These Three People & Culture Investments Will Be Critical to your Future Workplace

This is a modified excerpt from Ignite’s recent white paper on the Future of Work.

A significant shift is transforming today's corporate landscape. The gig economy and technological advances are reshaping the workplace in ways that have significant ramifications for human capital and talent management. Flexible independent work provides increasingly attractive and viable career options for millennials and Gen Z, while artificial intelligence and automation are replacing job functions and requiring a fresh look at leadership training. The result of these trends is an even tighter labor market with new demands for developing and retaining top talent. The companies that embrace and proactively respond to this emerging reality will have the competitive advantage as they execute on strategies that will enable them to win the talent war, enhance employee productivity and elevate brand equity.

Here at Ignite, we’ve had the privilege to speak with hundreds of leaders at companies of all sizes about the growing complexity of today’s workplace. Our research identified three priority investments in people and culture that business leaders will need to make in order to thrive.

1. Purposeful Work

The gig economy has dramatically changed today’s workplace, creating desirable alternatives to traditional corporate careers. In growing numbers, talented professionals are choosing to be independent contractors, giving them the flexibility and autonomy to pursue more purposeful work, and leaving companies scrambling to attract and retain the workforce they need. With talent supply limited and demand at an all-time high, companies have to respond to these empowered workers by providing more of what they want in their careers: purpose and impact. This is especially true for millennials who, according to Zogby Analytics, are disproportionately (85%) looking for work that is enriching for themselves and the world. As LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman states, “companies that understand the increasing emphasis of purpose in today’s professional landscape improve their ability to attract such employees and also their ability to retain them for longer periods of time.”

The demands of creating purpose and offering impact may, at first, seem daunting. Especially for companies whose core business is not inherently associated with some type of environmental, economic or social impact. However, offering purposeful work does not require creating or selling products and services that “save the world.” Employees experience purpose at work in a number of ways, including autonomy, influence and recognition, and it is enhanced by a demonstrated commitment to social responsibility. Ultimately, people experience purpose at work as they do in other areas of life: through opportunities for growth and meaningful relationships - both core to our next two findings.   

2. Innovative Development

To successfully recruit and retain today’s top talent, companies must invest in the potential of their employees, even more so given the implications of technological advances and the gig economy. With automation replacing many technical tasks, employee responsibilities are increasingly related to people interaction and teamwork. This has prioritized the need for soft skills, as corporate leaders at every level have indicated. Additionally, in this competitive labor market, companies have a significant advantage when they offer robust training and development as part of a full-time job. According to Glassdoor’s Employment Confidence Survey, nearly 7 in 10 employees indicate that training and development is the most important workplace initiative, while a recent survey from LinkedIn found that 94% of employees said they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development. What can’t be overlooked, however, is that the approach to these programs matter.

Thoughtfully designed development experiences can provide the opportunity for human connection, inclusion, and the cultivation of critical skills. This approach not only allows your employees to reach their potential, it leads to increased engagement and can help create a culture of collaboration.

3. Enhanced Collaboration

As automation and digital technologies permeate the business world, virtual work environments  are becoming more common, making it increasingly difficult for teams to foster the trust, inclusion and teamwork needed for optimal productivity. A study conducted by Ferrazzi Greenlight states that 79% of workers regularly work in dispersed teams. The new world of collaboration is filled with Slack messages, shared screens and Google docs, and very rarely involves the interactions needed to develop the cultural competencies and emotional intelligence for strong leaders and teams. And because these relentless virtual channels operate 24/7, employees are “plugged in” longer than ever, resulting in higher stress levels, increased isolation and more loneliness.  

While this advancing technology has improved worker efficiency and capabilities in some areas, it has also escalated the need for companies to prioritize face-to-face collaboration and promote a culture of inclusion. The results of doing so can be significant: increased productivity, stronger financial returns, and an enhanced ability to innovate and attract top talent. Moving beyond ping-pong tables and happy hours and providing opportunities for employees to stretch beyond their comfort zone and build relationships outside the office is more critical than ever.

Technological advancement and the gig economy often dominate the conversation about the future of work, yet this doesn’t paint the whole picture. As Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Study correctly points out, we are entering the Human Age, where employees are looking to be viewed not as assets or capital, but as people. In order to unlock growth and unique competitive advantage, companies must provide purposeful work, innovative development and cultivate a collaborative culture. The companies that do will thrive.



