Change is nothing new. It’s one of the only constants in life.
But the change we’ve experienced as a result of COVID-19 is on a scale never seen before. The impact feels deeper and more profound. It has stirred a myriad of emotions within all of us. When it comes to work, the pandemic has highlighted weaknesses and vulnerabilities, prompting us to question the status quo.
We no longer view life through the same pre-pandemic lens.
Almost two years down the line, the COVID-19 crisis continues to pose all kinds of new changes and challenges for organisations. Relentless remote working has taken its toll. Workers feel disconnected, processes are up in the air, and digital tools can only do so much to prop up productivity.
With our 2021: Digital Etiquette Report revealing an astonishing 35% of workers are actively searching for a new job, let’s dig deeper to find out why.
Tackling the great reprioritisation
Relentless change is forcing us to reflect on what really matters. It’s also pushing us to resist returning to the status quo - to how things used to be before the pandemic.
So, what can HR leaders do now to drive deeper engagement and recruit, retain, and reinvigorate their workforce?
Digital discontent is taking over
We already know that 35% of our respondents are actively looking for a new job. Shockingly, 20% of all of our survey respondents are looking for a new job specifically because of how their organisation responded to the pandemic. And when asked what leadership could improve, the top answer from respondents was: “More empathy for what employees have been through during COVID.”
A further 19% feel leaders are out of touch with reality and need to understand better how work has changed, while 25% feel that their morale is lower than it was pre-pandemic.
Our findings also show that there is no clear-cut answer to where and how people want to work post-pandemic. Of the 62% who were forced to start working remotely due to COVID-19, 46% now favour a hybrid model, 39% want a return to the office full-time, and just 15% want to continue working fully remotely.
It’s clear that the next few months will be challenging for HR leaders. Not only will they need to ‘sell’ their employer brand to a sea of job seekers, they’ll also need to focus on building a culture that helps to retain and reconnect their existing workforce during a time of immense change and uncertainty.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
As constant change becomes our new normal, it’s time for HR leaders to embrace uncertainty and acknowledge they can’t always have all the answers.
Accepting this reality means that as the path ahead twists and turns, HR leaders can adapt. This new outlook will give them the agility and breathing space to deal with change as it comes.
At a time when the weight of the world weighs heavy on our shoulders, HR leaders can’t solve every problem. However, they can put strong foundations in place to ease some of the issues and challenges facing people in their organisation.
Do what’s right, not what’s easy
Happy workers = happy workplaces, right?
The pursuit of happiness at work can be a fruitless exercise for HR leaders, because happiness means different things to different people. As the old adage goes: “you can’t please everyone all of the time”.
Instead, why not focus time and energy into doing the right thing to create a positive working environment?
This starts with the recruitment process. After all, hiring the right people helps to create the right culture.
Treat candidates in the same way you’d treat an existing colleague. Show them respect, and keep lines of communication open. Empower your managers to ask the right questions during the interview process. When you ask candidates how they work best, you lay the foundations for a successful two-way relationship.
And what about your existing workforce?
Start by helping them to feel supported, trusted, and recognised. Show that you genuinely care about their wellbeing - don’t just say it. According to our 2021: Digital Etiquette Report, 62% of respondents felt that their organisation cared about their wellbeing during the pandemic. That leaves 38% who felt otherwise.
In a world where more people than ever are looking for meaning and purpose in their work, it’s also important for workers to feel like their voice is heard. Our survey results reveal that 73% of respondents felt like their voice was heard in their team, in contrast to only 58% who felt their voice was heard within their company.
COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the world of work. This means workers’ needs have changed too.
When we asked what would make workers love their job more in the post-COVID world, it isn’t surprising that “a paycheck to match their skills and experience” topped the list.
But our results make it clear that workers also value much more than just financial rewards, including:
- The ability to work different hours to the traditional 9-5 (28%)
- Having a choice over where they work (24%)
- Being trusted by their manager (22%)
Choice is the future of work
If you are a HR leader in this time of colossal change, the best thing you can give your workforce is a choice, and a voice.
Where do your people want to work? How do they want to work? What can you do now that will help them to succeed in the future?
These are the questions you should be asking your candidates and your existing workforce.
By encouraging a culture of trust, recognition, and choice, HR leaders can start to engage and empower their workforce, and lay the groundwork for future success.
And maybe, turn the great reprioritisation into the great priority reset.
Want more insights into how culture is changing? You can explore more findings in our 2021: Digital Etiquette Report.