The Future of Work: 5 Things Employees Want Post-Pandemic
The Future of Work: 5 Things Employees Want Post-Pandemic
The last two years have done more to alter the future of work than any other time in recent memory. Zoom calls, remote jobs, and hearing the words “You’re on mute!” have become permanent parts of the new work.
Employees had to adapt to the bulk of the changing requirements of the workplace during the pandemic. Now that the dust from COVID-19 has settled, what do they want from their jobs and their employers?
We looked into this question for you. Read on to find out how you can make the future of work better for your team.
5 Things Driving the Current Post-Pandemic Workplace
A report from McKinsey & Company on the future of remote work found that workers wanted 5 things from their employers:
- Work flexibility,
- Work-life balance,
- Competitive compensation, and
- A prioritisation of health and well-being
They also expressed that, in the post-pandemic world, they worried their needs didn’t align with those of their employers. While this may or may not be true, what workers want is consistent across many industries..
If you’re an owner, director, or manager of a team that reports to you, here are the 5 things to offer them post-pandemic, starting with: workplace flexibility.
No. 1. Workplace flexibility
The hybrid work model, or one where team members balance time spent in the office with time working from home, has become mainstream. Post-COVID, employees expect their office space to be flexible. Specifically, they want the following 3 things from their work environment, namely:
- Where they can work – The option to work remotely (or not)
- When they can work
- How they can work
The first two are daily self-explanatory. People want the choice of where they can get work done. For example, they want the ability to choose between working from the office, from home, from a cafe, or from an lake-side AirBnB in northeastern Alberta (hypothetically-speaking)
Workers also want the agency to decide when they can get work done. For instance, over a traditional 9-5 or broken up into split shifts depending on, say, family obligations.
The third thing, how they can work, is slightly more nuanced. It means giving employees the freedom to decide how they get their work done. From creative ways for automating tasks to improved ways to communicate with teammates, the opportunities for employee innovation are endless.
Privacy in the workplace goes along with increased choice
Ironically, people have become so accustomed to remoteness while working from home that they don’t want to give it up when they go into the office. Read: they want privacy in the office when they do go into work. Open office space need not apply anymore.
Having said that, as you look to your organization’s post-pandemic future, the decision to use a hybrid virtual model should consider more than what workers want. It should consider the pros and cons of splitting work between two places.
We cover those next.
The pros and cons of a virtual workforce
Simply put: implementing a hybrid work model is a smart business decision. Why? We dug into the research to find out.
The benefits of a hybrid work model
A combination work model has shown to increase productivity. U.S. and international surveys have found that those splitting their time between home and office seem to be more deliberate with how they work. This leads to:
- Better awareness of how employees use their time,
- Less wasted hours on unimportant or menial tasks,
- Better communication between teammates about what each is working on,
- Stronger teamwork and performance,
- Access to talent no matter where they live,
- Lower costs,
- Office facetime helps to build and keep company rapport and offers more opportunities for collaboration, and
- Overall higher job satisfaction for your team.
Of course, with any new work model there are bound to be drawbacks. The same is true for a hybrid work model.
The drawbacks of hybrid workforce
As you work to balance in-office with at-home work at your organisation, keep in mind the downsides of the working model:
- Loneliness: Weigh the risks of teammates working on their own
- Anxiety: When you do ask employees to go into the office, put their minds at ease by ensuring a healthy work environment.
- Boredom: Keep work meaningful. This will go a long way to preventing boredom and to keeping your team motivated.
- Fairness: Who works remotely and when should be just. Be fair when deciding how and where to deploy your team.
- Distractions: Those that don’t exist at the office, like children, spouses, and laundry!
- Overwork: It can be harder to unplug when working from home
Above and beyond wanting to balance where they work, employees also want to balance how they work. Which brings us to the second thing workers want for the future of work: work-life balance.
No. 2. Offer work-life balance
A strong employee value proposition (EVP) should include more than opportunities to work remotely and pay increases. The latter is especially becoming more and more difficult to offer as organizations struggle to keep up with inflation and high competition for great talent.
Work-life balance can offer employers the competitive edge they need when putting together their EVP. Think:
- Reduced work hours, like a 4-day work week,
- Get rid of the 9-5,
- Unlimited sick days and personal time,
- The flexibility for employees to design their own schedules around child and other family commitments, and
- Make it company policy to not send company email on weeknights or weekends.
