As employees push back on returning pre-pandemic work routines, companies are having to examine their employee experience practices. Following a year in which many people were able to comfortably shift to working from home, many simply don’t want to go back tow commuting and sitting in an office all day.
This is just one factor feeding what has become known as the Great Resignation, but as the pandemic subsides and people step back to look at the lessons learned from it, many are finding themselves wanting a better balance and a bit more independence. With that said, a lot of companies have gone out of their way to provide the flexibility employees needed over the last year and would understandably like to reconnect with their workforces.
What that looks like though, will likely have to be more creative than simply forcing people back into cubicles and shared spaces. It’s something that is top of mind for HR leaders across industries now. We surveyed more than 750 HR professionals for our 2021 State of HR Mid-Year Report, and more than half responded that their top priority was one of the following:
- Employee engagement and experience (25.29%)
- Flexible work culture (14.85%)
- Hybrid workplaces (12.07%)
The COVID Created Experience
Unsurprisingly, most companies invested heavily in tools over the last 15 months that could support a remote workforce. The three most common investments recognized by survey respondents were team chat functions (62.32%), video conferencing tools (60.52%) and virtual collaboration platforms (48.29%).
DOWNLOAD: The State of HR Mid-Year Report 2021
Employees not only adopted these tools, but essentially found ways to become as good if not better than they were before in using them. Now that things are returning to normal, employees find themselves wondering what it might be like to do this when remote work forced due to the pandemic. What might it be like to work from wherever they’d like full time when the world is open?
83% of employers told @PwC that the shift to remote work has been successful for their company – up from 73% last June. Still, they’re more eager for a return to work than employees are.
— Meghan M. Biro ⚡️ (@MeghanMBiro) July 16, 2021
Some may want to use the flexibility to get more out of the company wellness programs that were developed during COVID. The top 5 responses in our survey regarding pandemic era policies that were adopted to better support employees included:
- Flexible work hours (61.01%)
- Hybrid work environments (56.44%)
- Online learning (44.86)
- Wellness programs (40.13%)
- Mental health coaching (32.14%)
When asked what their biggest challenge was in regard to remote workers, respondents felt that productivity monitoring and employee engagement topped the list. In one way, it makes sense that the natural reaction from employers is to get employees back into the office at least part time, but in another, it shows that the lessons they failed to learn during the pandemic were around new ways to manage performance and understanding how experience fuels engagement.
Doing More with Less
To ensure a quality employee experience, investments in technology are inevitable to keep employees connected to each other and the organization. That doesn’t necessarily mean HR is going to see budget increases to make that connectivity a reality.
Half of the respondents to our survey indicated they expected no change in budget whatsoever. For around one-third, an increase in budget was expected and what they intended to do with that money was clearly analyze the impact of the new work model on employees.
When asked what technologies they planned to invest in over the next 6-12 months, the most common answer were analytics, remote work technology and performance management platforms. Without saying it outright, that’s about as clear as employers can make it that they want to collect data via technology and use it monitor how employees are doing and deploy feedback as efficiently as possible.
READ THE FULL REPORT: The State of HR Mid-Year Report 2021
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