The Power of People: Human-centric Workplace [2023 Report]
Employees are increasingly like consumers. They need solid reasons to come to the office and consume their daily duties.
Like consumers appreciate perks such as loyalty programs, discounts, and attractive store designs, employees also have their own needs. For them, feeling valued, receiving benefits, maintaining a healthy work-life balance, working in an enjoyable environment, and having empathetic leaders are imperative.
Employees have higher expectations for the quality of their work experience, just like consumers have higher expectations for the quality of products and services. They need more than just job security and a paycheck.
That's when the human-centric approach steps in and goes beyond traditional concepts of employee satisfaction and engagement.
Gone are the days when workers were seen as just cogs, a means to an end, a disposable resource that could be easily replaced when no longer needed.
Today, more and more businesses boast about going on a human-centric path.
But are they genuinely doing so?
To uncover the truth, we surveyed 1,000 workers and examined:
- Leadership methods
- Salary and pay transparency
- Employee benefits
- Work arrangements
- Workplace design and amenities
The outcome answered whether organizations apply a human-centric approach to their daily work reality.
- 93% of respondents think their managers have a human-centric approach to employees.
- 89% claim that their organizations are transparent about salary and compensation policies.
- 92% are convinced their organizations provide adequate resources and support for employees to maintain good mental health.
- For 75%, benefits are an important or very important factor in staying with their current employer.
- More than 1 in 4 respondents (27%) have no control or flexibility to adjust their work schedule.
- Only 40% of respondents are allowed to take frequent breaks to rest their eyes, stretch and move around.
But there's more.
Welcome to a deep dive into the world of human-centric approaches in the workplace.
Leadership is not about being in charge. It is about taking care of those in your charge.
– Simon Sinek, author and inspirational speaker
Leadership is a magical force that can transform an organization from average to exceptional. But it takes a special kind of leadership – a human-centric one – for people and businesses to thrive. This is not about micromanagement or barking orders. It's about creating an environment that empowers employees to take ownership of their work, supported by a leader who inspires and guides them with empathy, vision, and an understanding of human nature.
And with that in mind, we asked our respondents a few questions.
We started by exploring some managers' characteristics and people's opinions on their leadership methods.
- 94% of respondents have managers that make them feel their work is valued and important.
- 91% believe their managers are empathetic.
- 91% know their managers care about their well-being.
- 89% think their managers are supportive.
- 83% would share a personal problem with their managers.
Empathetic and supportive management that cares about people's well-being and proves their work is valued is the textbook definition of "How to be a perfect manager."
But it's more than just theory.
We also asked, "In what practical ways does your manager demonstrate support or care for your well-being?". Respondents were allowed to select from a list of options.
As a result, we discovered practical examples of how leaders support the emotional wellness of their team members. The numbers shown represent the percentage of people who agreed with the given statement.
- Creating a safe and inclusive work environment – 46%
- Building personal connections – 44%
- Showing flexibility with work schedules or workload – 43%
- Offering help with personal and professional problems – 42%
- Recognizing and celebrating team members' successes – 42%
- Advocating for work-life balance and promoting a healthy work culture – 40%
Such initiatives benefit employees and employers alike. By prioritizing well-being, managers create a more engaged, productive, and committed workforce.
Our initial questions established that 89% of managers support employees' well-being and mental health. However, when research participants were asked to provide examples of such support in practice, they weren't entirely convinced of their managers' proactivity.
Our research showed that more than 1 in 3 respondents (36%) complain that their leaders don't provide any of the methods of support listed above.
We also examined the level of support workers get from their managers to achieve their professional goals. Our findings were as follows.
- Extremely supportive – 13%
- Very supportive – 50%
- Moderately supportive – 26%
- Slightly supportive – 11%
- Not supportive – 1%
So only 63% of employees enjoy relatively strong and proactive support.
But support can be both proactive and reactive. So how do managers react when people bring up concerns or issues they're experiencing at work? We asked respondents which of the following options best described their manager's reaction.
- Actively listen and offer support – 37%
- Take action to address the issue in a timely manner – 24%
- Get defensive or dismissive – 16%
- Try to brush it off or minimize the issue – 15%
- Do not respond at all or ignore the concern – 8%
So 61% of respondents get positive reactions. It is encouraging that many managers actively listen, offer support, or take action when employees bring concerns or problems to their attention. This is a crucial step in creating a culture of open communication where employees feel heard and valued.
However, 39% of employees deal with negative attitudes from managers who get defensive or dismissive, try to brush off or minimize issues, or ignore concerns.
