The Great Retrospection: rethinking the ways we work

The Covid-19 pandemic gave us time to think about the way we work, and the expectations we have of our employers.

Just over 40% of the global workforce plans to look for new employment over the next 12 months. In August alone, 4 million US workers quit their jobs. This trend is quickly making its way across the globe and organizations are scrambling to attract and retain talent. To combat this, organizations need to focus as much on purpose as they do on pay and promotions. Emphasizing company culture, providing opportunities to move sideways as well as up, and giving employees ownership over their jobs.

The great retrospection

The Covid-19 pandemic gave us time to think about the way we work, and the expectations we have of our employers.

As countries moved in and out of lockdowns, people found themselves working and living in entirely new ways. For some it was business as usual, but for others the Covid-19 world was eye-opening. No more commuting, no more ties or heels, no more missed dinner times or office perks in place of employee experience. Workers discovered a new world of flexibility and ownership, and they liked what they saw.

As we’ve adjusted to living with the pandemic, organizations have taken different positions on the return to work. Some require employees back in the office full time, some remain fully remote, and many have settled on the middle ground. But employee interests usually aren’t driving those decisions. It’s more likely to be ‘what’s good for the organization’, or more rightly ‘what’s good for me, as a manager who wants everyone in the same place as me’.

But preliminary findings out of the University of Sydney show that people who commute could save an average of 90 hours (two-and-a-half weeks working weeks) per year if work from home continues at current rates. That’s a good amount of home life back on the table. And 70% of workers said that working remotely would help their mental health.

Ignoring things employees care deeply about ‘in the interests of the organization’ is clearly contributing to the surge in resignations.

Who is being affected?

Different industries and seniority levels have been impacted differently.

  • The highest rates of attrition have been in the technology and healthcare sectors, which both experienced increased burnout and workload due to the pandemic. 72% of tech/IT workers are considering leaving their jobs in the next 12 months
  • Industries like hospitality, which lack job security and benefits, saw many leave the industry entirely. Mid-career employees have the highest rates of attrition as they have enough experience to fill open jobs. Meanwhile, low paid employees are leaving to take advantage of the more attractive packages organizations are offering to draw people in.
  • According to a Women in the Workplace report, women are more prone to feeling burnt out as they are most likely to have taken primary care of their children during this time. 33% of women are considering leaving the workforce entirely or downshifting their careers.

What should employers be doing?

Competition for talent is high. Many organizations are adding more money and benefits to job listings in an effort to attract talent. Although money has been at the forefront of many job seekers' minds, they are increasingly looking beyond the numbers. Work culture, growth opportunities and flexible working arrangements have been given greater importance since the rise of the pandemic.

C-Suite leaders need to rethink their Employer Value Proposition (EVP). 49% say they do not plan on revising their companies EVPs, but if they don’t adapt to employees’ shifting attitudes and desires of working people, they’re not going to be able to fill open roles. A good place to start on your EVP is with the people you currently have. They can provide the greatest insights into what your organization is like to work for now, and what they would like it to be.

Leaders also need to bring their people along the journey of defining the future of work. There’s a great disconnect between what executives think their employees want and what employees actually want. A recent survey found that 75% of executives think their employees wish to work from the office at least 3 times a week, as opposed to 34% of employees who share this belief.

It’s important for leaders to look beyond designing how people work, but also the culture in which they work. Roadmapping your company culture with your employees gives everyone ownership of it. This brings your company back to caring for human experience (HX) over employee experience (EX)…

January 9, 2022