For all the upheaval it has brought, the global crisis has done something positive for employers – it has forced every player, from the keen and dynamic to the hesitant and unprogressive, to step on the modernization gas pedal.
The challenge facing business leaders in 2022 is not if they will move forward into the new workplace dynamic (like it or not, the future has arrived), but how to manage the moving parts of their organizations to be successful despite the uncertainties.
“At first this rapidly emerging new world was being called a ‘new normal,’ which was never particularly compelling or accurate,” said Dr. Chris Mullen, executive director at The Workforce Institute at UKG. “In fact, what we have is a ‘next normal.’ Among our main considerations are the challenges brought by working, collaborating, and learning online, often with great distances between us, and working toward an inclusive and resilient workplace.”
The Well-Being Factor
Before the global crisis, some organizations felt that if they were offering perks like game rooms, nap pods and unlimited refreshments, they were doing right by their people and ensuring their well-being. Since early 2020, however, things have changed. Isolation, technological challenges, and issues with managing workloads and keeping home and work life separate have brought many employees to the brink of burnout.
Download the free UKG whitepaper “What’s Next: Life-work Technology”
Smart employers have realized that a job is not “just a job,” but a connection opportunity. “Well-being can come from many things,” said Mullen, “but what’s always in the mix are opportunities to grow and build skills, to connect with others, and to make a positive impact on the world. In 2022, an organization that doesn’t get that misses the point.”
The Skills Factor
As revealed in the 2022 Microsoft Work Index study, 52 per cent of Millennials and Gen Zs in Canada said they would think about leaving or switching their jobs in the next 12 months. Life enjoyment (specifically, the prevention thereof) was a factor, but people are also motivated to stay at companies where they feel valued and that they can grow.
Some forward-thinking organizations are attempting to address the needs of today’s skilled workers by taking an active role in their development. Digital automation and energy management company Schneider Electric went so far as to create the Open Talent Market (OTM), which is an internal talent mobility platform that matches employees to new part-time and full-time roles as well as stretch assignments and mentoring engagements.
“Companies can no longer leave anything to chance when it comes to retaining talent,” said Mullen. “In a recent Bank of Canada survey, almost 20% of Canadian workers said they expected to quit their current job in the next 12 months. That’s up considerably from pre-pandemic norms, and it should have every business leader taking notice – and taking decisive steps toward building a work environment that people love.”
The People/Tech Factor
The pandemic forced companies to up their remote office game. From a technological perspective the work continues to ensure that people have what they need, whether at home or back in the office part- or full-time, to be productive. But a key point, often overlooked, is how outdated software and related technologies for HR, payroll, time tracking, recruiting, and reporting can affect employees’ life-work journey.
Many companies in 2022 still have siloed systems that don’t connect or share efficiently with each other. Technology, far from being an enabling and humanizing force, has the effect of hindering proactivity and making people feel, not like an individual or “valued member of the team”, but as a resource or a number.
Organizations leading the pack are using people-centric tools and technologies.
“They’re killing two birds with one stone,” said Mullen. “They’re using unified solutions that help them be more fluid, more adaptable, and more resilient – critically important at a time of great flux. And these technologies are people-first: they accommodate people’s life-work journey, while helping to make their organizations highly desirable work destinations that also benefit from improved productivity.”
Read more about the life-work journey in “What’s Next: Life-work Technology”