Kathryn Minshew: On Redefining Workplace Culture

  • Meg Vandervort
  • January 10, 2022

At Groundswell, we’re fortunate to know many people who support our mission to reimagine corporate giving. Whenever possible, we love to sit down and talk with these people. It was a pleasure to sit down with Kathryn Minshew, Founder and CEO of The Muse, which is dedicated to defining the future of work. Kathryn believes deeply in diversity and listening to what employees want. She believes employers must consider their employees’ choices, values, and priorities if they are to thrive in the current workplace environment.

Hey Kathryn! Great to chat. Let’s dive right in. What are your thoughts on what’s happening with the Great Resignation? 

I believe we are witnessing a sea change in the connection between talent and employers. Many people, I believe, were compelled to reconsider their life choices, values, and priorities as a result of the pandemic. And they are now making changes based on a decision that they want to do things differently. We talk a lot about values-based careers at The Muse. And I believe there is a significant growth in the number of people who think about their work and professions in this manner.

Businesses, I believe, are beginning to see that they must do more to recruit and keep the greatest employees. People want a values-based career. 

I believe we are also witnessing an increase in personalization. We’re seeing an increase in the personalization of the workplace. We no longer all watch the same TV channels or listen to the same radio stations. In fact, many of us receive customized media suggestions or information streams depending on our interests. We’re seeing the death of the one-size-fits-all workplace. Companies now need to respect the individual needs of every employee.

“The death of the one-size-fits-all workplace.” I love that.

Right? People are becoming very clear about the type of workplace they want to work in. 

Companies are beginning to recognize that, rather than catering to everyone in a large, generic fashion, they are most successful at recruiting and retaining individuals when they understand the personalized benefits they can offer. 

How can they be really strong on specific offerings, which might include anything from training and development to learning, generosity, and a dedication to a bigger purpose and mission?

It could be a certain business culture or the way work is completed. It could be prestige, salary, and so on. Many of these aspects will have to be considered by every business. However, it is improbable that any single organization will be able to score a perfect 10 in every single category. As a result, firms must now select where they want to compete. How do they make themselves look the most appealing? And they’re being compelled to be much more receptive to candidates, which I believe is a good thing.

So, to answer your question about whether there is a positive outcome: 

I believe that when employees feel engaged and respected by the organizations for which they work, they are more productive, better retained, and have higher life satisfaction – which makes them better partners, friends, parents, spouses, and so on. 

So I believe we all stand to benefit in the medium to long run. But, in the short run, we’ll see a lot of upheaval. And it’s quite difficult for businesses to know how to respond right now.

Sounds like you believe it’s crucial for leaders at companies, from an analytics perspective, to gain insight into employee opinion about social issues? 

I do, certainly. In recent years, Generation Z has been the most socially active generation. 

Unlike past generations, many members of Generation Z look to their organizations to promote or represent the type of world they want to live in, as well as the values that they hold dear. So knowing what their employees care about, what values they hold – this is extremely important for companies.

What do you view as the differing values for each generation – Gen Z, Millennials, and Boomers?

For starters, the variety and diversity of individuals within a given generation is far greater than the hard and fast contrasts across generations. By no means do I believe that all members of a generation are the same. 

However, I believe that earlier career workers have spent more of their lives in a cultural setting where the products they consume are customized to their individual tastes, preferences, and needs, leading them to expect the same from the workplace.

More seasoned workers grew up in a completely different work environment, as well as a very distinct cultural, technological, and immediate environment.

The younger generations have grown up at a time when consumer products have a significant focus on ease of use, and are hyper personalized. Individuals who are accustomed to these products and services are bound to have different expectations in the job market.

Also, I believe that the connection between businesses and politics shifted during the Trump era. A growing number of people of all ages want to work in increasingly diverse surroundings. We’re seeing an increase in this across the board. 

I also believe that wanting to work for a company that respects you is not confined to any demographic. However, some of the most vocal supporters are early-career professionals. And I believe we’ve never been in an environment where the battle for talent has been so fierce. When there is a lot of rivalry for something, that thing gets to dictate a lot of the terms of the relationship. That’s happening right now with talent. And we’re just getting started; in fact, I believe most businesses can expect another large wave of resignations in early 2021. Unfortunately, managing teams for continuity is quite difficult right now. But I think it’s very evident that’s what’s going to happen.

  • Meg Vandervort
  • January 10, 2022