People surveyed even said they’d be willing to take a pay cut for more work-life balance.
No. 3. Make communication transparency and honest
One side effect of the move to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic was a breakdown in communication. No longer were team members able to simply stroll down the hall to their colleagues desk to have a conversation about something.
It’s not a surprise then that the third thing workers want from their employers is for them to develop and maintain relationships with them through improved communications.
Here are 5 ways to increase your team communications:
- Have honest 1-on-1 conversations with employees. These can come as informal, regular meetings with team members.
- Have a clear corporate vision and communicate it! Communications could include details about future plans for the company or even uncertainty about a particular initiative.
- Be honest about the company’s needs. A working relationship is like any other; communicate your needs and expectations and watch as your team steps up to meet them.
- Make team members feel included in decision making. For example, brainstorm with them about changes to work arrangements.
- Increase the frequency of communications. The more detailed and frequent the updates, the better.
Employers who prioritise better conversations with their employees will see the benefits. Curious to know what those are? Read on.
The upside to improved workplace communications
By increasing organizational communication and sharing more, whether in the form of informal chats or company-wide meetings, can offer the following to employers:
- A boost to employee morale and productivity,
- Reduced employee anxiety and burnout,
- Increase trust between managers and team members, and
- A better feel for what motivates their employees and what they need to succeed.
Gone are the days when personal lives were left at home. Now employees’ homes are their workspaces! This offers companies an opportunity to better get to know their employees and, in turn, build a stronger, more tight knit team.
No. 4: Prioritize competitive salaries and benefits
With climbing inflation and rising costs on everything from food to gas, employees are looking to companies to boost their compensation.
Employer-benefits play into salary considerations as well. Sick time, short- and long-term disability, life insurance, and prescription medication coverage are important to workers post-pandemic. People want to be able to pay their bills, yes, but they also want to know their families are protected in the event of an unexpected health crisis.
The talent shortage and what this means for wages
Talent is at risk. With the changing post-pandemic work landscape, employees have said they wouldn’t hesitate to change jobs if the one they had didn’t offer them what they need to take care of themselves and their families.
Companies therefore need to take salary into consideration if they want to keep talented people.
Of course, a person’s decision to move on from a role depends on more than salary. It also depends on the three factors mentioned up until this point, namely a hybrid work model, work-life balance, and better communication.
The fifth and final factor, health and well-being, also needs to be taken into consideration; we’ll cover it next.
No. 5. Build health & well-being into everything
Great workplaces have always supported employee health and wellbeing. Now, it’s not considered a perk to do so, it’s considered a must-have by employees.
Here are four ways employers can do more for their team members well-being:
- Focus on worker mental health, whether by offering wellness days or additional mental health benefits.
- Lead with empathy. Employees are people, after all, not machines. They’ll have bad days and times where they need extra support and understanding.
- Be sensitive to and know the signs of trauma and burnout.
- Show compassion during times of stress.
- Talk about caregiving. By talking to your team more about their lives outside of work, you’ll get a better understanding of their personal obligations, like caring for an ailing parent.
How companies can make the future of work easier on employees
We hope we’ve shed some light on what employees need out of their employees as they navigate a post-pandemic workplace. From better communication to work-from-home options, the theme of workers’ wish lists revolves around a more connected, more humane, more flexible workplace.
If COVID-19 has taught us anything in the past two years, it’s that the right team is adaptable, resilient, able, and willing to go with the flow—so long as the companies they work for take care of their wellbeing along the way.
At BPGS, we help companies do exactly that every day of the year.
The Future of Work Should Include Offering Your Employees A Group Benefits Plan
Extended health care is something many employees think should be covered by their benefits plan.
At BPGS, we offer Chamber of Commerce Group Benefits, one of Alberta’s most comprehensive and affordable small business group benefits plans.
BPGS has made a business out of helping small business teams stay healthy, productive, and happy—let us help do the same for yours.
A BPGS Group Benefits Advisor would be happy to talk with you about your small business. Together, we can create a health insurance plan that works for your team and your bottom line.
Take better care of employees—they deserve it. Contact BP Group Solutions today.