The bad news: Your employees hate some things about work.
The good news: You can make employees love work again.
Sure, work is still weird. Some companies haven’t found their rhythm now they’re getting back to the office – or have delayed getting back. Many employees aren’t sure where, how or if they want to work nowadays.
“We’re on the cusp of a new workforce culture,” said Frank Connolly, director of research at MindEdge Learning. “This will come with its own challenges, and companies will need to implement new processes for hiring, training, and maintaining culture.”
In fact, a recent MindEdge/Skye Learning’s survey found employees’ emotions ran the gamut. Some were afraid to return to work. Some were elated. Many employees preferred hybrid. Others can’t wait to collaborate in person.
As HR professionals face these uncertainties, here’s help: Researchers found what employees hate about work now – and we have tips on what you can do to keep them satisfied and engage. Employees don’t like:
Nearly 70% of employees worked from home at the peak of the coronavirus. And most loved the flexibility it offered. So now they hate rigid schedules.
“Many employees have established a new normal and have settled into a new routine while working from home,” said Marsha Akpodiete, HR Coach at Paychex. “They have also made adjustments for childcare and eldercare that may be difficult to rearrange given the fact that the pandemic is not yet over.”
So when a company asks – or mandates – office hours, employees aren’t happy.
Proof: Two-thirds of employees who have a flexible schedule report a good work/life balance. Less than half of employees who have a rigid schedule say they’re balanced, the MindEdge/Skye survey found. And that leads to work dissatisfaction.
Fix: Employees crave flexible schedules – from the hours they work to the days they’re expected on site. You likely already do what you can to arrange those kinds of schedules. So the key now is to remind front-line managers to remain flexible and avoid micro-managing.
Most workplaces aren’t filled with bad bosses. But, one manager has influence over many employees – and they all might report they work for a horrible boss!
“According to a McKinsey Study, 75% of survey participants said that the most stressful aspect of their job was their immediate boss,” said Jan Bruce, CEO and co-founder, meQuilibrium.
Some complain their boss doesn’t manage a remote staff well. Other employees feel the boss isn’t effective on-site. Some dislike micro-management. A few say they don’t get enough direction.
Bottom line: Many front-line managers aren’t equipped to lead their teams.
“meQuilibrium found that these critical managers feel under-supported and overwhelmed,” said Bruce. “Managers are under more pressure, and being asked to do more than they are trained for. Take care of your managers, support them and train them.”
Fix: Double down on front-line management training. Go beyond skills training. Offer opportunities – in-house, online or at events – to hone soft skills such as emotional intelligence, decision making and empathy.
So much is uncertain in the world today, and work doesn’t provide the certainties many employees crave.
A lot of issues lie in the “Vax Gap” – the chasm between vaccinated and unvaccinated employees. Obviously, they disagree on the COVID-19 vaccine.
But it runs deeper. Nearly half of the unvaccinated feel stressed about being at work with their brethren. About 80% of vaccinated employees feel stressed about working with unvaccinated colleagues, a recent Perceptyx study found. Even employees who work in places that reached herd immunity levels (70%) don’t feel confident or certain.
And that has employers fed up with uncertainty, too: Many are concerned about their ability to retain employees based on decisions whether to mandate vaccinations and other workplace expectations.
Fix: There’s no specific fix to uncertainty. The best thing any employer can do is make transparent decisions. You also want to keep employees well informed about issues and potential solutions. Ask for and act on regular employee feedback.
Many employees fear the workplace has or will become unfair with a hybrid work model.
Almost 60% of employees think their managers prefer on-site employees to remote folks, ADP’s “On-site, Remote or Hybrid: Employee Sentiment On The Workplace” survey found. And it’s not unfounded: Fifty-nine percent of managers in the survey admitted they actually do prefer on-site employees!
Not only is this bad for morale, but inequities and disparities can lead to bias accusations and lawsuits.
Fix: Host regular refresher training on discrimination policies and procedures. Remind front-line managers to treat on-site and off-site employees the same, distributing work, responsibility, training and opportunities equally.
We know what you’re thinking: How can employees possibly hate vacation time?!
They don’t. But Willis Towers Watson experts found employees dislike the confines of vacation time. Their perspectives changed recently.
“During the pandemic, employees struggled to take time off and many lost vacation time due to use-it-or-lose-it policies,” said Jackie Reinberg, Senior Director, North America Leader, Absence, Disability Management & Life, at Willis Towers Watson. “Unlimited PTO is one way to impart more flexibility into time-off programs.”
Most organizations that adopt unlimited PTO find employees don’t take advantage of it. They take time to enjoy life, improve well-being and disconnect from work stresses. Then they come back refreshed and engaged.
Fix: Consider offering unlimited PTO, even just for a trial basis, to find out if it would work in your culture. “Generosity of PTO is employees’ highest priority when it comes to work life balance issues,” said Reinberg.
Many studies suggest the majority of employees want to work from home all or part of the time. But one recent study by Morning Consult and commissioned by The New York Times found 45% of employees across industries want to be back in the office.
They hate isolation. Some need to collaborate in person. Others want to socialize with co-workers again. Some crave office routines.
Fix: HR leaders will want to keep health, safety and CDC guidelines at the forefront of any workplace plan. But try to maintain flexibility for the group that wants to be on-site.