Enhancing brand appeal, increasing consumer sales, and improving employee retention and engagement are among the top priorities for every business. New research on consumer trends reveals some fascinating insights and guidance. The good news for business leaders: there’s a common thread connecting all of these goals.
The research, 2022 State of U.S. Consumer Trends Report (which looks at trends for 2023) was released at the end last year by HubSpot and Brandwatch. It covers a wide range of topics, from social media and data privacy to crypto and the Metaverse.
But the most interesting sections are those on corporate social responsibility and workplace trends. They dive into the brand, sales, and employee engagement implications of corporate policies and practices.
What ties all of these areas together is team building. Here’s how, and what you can do as a business leader to more effectively attract and retain both employees and customers.
Key Findings from the Consumer Trends Report
Among the findings that stand out in the report are the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR), diversity and inclusion, and employee well-being—to both employees and consumers. Enterprises that prioritize these efforts will be best positioned to both grow sales and retain a highly engaged workforce.
Corporate social responsibility matters to current and prospective employees. 65% of respondents in the HubSpot/Brandwatch study said it’s important to them to feel like they are making a positive impact through their work.
It also matters to consumers. Per the report: “What companies do for communities and causes is also hitting consumers’ radars. While 56% said companies should donate a portion of their profits to charity, 66% say they are more likely to purchase from a company that makes donations.”
One highly effective way to address both groups is through CSR team building activities. As noted here previously, CSR programs increase employee loyalty, enhance engagement, develop valuable collaboration and problem-solving skills, and create a powerful shared experience.
Publicizing CSR involvement shows consumers that your organization supports deserving community causes by investing in its people and donating the end items—whether those are wheelchairs or rollators for the mobility impaired, guitars or school supplies for kids, or canned food items for a local food shelf—to community organizations.
Similarly, policies promoting diversity and inclusion matter to both employees and customers. According to the report, 56% of workers say it’s important for their employer to have a diverse and inclusive culture, while 30% of consumers say they choose products based on the brand’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
As noted here previously, companies with diverse workforces tend to make better decisions and perform at a higher level than those with more homogenous teams—but “the key to unlocking the high-performance potential of diverse teams is skilled management.”
The skills to lead diverse teams and create an inclusive culture can be taught and learned through professional development programs such as our Developing Emerging Leaders series, DiSC Profile Workshop, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Training.
And for the employees being managed, any team building program will help build relationships, improve communication, and enhance collaboration among diverse work teams.
Of course, employees want to be treated well. Beyond pay and benefits, they are looking for trust, respect, and opportunities for advancement from their employers.
But as the research shows, treating employees well also matters to prospective customers. Per the report:
“The survey data also shows that consumers are paying attention to how companies treat their employees, and it plays a significant role in their buying decision. Seventy-two percent of those surveyed said that companies should actively try to improve the well-being of their employees, and 78% said that they’re more likely to buy from companies that treat employees well. So not only will focusing on a positive work experience benefit employees and retention, but it also makes a huge difference for customers.”
Again, as noted here previously, focusing on workplace relationships and employee well-being helps to build high-performing teams. The U.S. Surgeon General has created a framework for workplace mental health and well-being, and in introducing the framework, noted that “81% of workers reported that they will be looking for workplaces that support mental health in the future.”
Programs like our Emotional Intelligence Training and Conflict Resolution Training help both managers and employee team members more effectively manage emotions and disagreements, creating a mentally healthier workplace. CSR programs also contribute to employee well-being in addition to building skills and benefiting local communities.
Paying attention to workplace well-being is a great employee engagement practice as well as enhancing your brand image with consumers.
The Ongoing Shift to Hybrid Work Structures
The report also touched on how the change in work arrangements started in motion by COVID will have long-lasting impacts, stating that:
“Remote and hybrid work has not only become the norm, it’s now a requirement. Of those surveyed, 54% of remote or hybrid workers would consider leaving their role if their company made them return to the office five days a week. While 40% of respondents are in the office full time or nearly full time, 32% are in remote roles, and 28% are in hybrid roles.”
Forbes, among many other sources, has reported on the mismatch between employer and employee expectations around remote work. While 50% of business leaders want workers back in the office full time, only 12% of employees say they’d be happy with that arrangement. 87% want the flexibility to work remotely at least part of the time.
Companies that take too hard of a line on the return to the office risk losing talented employees, and without reason. As we’ve noted here, engagement is what really matters in terms of employee retention and team productivity.
It’s not where people work but how they work that matters. And according to research from The Conference Board, “Work location—whether on-site, remote, or a hybrid blend of the two—has no impact on self-reported engagement levels.”
The 2022 State of U.S. Consumer Trends Report (a look at 2023 trends) from HubSpot and Brandwatch covers a wide range of topics. Among the most interesting for employers are the sections on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and workplace trends.
The report details how action to benefit the local community and create a welcoming workplace through a focus on employee well-being plus diversity and inclusion appeals to both workers and customers.
Team building is the thread that ties these priorities together. Team building and professional development programs in general help improve leadership, workplace relationships, communication, collaboration, and productivity—while also being fun. CSR programs specifically deliver those benefits while also benefiting local community organizations and creating emotionally powerful shared experiences.
Want to learn more? We literally wrote the book on corporate team building—check it out!