Tag: hybrid work

Senior leaders unaware or unwilling to alter approach to managing the workforce

According to the 2022 Culture Report on Tech-Enabled Employee Experience from Achievers Workforce Institute, companies where senior leaders accept remote work are 29% less likely to struggle with attraction and retention.

While employees’ desire for flexibility in the workplace is at an all-time high, senior leaders at many companies are unaware or unwilling to alter their approach to managing the workforce.

In fact, the number one reason that workers changed jobs during the pandemic was for better work flexibility, AWI said. Of the workers who have the option to be hybrid or remote, 85% said they prefer that option. However, two-thirds say company leaders expect them to be in the office at least part-time.

Likewise, 56% of leaders in HR say the C-Suite doesn’t understand this change in the workforce, and 45% say they don’t have support needed to make changes that will attract, engage and retain top talent.

Employer concerns

Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, Achievers Workforce Institute’s Chief Workforce Scientist said: “A major concern for company leaders is fostering a culture of connection and belonging with a dispersed workforce. We know that a strong sense of belonging drives a 3x return on a wide number of business outcomes. Many leaders believe that to achieve their desired culture, employees must be in the same physical space. However, the world of work has changed and so must our approach to creating a sense of belonging for employees. Employees are sharply focused on having an experience of connection and belonging, but they are confident they can achieve it while working from anywhere.”

Despite concerns over their performance, the research found that remote workers were equally as productive as those who worked in the office. It also found that employees are more likely to be engaged and advocate for their company when remote. They also have a tendency to trust their company leaders more.

In addition, HR leaders in companies that support remote work say they’re less likely to struggle when trying to attract and retain top talent.

The AWI study identified four types of technology that can foster the culture that both employees and company leaders are seeking: network, recognition, wellness and feedback. By implementing these systems, research shows that employers find an increase in engagement, belonging, trust and productivity, as well as their employees feeling valued and less burned out, overall.

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Hybrid workers are more satisfied than their counterparts

According to new research from Glassdoor, workers discussing hybrid work are far more satisfied in their roles than their non-hybrid counterparts. In addition, these workers are nearly half as likely to look for a new role as other employees.

Glassdoor looked at over 527,000 reviews by UK workers to examine how hybrid work impacts employees and their job hunting behaviour.

The findings show that ‘hybrid’ is a hot topic amongst employees: overall, mentions of the word grew 17 times year on year (up over 1,600%). In addition, positive discussion of ‘hybrid’ has soared by 3,682% since the beginning of the pandemic.

Anonymous reviews by employees showed that hybrid-reviewing workers rated their companies significantly higher for every workplace factor than non-hybrid workers, indicating that the former had greater satisfaction in their role.

Work-life balance showed the starkest difference for employees who mention ‘hybrid’, with a rating of 4.4 out of 5 versus 3.8 for those who don’t.

The research also revealed that while 25% of hybrid and non-hybrid workers click on job ads within a week of leaving a review on Glassdoor, those who do not mention hybrid working are almost twice as likely to start job applications. In total, 2.4% of hybrid employees applied to a new job within a week of leaving their review compared to 4.3 % of other employees – a 43% difference.

In addition to their data analysis, Glassdoor also surveyed 2,000 UK office workers to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of successful hybrid working patterns on employees.

The majority of respondents enjoy flexible working, with 71% of hybrid workers in full-time employment agreeing that they are happy with their arrangements.

When looking at the benefits of flexible working:

  • 58% said they were more productive
  • 63% were generally happier
  • 64% reported improved work-life balance
  • 74% said they enjoyed greater autonomy over their work
  • 66% were more able to attend to personal responsibilities such as caring for children or life-admin
  • 49% said they were less likely to look for a job because of the flexibility to switch between home and their workplace
  • 58% said flexible working helped them manage the increased cost of living
  • 23% said that commuting made it harder to cope with the increased cost of living

There are, however, negative aspects of hybrid working which show the importance of having good underlying policies in place:

  • 43% of hybrid workers have found it harder to connect to their colleagues,
  • 41% have struggled to learn from their peers
  • 41% have found it challenging to build a relationship with their manager or senior colleagues
  • 35% of hybrid workers feel that their working arrangement has stunted their progression

Lauren Thomas, UK economist at Glassdoor, commented: “In today’s tight labour market where there are record levels of job vacancies and unemployment is low, employees are the driving force for changing how we work. While some companies may be reluctant to allow hybrid working, Glassdoor’s research shows that workers are generally happier, more productive and less likely to consider leaving if they are allowed autonomy and flexibility over their working pattern.”

