The first two blogs of this Condeco series have explored the phenomenon of the Great Resignation: what’s fueling it, why businesses have to respond, and why employee experiences are so important within that response. But there are two sides to every story.
If you’re a senior executive within your business reading this, you may be feeling right now that we’re going into a future of work where employees hold all the cards. “If the world of work is so much more flexible and employee-centric, what’s in it for us as a business?” you may well ask. It’s a reasonable question to pose: flexible work can easily sound like a new deal that’s heavily skewed in favor of the employee, but the reality is that it can be a win-win situation for both parties.
In this final blog of the series, we’ll explore how employers benefit just as much as employees when flexible work is successfully implemented.
Bridging the flexible-work perception gap
By now, every business is aware that the world of work is changing around them. All have taken steps to reassess their working model, whether that’s to introduce more flexibility, respond to the impact of the pandemic and to manage the return-to-office strategy, or a combination of the two.
The problem is that while many senior managers feel they’re getting their response right, their employees – the ones living the new experience every day – don’t necessarily agree with them.
Gartner recently released its 2021 Hybrid Work Employee Survey, taking the views of 4000 employees across a range of industries. It revealed that six major perception gaps exist between businesses and employees:
- Executives think they have a culture of flexibility — employees don’t
- Executives are better equipped to work remotely than employees
- Employees have lower levels of trust than executive leaders
- Executives think they listen, but employees disagree
- Executives hear one thing and employees another
- Executives feel greater purpose than employees
This indicates a major trend whereby, for a variety of reasons, employees are still unhappy with the flexibility their employer has delivered so far. This disconnect features highly in another recent survey, carried out by Limeade, with 1000 employees who have recently switched jobs. When asked what they wanted from a new employer, employee choice and autonomy featured highly:
- Ability to work remotely according to personal preference: 40%
- Better compensation: 37%
- Better management: 31%
- Better company reputation: 29%
- Better work-life balance: 26%
- Flexible work schedule: 24%
All this makes it clear that employers have some way to go in truly giving employees what they want in terms of flexibility and choice.
What should flexible work look like?
So what should a flexible work model contain in a world where employees want experiences that they’re currently not getting? Put simply, it should be based around the ability for employees to work where and when they want, to make those decisions themselves, and to easily organize everything they need for their working days.
Key elements of this include:
- Maximum choice: the ability to choose when to come into the office, and to book any workspaces needed in seconds, at any time and from any location
- Self-service organization: the ability for employees to manage their days in the office to suit their schedule, including booking desks, meeting rooms or video calls
- Seamless transitions: blurring the lines of office and home working, so that employees can be fully productive in both, and pick whichever one meets their specific needs day-by-day
- Easy collaboration: the ability to quickly check co-workers’ schedules, so that meetings and collaboration can be organized, however their own working arrangements may differ
To facilitate this model, employers must deploy a shared, bookable approach to the workspaces within the office, with employees able to search for and book spaces independently. Technology like a workspace booking platform is essential to making this practical for employees, and for the business.
Additionally, employers should be taking a constant approach to monitoring office and employee trends, both from employee feedback and through data and analytics. This information allows them to make regular changes as and when needed, to keep the office environment perfectly attuned to employee expectations.
Great for employees, great for business
Back in the first blog of this series, we set out the ten driving forces behind the Great Resignation, all of which pose difficulties for business. By deploying a flexible work model that puts employees in control, every single one of those difficulties can be addressed in some way. Let’s take a look at them in turn:
- Return-to-the-office inconsistencies: flexible work removes any issues employees may have with their employers about coming back into the office. Those who want to can do so; those who don’t can stick to remote working for longer
- Enjoyment of home working: by providing workspaces in the office that appeal to employees, employees feel motivated enough to work from the office more often, ensuring the office still plays an important part in business life and culture
- The lingering pandemic: however the risk of COVID infection or rules like vaccine mandates develop, employers and employees can all easily adapt to change with minimal disruption
- Burnout: employees can apply some control if they feel overworked, improving their wellbeing, as well as building stronger confidence in the workforce that the employer is looking out for their mental health
- Work-life balance: with greater choice, employees can get their ideal balance between their working and personal lives, making them feel happier in their jobs and improving the perception of the business as a positive company to work for
- Wages: while flexible work doesn’t give anyone a pay rise, it can improve employee satisfaction to such an extent that employees are more inclined to stay with the business, even if they’re still disappointed with their pay
- Greater financial freedom: similar to the previous point, happier employees won’t want to quit a job without having a new one ready to go, even if they have the financial means to do so
- Lack of trust and autonomy: employees feel more empowered to work harder and take pride in their jobs when they feel trusted enough by their employers to organize their own schedules
- Peer influence: instead of quitting friends, co-workers and relatives inspiring others to quit, those who feel positively about their work and their employer can encourage others to stay on
- A robust job market: an employer that gets a reputation for flexibility and employee centricity will find it easier to attract new talent in a job market full of eligible candidates
All of this demonstrates that flexible work creates better future outcomes for all. Employees get to define their own working model, fit it in with the rest of their life and feel empowered for doing so. Employers get a happier, more loyal, more productive workforce, and stand out as a leader in the job market. And these will be the businesses for whom the Great Resignation is not only less of a problem, but is in fact a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a change that’s positive for all in the long term.
This Condeco blog series has been created to help businesses maximize the opportunity that the Great Resignation presents, and create better future outcomes for employees through control and flexibility over how and when they work.
To explore how flexibility can help in more detail, download our free eBook guide: The Great Reward.