In recent years we have seen continuous shifts in how work is done, what employees expect, and what employers need to offer in order to attract, engage, and retain top talent. We at Gift Better Co. are a little obsessed with employee engagement and are constantly doing deep dives to better understand how our clients can better support their teams. Here are the biggest things that employees expect from their employers, according to leading reports.


In the 2023 Future of Working and Learning Report conducted by Executive Networks Global Research, both knowledge and frontline workers identified flexibility in working hours and location as important in the workplace. Additionally, findings in a Gartner survey indicated that an increase in flexibility can also lead to an increase in employees sense of feeling connected to their organizational culture. What does this mean for employers? Flexibility needs to come from the top-down, with leaders committing to meeting employees where they’re at as often as possible.

Culture and Connection

The same Gartner survey revealed that 76% of employees identify culture as being very or extremely important for them to be effective at their job. With many organizations transitioning to remote or hybrid work, maintaining a feeling of connectedness to the culture is crucial for employee engagement and productivity. Integrating culture into the work itself, and ensuring employees feel valued, and recognized are key ways to help employees feel connected in these new work models. 

Intentionally creating a culture of appreciation can foster an environment where employees feel connected to their teams and motivated in their roles. Try some of these unique ways to show appreciation for your employees to make sure that your team feels valued. 

Stances on Social Issues

The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that by an average of five-to-one margin, respondents want business to play a larger role in social issues such as climate change, economic inequality, workforce reskilling and racial injustice. 6 in 10 employees say they choose a workplace based on shared values. While speaking out on social issues can feel daunting, putting action behind your values is important to show that your organization actually cares. 

Being intentional about the vendors and partners that you choose to work with is one step that you can take toward being a more socially responsible organization. Making it a company priority to partner often with companies that give back, for example, is an easy way to amplify your social impact without taking on much more work. 

Mental Health Support

Supporting the mental health of your employees is supporting their overall health. A recent Surgeon General report on mental health and well-being reports that 81% of workers will be looking for workplaces that support mental health in the future. Although benefits can be expensive for small businesses, leaders are encouraged to consider creative ways to support the mental health and wellness of their teams. For tips on how to foster a supportive and positive work environment, the American Psychological Association has created a list of 5 ways to improve employee mental health.

Room (and tools) to grow 

Employees want to know that you are invested in their personal and professional success. Check in with them regularly (our CEO Olivia Villalta recommends quarterly) to give them space to open up about their goals, and work together to come up with a strategy to accomplish them. Aside from personal check-ins from management, empowering employees with opportunities to acquire new skills and expand their existing skills can be mutually beneficial for companies and their employees.

Team-building retreats, such as those hosted by Unicorn Labs, are an excellent way to give your employees a chance to connect with one another, improve employee engagement, and build skills that enhance performance. Learn more about the benefits of a team-building retreat here.

What are you doing to adapt to these evolving employee expectations?

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