The Future of Work

No matter how you look at it, Covid-19 has changed the business world. Some may love the freedom and flexibility from working at home; others may crave the structure of the “old” office life. Companies had to pivot at the beginning of the pandemic to ensure their business could stay afloat, and there is no doubt that as we transition out of the pandemic, there will be another shift in what the work-life balance looks like. But, what will that shift look like, how will it affect your business and employees?

Throughout mid-2020, employee-initiated separations were down 27%; however, that trend may soon be headed in the other direction. According to a 2020 Employee Burnout Survey conducted by IPSOS (a Global Market Research firm), 1 in 4 US employees plan to leave their employer as the pandemic subsides. The numbers are even high among millennials and parents with school-aged children (1 in 3). Employees are feeling burnt out and motivated to make a move.
 
For businesses, it’s important to be prepared for the change in employee behavior. You must look at why employees may look to leave and how to retain your top talent.

Why Will Employees Look To Leave?

Burnout:
Employees were on the verge of burnout before the pandemic, add the weight of this crisis; everything is magnified. One poll indicated that 57% of US employees are burned out, up nearly 50% from almost a year ago. As mentioned before, millennials and parents with school-aged kids in remote learning have the highest burnout level. 
 
As the economy and job market rebound, they feel a job change is their best option, and that they are left with no other choice.
 
Family Needs:
Families that are navigating the world of remote learning and being good employees find the balance nearly impossible. Whether a family is homeschooling or navigating their kid’s online school schedules, it’s an added stress. Some families find moving to a 1-income home to be the best option. Some parents are quitting their job to focus on their children’s education, leaving some to not return to work for the for seeable future. The Washington Post reported in October of 2020 that nearly two million women left the workforce; this has brought the American working women percentage to the lowest it’s been since 1988.
 
Revelation:
There is nothing like a pandemic to make you sit and think about the future and what you want from it. What do people want, and does your company offer it? Throughout the last year, many individuals realize that life is too short not to love what you do. Parents are home more, spending time with their families, getting back to simpler times. There are fewer business trips, fewer late-night dinner meetings. As we begin to see “the light at the end of the tunnel”, employees are going to start asking the question of “is this the job I want to go back to”.

Retain your top talent

This leaves businesses with the question of “How do you retain your top talent?” as we head out of this pandemic?
 
Here are a few things to consider:
Flexible Hybrid Schedule:
If your company hasn’t already, it may be worth looking at a flexible hybrid schedule for jobs that are suitable for it. Employees have grown accustomed to having some freedom with their work schedules. Parents are still juggling remote learning with their children. Some employees have taken on caring for aging parents or other balancing acts they didn’t have before. As people are coming back into the office, there is an opportunity to explore a more flexible schedule to ease the stress of “managing it all.”
 
Talk to your employees:
It seems like the obvious thing to do, ask your employees what they want. But the tricky part is having the conversation openly and honestly, so your employees don’t feel they will be penalized for speaking their minds. You want to hear from a range of employees in your office on what they want and how everyone can move forward together. What does the “new workday” look like? How can management get what they need while giving their employees what they need to succeed?
 
Make the most of face-to-face time:
One thing that has suffered over the past year is connection. Virtual meetings are great, but nothing beats face-to-face interaction. Employees miss the casual “water cooler” conversations. The non-work getting to know you, feeling connected, conversations. Those are the conversations that build a strong team and a work culture. Management should look at schedules and make the most of in-person time to build their team’s bond and solidify their work culture.

Moving forward

As we navigate this world post-pandemic, it’s important to keep in mind; we aren’t bouncing back; we can’t just “return to normal”. We have to have open conversations and move forward, both about what people need both as an employee and as an individual, and what the company needs to have success in the future.