Beyond the previously mentioned findings, the respondents also offered further insights and opinions about their managers that are worth exploring. The figures presented show the percentage of people who agreed with each statement.
- My manager has a "people-first" approach – 77%
- My manager actively listens and shows genuine interest in my concerns – 76%
- My manager is flexible and understanding when I need to balance my work and personal life – 74%
- My manager fosters open communication – 74%
- My manager gives employees room to fail – 64%
Who doesn't believe their managers take a human-centric approach?
- 5% of women vs. 9% of men.
- 3% of Democrats vs. 14% of Republicans
- 4% of master's degree holders vs. 12% of people with no degree
- 3% of workers earning $75,000 and more vs. 14% of those earning $25,000–49,999
Still, these people are in the minority.
Next, we'll examine salary and pay transparency in human-centric workplaces.
Salary & pay transparency
Pay transparency is essential in creating a human-centric workplace. When employees clearly understand how their compensation is determined and know they are being paid fairly, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated. In a human-centric workplace, pay transparency ensures employees are paid what they are worth and promotes a culture of trust, openness, and collaboration.
People are satisfied with their remuneration for work. At least the majority of them.
- 13% are very satisfied with their salary.
- 59% are satisfied.
So 72% of workers are satisfied with their salary.
- 24% are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.
- While 3% are very dissatisfied or dissatisfied.
But the good news continues.
- 91% of respondents believe they're fairly paid compared to others in the same job roles.
- 90% say that their companies provide salary ranges in job postings.
- 89% claim that their organizations are transparent about salary and compensation policies.
- 88% know how much their co-workers earn.
At the same time, 70% feel very comfortable or comfortable negotiating their salary or compensation package with their employer.
25% share neutral feelings toward such conversation, while only 5% experience negative emotions.
This suggests a growing awareness of the importance of fair compensation and a willingness to communicate openly and honestly with employers. It's also positive to note that a relatively small percentage of employees experience negative emotions during these conversations, which could indicate that employers are becoming more receptive to discussing pay and compensation transparently and fairly.
Another sign of the majority of organizations adopting a human-centric approach. What's the next one?
A healthy workplace culture is essential to a human-centric organization. The focus is also on the well-being of the employees who drive the business forward, not just the bottom line. Employee well-being encompasses physical, emotional, and social health, job satisfaction, and fulfillment. Are workers getting this support from their employers?
- 16% say they're fully supported.
- 48% feel somewhat supported by their employers in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Therefore, 64% believe their organization makes at least some effort to support employee well-being.
1 in 3 respondents (32%) had neutral feelings, and only 5% of respondents felt not supported at all or somewhat unsupported.
Employee well-being has to be ingrained in organizational culture to be managed effectively. When we asked respondents what level of priority their workplaces place on well-being and mental health, they answered:
- Very High – 16%
- High – 30%
- Medium – 38%
- Low – 15%
- Very low – 1%
This data is concerning, as only 46% of respondents acknowledge that employee well-being is a significant part of their workplace culture and values. So, there's room for improvement, and organizations must up their game in prioritizing employee well-being and mental health.
We also asked what the employer's approach to employees' well-being looks like in reality.
Respondents were presented with four options and asked to choose which scenario best applied to them. The figures you see represent the percentage of people who chose each option.
- My employer claims to support employee well-being in its policies and actually follows through with these claims – 33%
- My employer claims to support employee well-being in its policies but doesn't do so in reality – 25%
- My employer doesn't claim to support employee well-being in its policies, but in reality, it does support its employees – 21%
- My employer doesn't claim to support employee well-being in its policies and doesn't do so in reality– 20%
The worst scenario? An employer who claims to support employee well-being but doesn't do so in reality. And that's something as many as 1 in 4 respondents face.
What results from employers ignoring their employees' mental health and well-being? Burnout.
So, how often do people feel stressed or burnt out from work?
- Almost always – 9%
- Often – 20%
- Sometimes – 49%
- Rarely – 17%
- Never – 4%
But on a positive note. 90% believe their employers take steps to prevent and address burnout.
Moreover, 92% are convinced their organizations provide adequate resources and support for employees to maintain good mental health.
And what are those resources? Our respondents most often mentioned:
- Healthy food options or on-site gym facilities – 50%
- Mental health awareness training or resources – 47%
- Wellness programs (e.g., yoga classes, meditation sessions) – 45%
- Regular check-ins with managers or HR to discuss well-being and mental health – 42%
- Time off or vacation policies that encourage work-life balance – 42%
It's worth noting that employers usually offer more than one benefit from the above list.