“However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the world of work post-pandemic. Companies need to introduce proper hybrid working policies for those who are at the start of their career, or are not managers, to continue to learn, flourish and make connections at work. The key to successful hybrid working is creating a workplace community and culture that supports employees professionally and personally.”

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Spain, Italy, and France are top destinations

According to new research, more than half (57%) of workers are planning to extend their holidays this year to work abroad.

The research undertaken by flexible workspace operator, IWG, revealed that 88% of workers plan to work from anywhere – UK or away – this year. Hybrid working has opened up opportunities for employees to work from anywhere, and many companies are responding accordingly. For example, companies such as Airbnb and Spotify have introduced work-from-anywhere policies to provide employees with flexibility when they travel.

The research showed that 67% of workers believe that they can perform their job effectively abroad, and a further 71% agreed that they would only consider a new job if it gave them the flexibility to work from anywhere for at least some of the time.

In terms of the benefits of working from anywhere, the following were cited:

  • Improved work-life balance (76%)
  • Spend more time with friends and family abroad (52%)
  • Saving money by travelling off-peak (47%)
  • Being able to enjoy longer holidays (30%)

Eighty-nine percent of office workers surveyed said they’re now more likely to work from anywhere than pre-pandemic. A further 83% believe that businesses’ adopting hybrid working has made this lifestyle possible.

‘Flexcations’ are also a popular perk. Seventy-six percent of respondents said they would be more inclined to work for a company offering frequent ‘flexcations’ as a perk.

The top locations for hybrid overseas workers:

  • Spain
  • Italy
  • France
  • United States
  • Greece

According to IWG’s office usage data in popular overseas locations for the start of summer:

  • Barcelona, Spain, saw a 168% increase in usage from June to July
  • Italy saw significant rises for its shared offices in Turin (+412%), Milan (+312%), and Rome (+137%).
  • France also recorded growth in its offices in Rennes (+249%), Lille (+155%), and Reims (+147%).

While employees are keen on making the best of the summer months, employers must update policies. Forty-one percent of employees said their employers did not have an official policy in place, and this was preventing them from working from anywhere.

Mark Dixon, IWG Founder and CEO, commented: “For an increasing number of workers, the days of the daily commute are over, now that hybrid working offers the opportunity to work wherever we will be the most productive. And thanks to cloud technology, that can be anywhere in the world, provided there’s a high-quality internet connection available.

“So, it’s no wonder that more and more individuals are embracing the idea of combining work with travel, whether it’s for a few days tacked on to the end of a vacation, or a few months as a digital nomad.

“This trend is set to accelerate further, and we will continue to see more and more companies embracing WFA policies to improve employees’ work-life balance and increase their attractiveness as an employer.”

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How HR teams can manage difficult staffing decisions effectively

Fashion retailer Missguided has come under fire for the way it recently announced a number of redundancies.

Following its collapse into administration due to increased supply chain costs, inflation, and weakened consumer confidence, the Manchester-based retailer announced that 80 staff members were being made redundant.

Although redundancies are not good news for most employees, in the case of Missguided, it was how the announcement was handled that sparked controversy.

The i newspaper reported that staff were advised via two separate phone calls – one for staff whose jobs were safe and another for those who would be losing their jobs.

Ex-employees have claimed that:

  • Staff who were not working at the time as they were on holiday or maternity leave found out via colleagues and social media posts that they had been made redundant
  • Staff were only given 20 minutes’ notice ahead of the phone call
  • Staff did not know that two separate phone calls had been arranged
  • Staff were muted during the call and given no opportunity to speak
  • Employees who had lost their jobs were told not to return to the office and that their belongings would be returned to them
  • Security guards stopped sacked staff from entering the Manchester offices.

With remote and hybrid working, it is no surprise that companies use Zoom and other online mediums to announce major company decisions.

Missguided are not the only company to have taken this route. Earlier this year, P&O Ferries told hundreds of employees via a video recording that they were losing their jobs with immediate effect and were being replaced with cheaper agency staff.

Similarly, online US mortgage firm Better.com made 900 employees redundant via a Zoom call. Later, CEO Vishal Garg apologised for failing to show adequate “respect and appreciation” for the employees involved.

In 2020, workers at the ride-hailing firm Uber were told that they would lose their jobs via a three-minute video Zoom conference call.

