Shaped by their pandemic experience, employees will demand a new experience that empowers them to work on their own terms
Work has changed more in the last year than at any time in history. And more change is in store. Fueled by the pandemic, employees have begun to rethink what work means and what they expect from it. And to attract and retain them in the tightest labor market the world has ever seen, employers need to do some thinking too and revamp the employee experience.
Over the last year and a half, employees have been forced from the familiar confines of the office to their homes, where they’ve had to figure out new ways to engage and be productive. In the process, they’ve learned a few things about work and what they need to be and do their best. And here’s what they expect in the year ahead:
Remote work was admittedly a forced experiment. But employees have largely adapted, and research shows 90 percent want to continue to do it — at least part of the time — going forward. Why? Because they’ve seen the positive impact it can have. Nearly 70 percent of workers believe they are as, if not more productive working from home. And 83 percent say remote work allows them to strike a better work-life balance.
Employers have also seen the benefits that flexible work can deliver, and four out of five say they plan to adopt hybrid models and allow employees to work at home or in the office as a result. But some are attaching strings that will prove unacceptable, such as mandating a certain number of days in each location. Employees don’t want to be told where and how to work. They want to be trusted to decide based on what they need to get done and where they feel they can do it best.
The fully remote work model forced by the pandemic has in many ways leveled the playing field by giving everyone an equal box on the screen and the same access to information and opportunities to contribute. As companies move toward hybrid models, employees expect them to maintain this consistent, inclusive and equal experience through technologies and new work policies that provide a common and transparent environment in which they have consistent access to applications and information to get work done, wherever they happen to be.
Regardless of where they are working, employees must be able to engage and collaborate in a simple, secure and reliable way. They’ve been given technology to do this. But they’ve been given too much that is too hard to use, and it’s hindering their performance. As uncovered by Work Your Way,
· 64 percent of employees are using more communication and collaboration tools than they were prior to the pandemic, and
· 71 percent say these tools have made work more complex.
They’re frustrated and just want a simpler way to work, aided by technology that eliminates the friction and noise from their jobs and adapts to their work styles rather than forcing them to learn new ways of doing things.
Employees are experiencing more stress and anxiety than ever. And as the pandemic wears on, they’re looking to employers for more holistic support in managing it through offerings that, in addition to their physical health, provide for their financial, social and mental well-being.
They want to feel secure in their finances and ability to care for themselves and others. They want tools they can use to combat burnout and in today’s always-on, digitally-driven world, know when to turn things off. And they want access to be well, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally.
When it comes to work today, employees don’t want jobs. If they did, they wouldn’t be quitting in droves and shunning a record number of open positions. What they want is opportunities to do meaningful work on their own terms for employers who give them the space and tools they need to succeed. And if they get it, the sky will be the limit.