The Rise of Individualism at Work

Mercer PeoplePro Blog Individualism at Work

The Rise of Individualism at Work

The Rise of Individualism at Work, was originally posted on LinkedIn by Dr. Katherine Jones, Mercer Partner and Director of Talent Research.

We often talk about the “employee” as a collective concept, created by cookie cutters or rolling down a manufacturing conveyor belt. Employees are a group, divided, if at all, as white collar or blue, by divisions, departments, or titles. But even though it may be easy to think of employees as a collective, each is an individual, and each seeks to be regarded and respected for that individuality.


Individualism at Work

The 5400+ employee respondents in Mercer’s Global Talent Trends report sought recognition for their unique skills. Employees who felt they came to work energized report that their companies did indeed recognize their particular interests and skills and try to use that information in their placement into their jobs. Disenfranchised employees, on the other hand, did not feel their companies recognized their individual talents nor try to use them in job matching.


More than a quarter expect their organizations to become more reliant on their personal contributions within the next two years and more than half of all employees responding sought a new look at rewards for their individual efforts – rather than solely a salary for work accomplished, they wanted to be recognized and rewarded on a range of the different types of unique contributions they feel they make to their organizations.


And they are different: they have different learning styles, and according to Susan Cain, who keynoted at GloboForce’s June 2017 WorkHuman conference, employees—and people in general– can be different in terms of how they derive their energy. This author of QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking looks at introverts and extroverts as very different in what best motivates them and how managers and HR can capitalize on their uniqueness at work.   Some people work best with thoughtful quietness at work, and may do their best work alone – according to Cain, one third of people are these introverted types. Extroverts derive their energy from groups and more collaborative stimulation. The workplace has both—and needs both. Cain points out the tendency of organizations have to reward the more boisterous, “in your face” extroverts—when in fact, the very important contributions of the more contemplative thinkers are core to organizational success.


Today’s employees do not want to be treated solely as members of a group. They want to be ”seen” at work, respected for their individuality and diversity, and rewarded for the unique contributions they make to their organizations as a whole. The implications for HR are significant, as re-evaluation of learning and development, benefit and reward structures, and working environments is needed to optimize the value and productivity of each individual employee.

For more information about Individualism at Work and what 7,000 executives, HR professionals, and employees say about the world of work, click here for your free copy of Mercer’s 2017 Global Talent Trends report Empowerment in a Disruptive World.


Mercer PeoplePro Blog Individualism at Work

Dr. Katherine Jones, Mercer Partner and Director of Talent Research

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