Over the past few months we’ve been speaking to our clients in HR, people operations, and IT about how they envision the future of their workplace. We’ve also spoken with many employees across a variety of organizations, to understand their needs and concerns.
As many employers are thinking about their next steps amidst the Great Resignation, or as some are seeing it the Great Re-Invention, we wanted to provide insights on how companies are navigating the changes in how we work.
Why are employers changing their work policies? As the needs of the workforce change, failing to adapt could impact their top line revenue, bottom line profitability, and overall corporate culture.
We are seeing employees leave for companies that allow them more flexibility and accommodate their needs, those that embrace the future of work. Right now, to compete as companies strive to attract top talent, employers will have to adapt in order to safeguard their future success. Now is the time to evolve, or you might end up behind.
What do employers want to see in their workplace?
We have been having conversations with leaders at our clients' organizations to learn more about the changing workforce and how they envision the future of work. In these conversations, we saw that employers were very conscious about the needs of their employees. As we had these conversations, the following trends appeared as priorities for forward thinking organizations.
Giving employees the flexibility they need
Many of our customers have said that it’s important to them that employees have the flexibility they need to balance their personal and professional lives. According to our clients, flexibility is now crucial to retain employees and attract a broader pool of talent. Not only does flexibility make companies more attractive places to work, it’s also proving to be more productive.
According to EY’s survey, 56% of employees who were likely to leave their job in the next year and 70% of loyal employees (unlikely to leave) want to work at least partially remotely (3 or more days a week). This is a trend employers see as a growing demand in their workforce as 65% of employers are committed to flexible ways of working moving forward.
Employees feel a sense of community
There is a concern that the transition in how we work has impacted workplace culture. With folks working in and outside of the office, there needs to be a concentrated effort to build a sense of community and therefore loyalty to a company.
We spoke to leaders about their plans and many of them were very excited by tools that allow them to social work schedules. What is this capability? These tools make it easy for employees to note when they are available to collaborate in office and suggests opportunities to interact with their co-workers. This feature can be very helpful for HR in terms of space planning and employee engagement.
Employers are concerned about changes in their organization’s culture since the pandemic. Just 40% of employers felt their organization's culture improved amidst the pandemic. We are seeing what EY notes as the “Optimistic” approach from employers who feel this concern and are taking action by embracing new tools and programs to improve engagement. Many companies we’ve spoken to are interested in socializing work schedules, improved mentorship and coaching programs, and managing employee resource groups.
Ensuring employees can easily get help
As one of our leading enterprise customers noted, a major issue for businesses is having a place to easily and quickly disseminate information to employees. In a time where outbreaks, wars, and other crises can happen at any moment, employers are looking for a strong communication system with employees.
Many employers we spoke to are specifically looking for a policy center which employees can easily reference to answer questions or view policies, for example related to their hybrid and flexible work arrangements. As EY’s survey notes, a key weakness for employers has been effectively communicating a formal and clear policy and guidelines for hybrid and flexible work
Managers have the tools they need to manage teams
One of the key trends we saw when speaking to customers was that Managers are lacking the tools they need to lead diverse, distributed teams. This is optimally addressed by employing digital tools where you can streamline workflows and track data for ongoing measurement and improvement.
According to a survey conducted by EY, 56% of employees who were likely going to leave and 83% of loyal employees felt their employers needed to enhance their digital tools. Employees want their companies to embrace the digital age since they are now used to the convenience of technology based solutions.
Employees know their wellbeing is a priority
Burnout since the pandemic is something employers need to combat proactively. Numerous clients have noted that they want to survey employees and have concentrated efforts surrounding mental well-being. In fact, one client has noted that this is the number one thing they are excited about in terms of ReturnSafe’s (Now WorkEQ's) upcoming features. A few of our clients have said they want to know “why people[employees] are not happy” or not doing well and are happy to see that our tools will allow them to provide resources to these employees in real time to help and assess employee needs over all.
Physical and mental wellness are both important to prioritize. One of our clients, Motus, has successfully navigated the pandemic by putting their people first. And although we have entered a new phase of COVID-19, where we have vaccines, that is not the whole solution. According to our data, 55% of vaccinated users of our platform have tested positive for COVID-19. This shows there is still a need to manage infectious diseases as a part of employee wellbeing.
As noted by Fortune, understanding and prioritizing employee wellbeing is now critical for employers looking for positive business outcomes this year. The employers we spoke to are very interested in getting attuned to their employees' needs through sentiment surveys, more proactive PTO discussions for people who need a break, and crafting an easier response system for crises such as the distressing instances we’ve seen from outbreaks to wars to the Supreme Court Decision on Roe v. Wade. From healthcare to our smaller office businesses, folks are seeing reduced morale and want to check-in with employees to create an engaged, healthy workplace.
Employees are nurtured and retained
Employers are especially interested in mentorship and coaching in the workplace as it relates to attracting and retaining top talent. They are interested in tools that would allow them to create a centralized program and alleviate the manual workload of managing the process.
Employers must fight to retain and engage their existing employees while at the same attracting top talent for open positions. These are two major pain points for HR but they are connected. Both the new candidates and current employees want to see that the company cares about them and invests in programs for personal and career development
What does this mean?
There is room for employers to grow and adapt as the workplace continues to change. Those who adapt to the changing work model can optimize employee engagement and avoid potential turnover. As the statistics show, there are several employees who are seriously considering leaving their jobs and see spaces for improvement from their employers.
How can you adapt to the changing needs of your workforce? Create a program to address their needs and start measuring impact.
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