We aren’t the same workforce we were a few years ago. Our eyes have been opened to the world of remote/hybrid work. And one thing is certain, there’s no going back. Employees have tasted the freedom and enjoy making themselves a priority. Now, employers are challenged with meeting and trying to exceed employees’ desires, to come out on top in the battle for talent.
One way to do this is by keeping up with what employees accept from you.
In its second annual study (Great expectations: A road map for making hybrid work work), Microsoft surveyed 31,000 people in 31 countries, along with an analysis of a trillion of productivity signals in Microsoft 365 and labor trends on LinkedIn.
New priorities for employees
Employees have new priorities, and they aren’t willing to make the sacrifices they did in the past. The survey found that over half (53%) of the people are more likely to put their health and well-being ahead of their work. And if employers aren’t prioritizing their employees’ health and well-being, it’s likely their employees will fly the coup. Eighteen percent of respondents quit their job last year and 52% of Gen Z and millennials said they’ll likely get a new job next year.
But seeking new, more flexible jobs isn’t just being done by people in non-management positions. Leaders want that flexibility, too. Forty-seven percent said they’re likely to apply for a new job that’s not near their home in the next year.
Managers feel stuck in the middle
While leaders are steering the ship, it’s the managers who get to hear it from both sides. They hear from the leaders what they’re willing to give, and then they hear it from their employees what they want and expect. They’re the go between. It’s not an easy thing to deal with day in and day out. So, to keep your managers happy and keep their employees happy, managers need the power to act. If their hands are tied, frustration will set in. And most employers can’t afford to lose good managers. But it may happen because 54% said they feel leadership is out of touch with employee expectations. Another 74% said they feel they have no power or resources to make the changes needed to keep their teams happy.
Make commuting worth their while
Help employees feel connected and engaged. When employers do that, employees are more innovative and productive. Employees must know when and why they need to come into the office. If it’s just to sit there and stare at a wall, the employee feels manhandled and not valued. Bring them in for important meetings or collaboration on projects. If you make it clear, employees won’t feel so confused. The study found 38% of hybrid employees said knowing when and why they need to be in the office is their biggest challenge. And only 28% of leaders noted they created new team agreements for hybrid work. Other things the study uncovered: 43% of remote workers don’t feel included in meetings and only 27% of leaders said their company developed hybrid meeting etiquette so employees feel engaged and included.
Flexible work doesn’t mean 24/7
Microsoft reported that the average time spent in meetings for Teams users went up 252% since March 2020, and meetings spill over what’s considered the normal business hours. This includes weekends, too. Flexibility is great and allows employees to be more present in their lives outside of work. But there must be boundaries to protect employees from burnout.