to transform, but leaders too.

Put simply, there’s a lot to think about.

With so much instability, it’s no surprise that anxiety levels are at an all-time high and employees want more from their employers.

So what do employees want?

If you’re a Gen Z, you’re looking at your workplace to provide a community, a culture where you’re made to feel like you belong and a sense of purpose.​ On top of that, Gen Zers expect flexibility and a good work life balance.​

Expectations are high. Neuroscience can help explain WHY, and why these expectations aren’t just wants, but needs. ​

Let’s look at the science behind how we think

Our brains process information in two ways – via System 1 or System 2 thinking. System 1 is fast, instinctive, and emotionally driven. ​System 2 is slow, considered and rationally driven.​ Most of the time we default to System 1 as this comes naturally to us and requires less effort. ​

But, when we’re faced with ongoing change, like the world we live in today, our System 2 works in overdrive. That takes a lot of energy. ​Ultimately causing change fatigue, which in today’s ever-changing world is becoming the norm.​

So how do we use this science to our advantage?

Well, if employees want purpose, community, and a sense of belonging from their workplace, understanding how the brain processes information and responds to change can help us better answer their wants and needs. ​

When we’re faced with on-going change, and our brains don’t get the rest and recovery time or support they need, it puts us into a state of high alert and threat. The result? High levels of cortisol in our bodies make us feel stressed and unhappy. ​

However, when we feel like we belong, we release less cortisol, and our built-in resilience is much stronger. An environment of belonging cultivates a culture of collaboration and innovation - desirable behaviours for any business.

So as an employer, if you can connect with an employee’s System 1 and make them feel safe and secure, you’re far more likely to evoke feelings of trust and loyalty. Crucial components for a positive employee experience, and the foundation for creating the culture needed to evolve and transform ready to face the future.  

If you’d like to talk more about your employee experience, get in touch today -


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