- 22 May 2023
- Posted by: M-author
- Category: Workplace
The future of work is full of uncertainty, so how can employers prepare workforces and workspaces to drive long-term productivity and sustainability? In this article, we explore work cultures, employee experience and adapting to change.
Realign the Workplace
The pandemic forced rapid transformation. In the majority of industries, quick action was taken to equip and enable workers to continue in their roles. Short-term decisions were made.
The challenge has been that this wasn’t a short-term blip in the normal ways of working. As the months rolled on, it became evident that new approaches had benefits. Hybrid working and flexible hours are workable and opinions have shifted.
Post-pandemic, many employers want to bring their staff back into the office. However, employees now expect a greater say in how, when and where they carry out their roles. So, how can we realign thinking and balance employee experience with organisational agility?
Redefine Workplace Structures
It’s clear that, in most industries, things have changed for good. The policies, processes and work culture that applied pre-pandemic are no longer relevant. Equally, the short-term measures that were implemented in haste aren’t sufficient to drive the business forward. To be equipped for the future of work, we need a new structure that clearly defines new working practices.
It’s time for employers to go back to the drawing board and consider:
- What does the organisation need to be sufficiently adaptable and innovative to retain competitive advantage?
- What skills, technology and work environments are required to meet these needs?
- How can you attract talent, stakeholders and investment?
- What changes are needed in your workplace culture, policies and procedures to balance employee experiences with organisational agility?
This redefining of the workplace structure will take place as employers negotiate ever-increasing costs, environmental impacts, a greater need for diversity and inclusion and a national skills shortage. As such, every decision has to contribute to organisational values and goals.
Of the many aspects that need to be addressed, my focus is on the human factors; selecting the right talent, employee experience and the relevance of the workplace to employees and employers.
Selecting & Developing the Best Employees
Selection processes are one of the many things that need to change. Fixed roles and requirements can present barriers to those with the skills, aptitude and attitude to adapt, innovate and drive success. There are growing moves towards assessment tools in selection processes, as these help to identify personalities and potential.
Then for new and existing employees, it is all about identifying, developing and utilising strengths. Who is best able to take on the various elements of a project? Irrespective of the role they were hired for, who is a natural leader or creative innovator and how can that talent be harnessed?
Focus on Employee Experience
In recent years, we’ve seen a growing focus on customer experience (CX) and future of work thinking also encourages employers to focus on employee experience (EX).
Employee turnover has increased since the pandemic and recruitment is an expensive and time-consuming process, so there is a need to have a strategy in place that encourages employee retention. As with CX, this starts by gathering data and feedback to understand the human drivers.
Pay and rewards are important, especially in the current economy, but there will be other drivers. Do the organisational values and ethics, the work culture or career advancement opportunities inspire loyalty in your team? Do your employees benefit from advanced technology, empowering managers or favourable work conditions? Is well-being, location, flexible hours or brand reputation preventing them from job jumping?
Is the Office Redundant?
One consideration might be whether the office is now redundant. With business rates and energy costs draining resources, is there any benefit to bringing staff into a physical workplace?
In an EY Work Reimagined Survey*, 80% of employees wanted to work remotely at least 2 days per week, whilst 22% of employers wanted the team back in the office full-time. So, what role does the office play?
Bringing the workforce together is viewed as positive for collaboration, cohesion and consistency. In addition, employees benefit from social interaction and learning from or with colleagues. It’s easier to ask questions, discuss a point and get reassurance when you are sitting with other team members. This can satisfy many of the psychological needs of the workforce.
A physical workplace can build a sense of unity and a greater identity with the brand. What’s more, it is easier for proactive managers to engage with employees that are physically present, to monitor progress and address issues.
However, remote working also has its advantages for both employees and employers. There is scope to work for international companies or attract talent from around the globe. Positions are opened up to those with disabilities that struggle with accessibility. In addition, flexibility in working hours is attractive to those with care responsibilities or those working alongside studies. Collectively, these expand the talent pool and opportunities.
Whether the office is necessary will depend on the organisation. As flexibility is favoured by employees, it is important to consider how this might work. Then prepare a hybrid working strategy to clarify expectations.
A Fresh Approach to the Workplace, Workforce & Work Culture
In summary, the pandemic caused a shift in attitudes and approaches to work and things will not go back to how they were before. The short-term changes to working practices served their purpose, but we now need to implement long-term strategies. This means a fresh approach to where employees work and how that is managed, skills over job roles and a work culture that helps attract and retain talent.