The Evolving Workplace…

We are still learning about the new demands placed upon organizations by hybrid working. Insights on changing employee behaviour and its impact on the business can no longer be considered from just the perspective of the office. Some recent observations…….

We often hear of younger people being “entitled”; with “expectations” for things or services. That may extend beyond the workplace or so the folks at the WSJ would have us believe, reporting that debt amongst young people is up 29% post-COVID.

Put bluntly higher debt means employees are more likely to value the security of a regular paycheck and an environment they know. That’s the good news.

There is a growing cohort who seek rewards beyond pay. Hybrid working has proved perfect for those who love their work but not their colleagues, it has offered the opportunity to opt out of the work community.

They may spend Monday and Friday in the office to avoid the huddle and view the water cooler as a place that attracts complainers! They derive mean­ing and are motivated by what they do, rather than the culture of the workplace. Before COVID they would have been known as disrupters – hybrid work has made them more challenging to identify.

At the Davos economic forum this year there was much discussion on “mattering” or the need to recognize that your work was import­ant to oth­ers and how the sense of self-worth that it generates, was motivating.

Technology-informed candidate screening, internal equity, increasing diversity, sensitivity to mental well-being, and further demarcation of roles, to this group, combine to diminish their expectation that their employer will be able to recognize and reward the extra effort. Employers get to hear of these frustrations and then only sometimes when they announce their resignation.

Managers are generally not equipped to identify or support “non-conformist” contributors in culture-driven organizations; they have more on their hands managing the parallel work universes. However, we remain in the test phase of hybrid working as we figure out these new behaviors, yet when asked, most employers view the transition as complete. Survival was the measure of success.

Cisco reports more than 80% of Canadian employees want work location flexibility and that its absence would directly affect their employment decisions. 23 percent placing it second in importance to pay. Somewhat ironically, they also report that 61 percent of employers were setting mandatory attendance for days in the office.

New employment arrangements require more than just organized social activity. To be effective they must also do more than tolerate parallel work worlds.

So, what should we take away from this?

  • New hybrid behaviors are continuing to emerge;
  • Leadership skills will need fine-tuning;
  • Effective work environments will be alert to this evolution; and will
  • Respond to employee “expectations” in their efforts to secure retention.

Image by Dorothe from Pixabay

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