Employers are struggling, as employees are walking away from their jobs in record numbers.
The economic measurement of this phenomenon, which is referred to by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as the “quits rate,” is surging. Each month, millions of workers are resigning, quitting, walking out or just not showing up. Many are quick to blame the pandemic. And while that certainly didn’t help, it’s not the whole story.
The pandemic caused a shift in where and how people work, which led to employees having more time for self-reflection and less time commuting. It seems to have shined a bright light on what employees find important, fulfilling and meaningful.
If you’re seeing an uptick in resignation letters in your inbox, it’s time to turn the mirror around and reflect on what’s happening within your own organization. Recently, NTT Data Services surveyed business and IT leaders across industries and asked them about where they’re focusing their attention and investments to determine the future of their business. While 66% cited customer satisfaction as a top focus, only 16% identified employee engagement and retention. The notion that an organization can successfully grow customer satisfaction but not employee satisfaction is, in many ways, the root of the problem.
The onus is on leadership to make employee-centric changes to move their business forward. Also compounding the challenges from the rising resignation rate is the current IT talent shortage. A recent Gartner survey cited the current lack of talent as the top barrier for implementing emerging technology like machine learning, the internet of things, digital workplace and more. Those emerging technologies will be key to future financial performance and business resiliency, but not if implementation is continually stalled due to turnover rate and lack of skilled talent.
With these workforce challenges, plus the rapidly changing market pressures created by the pandemic, it isn’t the time to be rigid. Employees need flexibility, and leaders need to invest in the technology and strategies that will support them. If it is a fear of lost productivity that is pushing some to a return to a strict in-office policy, NTT’s survey provided insights. A small group (6%) reported above average financial performance, as well as a 56% growth in overall productivity.
What was this elite group doing differently compared to the others? Focusing on customer satisfaction and employee culture.
While each organization will have to strike a balance between in-person and remote work, it is time to start acknowledging the connection between employee needs and organizational performance. In the United Kingdom, some are testing a four-day work week. Others are embracing the hybrid work model. Gartner is projecting that while people are returning to offices, only 53% will work full time in the office in 2022, and that number will decrease going forward. The vast majority of the workforce will be hybrid, using one or more offices as necessary, but overall allowing the flexibility and autonomy that employees seek.
The hybrid-work model will likely be a natural segue to work hub models, physical spaces where companies can consolidate employees, customers and clients in geographic areas.
These business hubs are an ideal solution to the location and office conundrum. Because so many employers are adopting a remote-first working model, where remote work is the standard with just a few days a week or month in the office, creating satellite workspaces that offer flexibility, technology and socialization is a benefit for employers and employees. Hub locations will provide an engaging atmosphere for employees to collaborate with colleagues, and access to clients and vendors but also keep the door of flexibility open.
Workplace technology transformation will be a critical component of whatever work model employers choose. Employees are looking for the same intuitive workflow and ease of use in their work activities as they have in their own lives. Plus, a user-centric workplace is essential for employee productivity and satisfaction.
No matter where or how employees work, there shouldn’t be technology barriers. Information sharing, collaboration and personalization can be powered by automation and AI-based analytics. Companies can deliver these personalized, frictionless, and secure user experiences to their employees as they do for their customers. Helping employees collaborate and grow benefits their desire to accelerate their careers and aide in innovative new services or products that will keep their employers competitive.
As with any type of disruptive phase, companies that reinvent themselves — focusing on technology that allows them to adapt to market pressure and customer needs — will be the clear winners. But just as important is investing in your employees and developing strategies to retain and maximize the talents of your team.