Even though digital communications make sense in large organisations, hearing that one has lost a job via broadcast communication is less than ideal. Hearing the news from a line manager is a much better option.

Redundancy processes are stressful for employees and HR teams, so the process should always be handled sensitively and professionally. Honesty and clarity are key components of successful support.

Adele Edwin-Lamerton, Senior Associate, Employment at Kingsley Napley, said: “Due to the increase in hybrid working, meetings which previously would have only taken place in person now frequently occur remotely. Although this can feel impersonal, what is key is that the appropriate process is followed. It’s not so much the medium which is used, but the message it conveys which is important.”

“However pressed they are for time, employers should remember that they need to adopt a fair process and consult with their employees.”

Professor Jonathan Passmore, Senior Vice President at CoachHub, commented: “… as part of the C-Suite’s wider communication remit there is also a role to be played by a broadcast communication during the process of letting an employee go. This communication should explain more about the background to the decision, taking responsibility and sharing in the pain which such decisions cause for the individual, their family and the wider community, if the firm is a large local employer.”

“Technology is a facilitator of communications, but just because we can, does not mean we should. Leaders need to leverage technology while not losing sight of the humans who are receiving such messages. A broadcast message ensures everyone receives the same message, at the same time, but its strength is its weakness, as not every individual is the same. For some a redundancy may be welcome news, for others a mild disappointment, while for many it provokes both a financial and personal crisis.”

“At present, leaders have little training on digital communications and few organisations have protocols. As we move forward in 2022, business schools need to look again at what a leader in a hybrid world looks like and adjust what they teach. Meanwhile, organisations must look critically at their processes to ensure they still concentrate on the people which make up their organisation, putting into place support mechanisms such as workplace and career transition coaching, to help their employees navigate recent years’ life changes.”

Paul Holcroft, Associate Director at Croner, suggests: “Being made redundant can be an incredibly distressing time, so it is essential that employers maintain regular dialogue with affected staff.”

“Given the complexity of a redundancy procedure, employers should provide individuals with a clear explanation of their rights and a timeframe for when decisions will be made. This reduces any unnecessary stress and ill feeling among the workforce. Employees with a minimum of two years’ service are eligible for a reasonable amount of time off to look for new work or to arrange training for future employment.”

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The pandemic has stifled their career

According to a recent by Indeed, findings are on par with what HR experts know about Gen Z leading the Great Reshuffle. Likewise, the report builds on previous data wherein Gen Z feels disconnected and disadvantaged due to working remotely. In February 2022, Washington State University’s Carson College of Business reported that most of their Gen Z survey-takers felt that the COVID-19 pandemic stifled their career.

Indeed’s May 2022 report contextualizes these concerns with a fresh spin. Simply put, just because Gen Z feels as if they’re missing out on office work does not mean they want to start working in the office full time, if at all.

Flexibilty, as well as other perks, remains one of the ways employers can help attract and retain their young talent. Indeed’s research highlights that explicitly with the report finding that 95% of Gen Zers are considering a job with more work-from-home flexibility and 78% are actively looking for one.

Just less than half (47%) of Gen Z responders told Indeed they’re very likely to change jobs within the next 12 months, more than the slightly older cohort, millennials. Of those Gen Zers making moves to jump ship, 61% were driven by employers’ implementation of a return-to-office plan conflicting with their work from home desires.

Despite their concern, for example, more than half of Gen Zers interviewed by talent acquisition firm Lee Hecht Harrison reported career anxiety, young professionals don’t appear to be compromising on their values anytime soon. In fact, they want employers whose moral code matches theirs.

In summary, employers have two sure fire ways of attracting and retaining talent: Offer work flexibility and find define the employer brand so that candidates are attracted to who you are, not just what you do.

 

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Companies need to build wellness culture into business

There is no doubt that the thought of returning to work-life after COVID-19 is filling many employees with dread. More than two years of pandemic related uncertainty and stress have taken their toll on employees’ mental health.

Lockdowns sent us into survival mode, and it is only now, as life starts to get back to normal, that we begin to process the reality of what we’ve been through. There may still be safety concerns. Cognitively, employees may feel safe, but they may not feel emotionally safe. In addition, new habits have had two years to develop, and they may be a challenge to break.

But there are practical reasons too. A recent survey of 1,000 workers conducted by messaging app Slack suggests that almost two in five workers are stressed or anxious about going back to the office after more than two years at home. Concerns about work-life balance, the cost of travel and food were among the reasons for their stress.

