Companies need to rehumanize the way they think about work, says a new report from Bain & Company, which found that 58 percent of workers across 10 major economies feel the pandemic has forced them to rethink the balance between work and their personal lives.

“Much of the prevailing thinking about the relationship between workers and firms was forged in a very different world than the one we live in today, where options were more limited and relationships more transactional,” said Andrew Schwedel, partner at Bain & Company. “Today’s environment requires a radical rethink of both the structure and the purpose of work, but to do that one needs to first understand the shifting motivations of individual workers.”

Bain & Company and Dynata surveyed 20,000 workers and conducted more than 100 in-depth interviews. The researchers looked at 10 countries—the United States, China, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Brazil—that represent around 65 percent of global GDP and offer a broad perspective from different cultures around the world.

The report, The Working Future, highlights key themes that are reshaping the future of work and the steps firms need to take to get ahead in the shifting war for talent.

Motivations for work are changing. Gains in living standards over the past 150 years allow people to spend less of their time working but also raise expectations about what a job should provide. While compensation still ranks among the top priorities for 56 percent of workers, only 22 percent now rank it as No. 1, with flexibility, interesting work and job security also among the most important factors. Many workers also expect their careers to provide social connection and a sense of higher purpose.

Beliefs about what makes a “good job” are diverging. Bain & Company has identified six worker archetypes, each with a different set of priorities: operators, givers, artisans, explorers, strivers and pioneers. Leaders need to recognize that their personal perspective of what a good job looks like won’t necessarily be shared by everyone in their organization.

Automation is helping to rehumanize work. Distinctly human advantages—problem solving skills, interpersonal connection and creativity—are growing in importance as automation eliminates routine work.

Technological change is blurring boundaries. The survey shows that 47 percent of workers globally view many of their colleagues as friends. However, with remote work on the rise, many coworker interactions over the last two years have been virtual. Companies and teams need to find a way to maintain connection and trust without the physical connection provided by offices.

Taking these trends into account, the study identifies three actions for business leaders.

  • Instead of being talent takers, become talent makers. This requires scaling investments in learning, thinking laterally about career journeys and cultivating a growth mindset.
  • Stop managing workers like machines. Instead, support them as they build personal capacity and create a career that matches their individual ideas of a meaningful life.
  • Build an organization that offers a sense of belonging and opportunity for its many unique workers while remaining united through a shared vision and communal values.