What matters to today’s workforce?
Today’s workforce has changed the way work is defined. In short, people want to work differently. Flexibility, mobility, purpose, and autonomy are top priorities in the world today. It’s not just about where people want to work, it’s also about why, what, when and how.
Flexibility and freedom
It’s not a surprise that remote opportunities are still at the top of the list of workforce demands. People have become comfortable in a virtual environment, and most aren’t ready to give that up. Now, many virtual workers are ready to cut the cord to their brick-and-mortar locations for good, an interesting concept that could impact the looming back-to-office plans enterprises are considering.
According to Pew Research, 76% of people who work from home are doing so because that is their preference, even though they have access to office space. In the same survey, 17% of respondents said they work from home because they moved away from their brick-and-mortar location. Upwork recently surveyed 23,000 U.S. workers and found that 9.3% of people are planning to move out because they are working virtually, and according to Harvard Business Review, executives estimate that 83% of workers could move to more rural places if they have the ability to continue working from home.
Flexibility doesn’t stop there. As workers focus on where they are most productive, they are also taking a hard look at when they are productive. For many, the 8 to 5 workday is an outdated model that doesn’t match the varying demands of people’s lives. This work style leaves little room for exploring passions, taking care of family members and finding balance for mental health. True flexibility isn’t “full-time” or “part-time,” it’s working “Right-Time.”
Communication and transparency
In the last few weeks, many organizations have announced their back-to-office or hybrid plans. However, there is a glaring disconnect between executives and their teams. In a recent survey, only 17% of workers desire going back to the office every day, compared to 44% of executives. This jarring difference in preference may encourage workers to push back against their employers, or join the Great Resignation and find a job that offers them more flexibility. A growing number of people – to the tune of about 10 million in February – have turned to self-employment to find the flexibility they need in their lives, where they determine what, when, and where they provide services to their clients.
Organizations could avoid or minimize attrition with active listening, transparency and action. In many cases, people just want to have a voice, and have their voice heard. The Workforce Institute at UKG and Workplace Intelligence found that 74% of workers say they are more effective at their job when they feel heard by their organization, though 86% feel people are not heard fairly.
In search of Meaningful work
The pandemic has impacted what we value in our lives. Some picked up a new hobby, began volunteering at a local organization, or just prioritized family time. Gartner describes this as, “The Great Reflection.” Gartner research shows that people are looking inward, evaluating how purpose and value fits into their personal and professional lives. In a survey of more than 3,500 workers, 65% said the pandemic has made them rethink where work should fit into their lives. More than half of respondents are now questioning the purpose of their day-to-day jobs.
People want to feel valued at work, they want to make a positive impact on others. Purpose-driven companies must integrate their mission throughout the organization, living their values from the inside out.