Study on Purpose:

Global Purpose Index - The Largest Global Study on the Role of Purpose in the Workforce

“Companies that understand the increasing emphasis of purpose in today’s professional landscape improve their ability to attract such employees and also their ability to retain them for longer periods of time.”6 Reid Hoffman Executive Chairman and co-founder LinkedIn

From Deloitte Study


Study on Trust & Connection:

Neuroscience of Trust - HBR

Business Case for Trust

Trust & Workplace performance - scientific research

From Deloitte Study below:

Study on Recognition

Deloitte 2018 Global Human Capital Trends

Studies on Leadership Development

Future Trends in Leadership Development by Center for Creative Leadership

-Some really good stuff in here we could use (page 6):

  • Transfer development to individual

  • horizontal vs. vertical

  • Collective rather than individual leadership

  • Focus on innovation

Side bar on crescive bonds

An international group of researchers led by Purdue University Xinran Lehto concluded that vacations contribute positively to bonding, communication and solidarity. Vacations promote what is called the "crescive bond" (in sociological parlance, a "shared experience") by fostering growing and enduring connections. Vital shared experiences and time spent together isolated from ordinary everyday activities help to promote these positive ties. Research has found that after taking a vacation employees are less tense and stressed and more likely to have better concentrations of energy. Fostering crescive bonds between employees and teams across the company is also a powerful way to create and grow relationships, trust, and appreciation - all of which have significant benefits for your company.

For the first section:

Recent studies and insights show that a big piece of the puzzle to unleash employee potential lies in providing what they are already asking for - experiences. In particular, travel experiences are ranked as the number one reward employees wish to receive from their company by 83% of Millennials. Just because your employees are years removed from college study abroad programs does not mean they are finished exploring the world. By capitalizing on the science which links immersive travel experiences to happiness and productivity, leaders across the C-Suite and human resource departments can unlock the untapped potential of their employees.

By integrating immersive travel into your employee experience, your company can benefit from increased loyalty, productivity, and talent attraction.


Nearly all employers indicate that improving retention is a critical priority. 72% of employee travelers reported an increased feeling of loyalty toward the company that provided travel incentives.


Happier individuals have approximately 12% greater productivity according to three different experiments. Individuals in this study ranked social experiences like travel as the best way to improve their happiness.


Up to one-third of all working professionals accepted their job entirely or in part because of the business travel opportunities it offered. Nearly 50% of millennials would pursue a new job for more travel alone.

From the second section

Psychological parlance refers to the enduring connections formed through shared experiences as “crescive bonds.” Fostering crescive bonds between employees and teams across the company is a powerful way to create and grow relationships, trust, and appreciation - all of which have significant benefits for your company.

Employee travel can be an effective way to build crescive bonds between teams. In fact, in the workplace, the top motivational reason for employee travel is to connect and build relationships with colleagues. Not surprisingly, seven out of ten people feel that experiences have more deeply connected them to other people, the community, and the world. Further, 80% feel that immersive experiences have deepened their existing relationships.

Happiness attributed to immersive experiences is a result of the connections that are developed during these experiences. These connections often take the form of lasting relationships that are deeply impactful and personal - and they can emerge within a surprisingly short timeframe. Today’s world (and workplace) is fast-paced and stressful, leaving us little time and energy to devote to cultivating more than a few meaningful relationships. Immersive travel allows us to step out of our routines and naturally opens us up to deeper connections. Culturally immersive travel creates an environment that connects people and communities, and strengthens the existing bonds between friends, colleagues, and loved ones. Ultimately, these experiences and relationships renew the human spirit and help develop global citizens.

From the ending:

Instead of offering cash or physical products as an incentive or reward, consider providing travel. Encourage employees to take paid vacation time off. Better yet, make it required that every employee must take vacation throughout the year. Some 'top companies to work for' also go as far as to provide an annual travel stipend for employees to use at their discretion. At Google, when employees were provided experiential rewards over cash, they reported that "their awards were 28% more fun, 28% more memorable, and 15% more thoughtful."

When planning your next corporate outing or retreat, think outside the box. Ropes courses, conference ballrooms and typical strategy sessions don’t cut it anymore. Make it an experience that your employees cannot forget by integrating elements that will motivate and inspire - like local community engagement or an off-the-beaten-path adventure.

Here at Ignite, we have a decade of experience empowering companies to build a diverse and thriving culture. We do this purposeful journeys that combine cultural immersion, community engagement, and adventure to naturally develop stronger leaders and teams.

Sharon Ray, a Human Resource Consultant with a 25+ year career spanning both fortune 500 companies and small fast growing startups, believes that Ignite holds the key to unlocking the employee experience. "Shared experiences like the one I had in Mexico with Ignite will help companies build a diverse and thriving culture, engage and develop their people, and ultimately drive business outcomes including stronger financial returns, growth and brand equity."

At Ignite, we believe in the power of authentic human connection, the ability to inspire through new relationships, the importance of continued investment in personal and professional growth, and the cultivation of meaning and purpose. We understand the value immersive travel can provide to the employee experience, and we work tirelessly to ensure that our corporate partners realize those benefits. We are excited to offer a turn-key and cost-effective initiative which connects your employees to the global community. If you are interested in exploring what this might look like at your company, reach out to learn more.

As a leader in your company, you understand the importance of the employee experience. You spend countless hours thinking about how to best develop and engage your people in order to build a world-class organization. Despite all the resources that your company invests recruiting and retaining top talent, the fact remains that 87% of employees don’t feel engaged in the workplace. While your company may be performing better than the statistics, there is always room for improvement.

Holistic is a proud partner of Experience Ignite.

Read our interview with Founder & Co-CEO, Ryan Jeffery here.