The study revealed that 75% of workers had experienced burnout, and one-third had put in extra hours.

The study also found that only two in five respondents think their employers value their mental health, indicating how essential it is for businesses to provide more help.

Employers need to recognise and empathise with the different reasons that workers may be reluctant or anxious to return to the office.

Seventy percent of respondents agreed that a four-day workweek would help their mental health and wellbeing. Almost 50% believe that a hybrid work situation is the best approach for mental health, yet only 25% can choose whether or not they will work in the office.

Chris Mills, of Slack, said: “An employee who is cared for and supported will be inspired to do their best work.”

“It’s positive to see UK workers highlighting that hybrid work and technology has an important part to play in their wellbeing.”

“To ensure technology continues to be an enabler of healthier workplaces, leaders can also set a good example. Building best practices, for instance on how to use features like ‘do not disturb’ and scheduled messages to avoid out of office messaging, can be a great place to start.”

Charlène Gisèle, High Performance Coach and Burnout Advisor: “It is more important than ever for employers to integrate and incorporate a wellness culture embedded within the company. Offering wellness solutions goes beyond a gym membership – instead fostering a wellness culture is what a company ought to aim for.

Instead of focusing on concerns employees can focus on the positive aspects of being back in the office: camaraderie, being able to see colleagues again, and having social work life back on the horizon are all great for mental health as opposed to social/work isolation which many employees have faced during lockdown.”

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Employers must adapt to hybrid working to stave off loss of talent

An employee benefits survey conducted by London- and Machester-based tech recruitment firm Burns Sheehan, PixelMax, has revealed that only 4% of employees want to return to the office full time, 82% of employees prefer a hybrid model while 59% rate work-from-home flexibility as the number one choice in employee benefits. Following these findings, PixelMax, a British tech company believes that the virtual workplace is the solution to stemming the supposed “Great Resignation”.

They say that survey results show that if employers don’t empower their employees and adapt to rapidly changing working landscapes, they will lose their existing talent and fail to attract new talent.

The Great Resignation continues to make headline news since record numbers of staff are reported to either leave, walk out of their jobs voluntarily, or opt to work part time as they re-evaluate their work/life balance following the turmoil of the pandemic.

Other results to come out of the employee benefits survey found that 25% of those polled wanted a learning and development budget, 22% a clearly defined career path, 19% favouring an annual bonus, 17% wanting childcare flexibility and least important, 12% wanting share options.

During the pandemic, employees were just expected to adapt to a new regime of working fully remotely, with employers not aware of the consequences and underlying issues that would affect their employees. Many were suffering from Zoom and Teams fatigue, isolation, burnout, disengagement with their office workplace and a lack of social interaction with colleagues. This in itself brought to the surface many issues of wider mental health aspects and well-being, with many employers not understanding how this was impacting on their workforce. Many employees complained of not being able to detach themselves from their work and home life and feeling that they were not able to switch off, while others missed the office culture. The culmination of these issues resulted in the Big Resignation.

Rob Hilton CEO and Co-Founder of PixelMax, commented: “In order for business and industry to retain the best talent, they need to rethink the workplace environment. It needs to reflect a modern hybrid of the office and remote working from any location but interconnected within a platform that is engaging to all employees and makes them feel connected to their work colleagues, whether that be in the physical sense in the office or from their remote location.”

Employers need to radically rethink how to manage staff both in an office environment and remotely. Throughout the pandemic, employers were slow to adapt the workplace environment and to understand the wider issues their employees were facing in remote working environments. If employers don’t act quickly, they will get left behind because hybrid working is expected by employees.

Burns Sheehan Co-Founder, Jon Sheehan, also weighed in: “The tech hiring market has been the busiest Burns Sheehan have ever seen. I’ve never seen anything like this in the market before; most candidates will have four to five job opportunities and firm job offers on the go within 24 hours. This isn’t even about bigger salaries; that’s just a side perk. Employees are much more focussed on their work-life balance and wider aspirations in the working environment.

“This is very much an employees’ market, driven by employees calling the shots. Many are opting for a virtual workplace model, where they have the option to work from home and the office of their choosing, but also still to remain connected to the office environment even whilst working remotely. If employers don’t embrace this new model of working, then the ones who have adapted quickly to change will have the commercial advantage of hiring and retaining the best talent.”

 

 

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