Overall, we ended up with 66% of workers satisfied or very satisfied with the wellness packages offered by their organization.
So who's most dissatisfied?
- 12% of people with no degree vs. 2% of bachelor's degree holders
- 13% of workers earning less than $25,000 vs. 3% of those earning from $50,000 to $75,000 and greater.
We're done with well-being. Let's move to another essential component of a human-centric workplace.
Today's employees want more than just a paycheck. Human-centric workplaces recognize the importance of providing comprehensive benefits packages. That means more than just health insurance and retirement plans. These organizations understand employees' unique needs and prioritize benefits that promote work-life balance, personal and professional growth, and overall well-being.
And according to our findings:
What do employers most often offer?
- Flexible work arrangements – 42%
- Health insurance – 42%
- Bonuses or other financial rewards – 41%
- Work-from-home options – 38%
- Educational and training opportunities – 36%
- Professional development programs – 35%
- Retirement plans – 34%
- On-site amenities (e.g., gym, cafeteria, massage chairs) – 27%
- Paid time off – 26%
But, at the same time, 6% say that their organizations don't offer any employee benefits.
Focusing on the professional development of staff is an essential part of being a human-centric organization. And there's good news here too.
92% say their organization invests in the professional development of its employees.
This is great news indeed because investing in individuals' growth helps ensure the business's growth and success.
Employers take notes, what comes next is crucial.
- For 70% of workers, benefits offered by employers are important or very important to overall job satisfaction.
- For 70% of respondents, the benefits package offered was important or very important in deciding to join their organization in the first place.
- Moreover, for 75% of survey takers, benefits are essential in deciding whether to stay with their current employer.
So employee benefits are key to ensuring job satisfaction and retention. The fact that most respondents consider benefits essential to overall job satisfaction and even as a vital factor in joining and staying with an organization underscores the need for employers to prioritize perks. And one element of benefit packages (and a human-centric workplace) are flexible work arrangements.
How people work or want to work is very unique and personal to them.
– Jennifer Jones Newbill, Director, Global Employment Brand at Dell Technologies
Work arrangements have evolved beyond the traditional 9-to-5 office setting. In human-centric workplaces, work arrangements are not just a matter of convenience but a decisive factor in promoting employee well-being, productivity, and job satisfaction. From flexible schedules to remote work and beyond, these arrangements recognize the importance of providing employees with the freedom to work in a way that fits their needs and lifestyles.
So the question is, do employers implement this human-centric workplace element?
- 93% of respondents are allowed to work remotely at least some of the time.
- 89% have flexible work arrangements.
These statistics are a positive sign of the development of human-centric workplaces, allowing employees to better balance their personal and professional lives. It also proves that employers finally recognize the importance of offering flexibility to attract and retain talent in an increasingly competitive job market.
But how much flexibility do employees really have?
We covered that within our research too. Respondents were asked, "How much flexibility do you have in determining your work schedule?" and were provided with four options to choose from. The numbers shown represent the percentage of people who selected the given statement.
Here's what they told us.
- My supervisor or team sets my work schedule, but there is some flexibility to make minor adjustments – 31%
- My supervisor or team completely determines my work schedule, and I have no flexibility to adjust my hours – 27%
- I have some control over my work schedule and can adjust my hours within certain limits – 23%
- I have complete control over my work schedule and can set my hours – 19%
Only 19% of respondents have complete control over their work schedule. This suggests that although many organizations offer flexible work options, there may still be a lack of trust or willingness to allow employees full autonomy over their work schedule.
Flexibility can't be ignored.
That's because working schedules tailored to individual needs and preferences create a human-centric workplace.
On the other hand:
- 93% say their work arrangements support their well-being and work-life balance.
- 91% claim their work arrangements allow them to reach their full professional and personal potential.
So even without full flexibility in their schedule, the majority of employees feel supported and fulfilled by their work arrangements.
But a human-centric approach isn't just about how you work, it's about where you work.
A human-centric workplace is also about the physical environment people work in. Worker-oriented employers invest in creating a workspace that is comfortable, functional, and fosters creativity and collaboration. The design of the workspace, the available amenities, and the level of comfort provided become key factors in determining employee satisfaction and productivity.
And this is the last aspect we examined in our research. So let's take a look.
We asked survey participants to rate the equipment and design of their offices, as well as the overall comfort of their workspace.
- 92% of respondents enjoy standard workplace amenities like a kitchen, coffee machine, or ergonomic furniture.
