In 2024, business leaders will need to navigate a fine balance between addressing hybrid employee expectations without sacrificing organizational goals.
During the Covid lockdown, many employees were thriving in a hybrid work environment. It’s no surprise that many hybrid employees wanted to maintain the flexibility to work at home. According to McKinsey & Company, 4 out of 5 employees who have tried hybrid work in the past two years do not want to return to the office full time.
Post-lockdown, additional shifts in employee mindset have appeared. Employees have become more vocal about their need for flexibility. This includes issues related to pay and benefits, how they work, and organizational culture.
Business leaders must decide how to respond without sacrificing organizational interests.
The Haas School of Business showed a clear link between a flexible and adaptable work culture and superior organizational performance. High-tech companies with adaptable cultures were shown to have a 28% increase in revenue over a three-year period. This is a positive sign.
But what can business leaders do to address this change in employee mindset? Be proactive and adapt in areas such as:
- Recruiting and retaining employees
- Day-to-day employee workflow
- Employee-employer communication
These will improve your ability to retain top talent and work towards greater organizational success.
Mindset Change #1: “I want an employer who will offer me what I’m worth.”
Hybrid employees have become more selective about what they want in an employer. Unfortunately, there’s a disconnect between what employees want and what employers think they want. Employees seek more than the customary higher wages or seniority. This puts additional pressure on organizations to adapt.
According to Glenda Wainer, president of Brickstone Recruiting, “employees are a little bit more demanding in terms of what they want in order to accept a position”. Preferences such as location, expanded benefits, and additional vacation time are at the top of her clients’ wish lists. Some clients are even willing to accept a reduced salary if they’re guaranteed a hybrid work schedule.
As employees become more selective, employers struggle to attract and retain top talent. Benefits Canada reports 59% of surveyed employers were impacted by labor shortages in 2022, as they struggled to fill the gaps.
Some organizations, however, are taking the lead and have plans to address the talent drought and employee preferences.
Express Employment Inc. reports 66% of surveyed employers plan to increase wages, and 48% are offering additional benefits such as sick leave (17%), better health care benefits (16%) and additional paid time off (16%). These employers recognize that action is needed to reduce employee shortages.
In the coming year, employers must be proactive. Organizations that embrace change are more likely to minimize negative business impact and remain competitive in the talent marketplace.
Mindset Change #2: “I want to work for an employer with advanced tech so I can be more efficient and more productive.”
Most employees take pride in their work. They want to make a positive contribution and play their part in growing organizational success. However, the pandemic uncovered that many organizations weren’t ready for the tech changes needed to promote a productive hybrid workforce. In fact, McKinsey & Company’s survey found only 24% of organizations strongly agree that they use advanced workplace technologies to facilitate hybrid/remote work.
Organizations that keep the status quo may discover that not all processes mesh well in a hybrid world. This leads to potential decreases in productivity and employee frustration. Common issues may include the following:
- lack of communication tools to maintain timely discourse with teams
- complex video conferencing platforms
- Internet connection difficulties
- Outdated hardware
- Reduced hardware options compared to in-office employees
Organizations must weigh the benefits versus the costs of upleveling the tech available to hybrid employees. Revisiting workplace processes and technology to see if they are still effective and promote employee productivity will lead to many benefits.
Solutions that better support hybrid workers and boost productivity include the following:
- Robust project management apps
- Simple video conferencing platforms
- Faster, more reliable hardware
- Office set-up that mirrors the in-office workspace
- Easy access to online databases
It’s imperative for organizations to have a strong tech stack, then streamline inefficient day-to-day workflows that don’t align with the hybrid work environment. Not only will it improve productivity and employee wellbeing, but it can also fuel employee creativity and innovation.
Mindset Change #3: “I want an organization that values my opinion.”
Positive employee-employer relationships drive organizational success. However, this can only happen if an effort is made to encourage two-way communication.
PwC conducted an employee survey where 73% of respondents said they know of systems that would help them produce higher-quality work. However, their employer was unaware of this information.
It’s clear that organizations that keep the lines of communication open will reap the rewards. Employees are often an untapped resource, so it makes good business sense to solicit their ideas and feedback.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development surveyed the impact of including employee feedback on the decision-making process. Seventy percent of employees who were consulted about technology changes were positive about its impact on their job quality. In comparison, only 20% of employees who weren’t consulted felt positive about the likely impact on their job quality.
This reinforces the importance employees place on being seen as a valued member of the organization. Gartner reports that 82% of employees say it’s important for their organization to see them as a person, not just as an employee.
What can you do to show your workforce that their voice matters? Provide them with the opportunity to share their knowledge and unique point of view.
These solutions could appeal to different employee comfort levels:
- Small group video calls
- Employee voice surveys
- Anonymous feedback
- Employee task force
Help your employees become more engaged and thrive. Provide them with opportunities to cultivate ideas and collaborate. After all, an engaged employee is a more productive employee, which ultimately is a boost to your bottom line.
Since Covid, the HR space has been on a rollercoaster. Hybrid employees have different preferences, and employers are trying to keep up. More than ever, business leaders need to adapt and be more flexible.
The first step is to address employee concerns head-on. The result will be a workforce that’s more motivated, productive, and loyal.
Now’s the time to design your plan of action for 2024 so you can retain top talent and work towards greater organizational success.
This is an original piece of work from Diana Williams, B2B writer. Find Diana on LinkedIn.
- McKinsey & Company: State of the Organizations, 2023
- Jennifer A. Chatman et al., “Parsing organizational culture: How the norm for adaptability influences the relationship between culture consensus and financial performance in high-technology firms,” Journal of Organizational Behavior, August 2014, Volume 35, Number 6
- Interview with Brenda Wainer, Brickstone Recruiting, 2023
- Express Employment Inc., The Great Divide, 2022
- PwC: Tech at Work, 2018
- CIPD: Workplace Technology – The Employee Experience, 2020
- Gartner: Top 5 Priorities for HR Leaders in 2023