- But some employers go beyond. 85% of respondents enjoy additional workplace amenities like a relaxation room, lounge, or gym.
We also explored how employers respond to concerns or complaints about uncomfortable or unsafe work conditions. Do they get defensive as they think employees expect too much or willingly respond to suggestions?
- 27% say their employers react very positively, with quick actions being taken to ensure safety and comfort.
- 58% point out somewhat positive reactions, where the employer usually responds, but changes take longer than ideal.
- 10% of employers react negatively and don't take concerns seriously, with issues remaining unresolved.
- Additionally, 5% of respondents haven't had any concerns or complaints about work conditions.
Taking short breaks is another vital part of the workspace culture. It allows employees to step away from work and recharge, increasing their productivity, creativity, and overall well-being. Breaks also help reduce stress, fatigue, and burnout, common issues in high-stress work environments.
But how frequently do employers actually allow workers to take breaks throughout the workday to rest their eyes, stretch, or move around? Below you will find the percentage distribution of the responses given by the respondents.
- Very frequently (multiple times per hour) – 13%
- Fairly frequently (once or twice per hour) – 27%
- Occasionally (once or twice per half-day) – 37%
- Rarely (once or twice per day) – 19%
- Almost never (never or only on rare occasions) – 3%
Only 40% of employers allow frequent breaks. Some might think that breaks could negatively affect work performance or lead to less work being completed. However, this is not true, and in fact, taking breaks can actually improve work productivity.
Breaks have been shown to positively impact employee productivity, well-being, and job satisfaction. Thus, it is worth discussing whether employers should allow more frequent breaks to benefit their employees and, as a result, improve the overall performance of their business. Frequency of breaks aside, how satisfied are workers with their overall working conditions?
- Very satisfied – 16%
- Satisfied – 54%
- Neutral – 26%
- Very dissatisfied or dissatisfied – 4%
It's great news that 70% of workers in total are satisfied with their working conditions. But that still leaves around a third feeling neutral or dissatisfied, so there's room for improvement.
Let's wrap up with this question: Do human-centric workplaces genuinely exist, or are they just myths?
According to our findings, human-centric workplaces do exist. A significant percentage of workers are satisfied with their overall working conditions, covering various aspects such as leadership, remuneration, well-being, employee benefits, work arrangements, or the design of workspaces.
And, to add to the positive outlook, we have some intriguing takeaways.
- 93% of respondents believe that their organization has a human-centric approach in general.
- 89% say that their organization's values align with their personal value.
- 90% declare that their organizations have a human-centric approach regarding work arrangements.
- 89% of respondents report a human-centric approach of their employers regarding benefits.
While not all companies have fully embraced this approach, there is a growing recognition that prioritizing employee well-being, development, and satisfaction leads to better business outcomes. While there is still room for improvement, the evidence suggests that human-centric workplaces are not just a myth but a growing reality.
The above-presented findings were obtained by surveying 951 respondents online via a bespoke polling tool. They were asked questions about various aspects of their work reality that reflect the idea of a human-centric approach to workers. These included yes/no questions, scale-based questions relating to levels of agreement with a statement, questions that permitted the selection of multiple options from a list of potential answers, and a question that allowed open responses. All respondents included in the study passed an attention-check question.
The data presented relies on self-reports from a randomized group of respondents. Each person who took our survey read and responded to each question without any research administration or interference. There are many potential issues with self-reported data like selective memory, exaggeration, attribution, or telescoping. Some questions and responses have been rephrased or condensed for clarity and ease of understanding for readers.
Fair Use Statement
Want to share the findings of our research? Go ahead. Feel free to use our images and information wherever you wish. Just link back to this page, please—it will let other readers get deeper into the topic. Additionally, remember to use this content exclusively for non-commercial purposes.
- American Institute of Stress, "Workplace Stress"
- Bibby, A., "5 Employers' Awesome Quotes About Work Flexibility: FlexJobs 10th"
- Fast Company Executive Board, "7 Qualities Of The Human-Centric Workplace For Innovative Leaders"
- Gartner, "Gartner Research Shows Human-Centric Work Models Boosts Employee Performance and Other Key Talent Outcomes"
- NTT Data, "The Human-Centric Employer: Three Keys to Unlock Unprecedented Value"
- Shein, E., "Gartner: Human-Centric Work Drives Greater Productivity, Retention And Health Benefits"
- Percy, S., "What's So Great About Pay Transparency?"
- Vittalrao, R., "Top 4 Ways to Maintain a Human-Centric Workplace in 2023"
- World Health Organization, "Mental Health and Substance Use"