What will 2021 mean for employers? My prediction for organisations not attuned to their employees needs, is unintended staff turnover. Let me explain why.
2020 has tested everyone in so many obvious and inadvertent ways. For those that kept their jobs, either being grateful or inundated with work was common. Either way, most just put their head down and delivered what was required to support their organisation, team and ultimately their own job security. As the months have rolled on, and we’ve possibly been able to take a moment to ponder “what does this all mean to me?”, it can often beg the question “is this where I need to be?”
Working from home has brought pros and cons for individuals. Less travel time and commuting costs, more time with family, more time for personal life, more focused work, but blurred lines around work and home, unsuitable work environments, disconnection from colleagues and sedentary habits.
For organisations, in spite of some long held fears, output did not fall apart when the world went remote. In many instances it actually increased. I know of organisations that have already cancelled their office lease and embraced remote operations. For other organisations, it’s now a decision as to how their industry best services their customers and employees.
As virus cases have dropped in Australia, the discussion around if and when we should all head back to the office has picked up. Some prominent voices advocate for a return to the office as soon as possible, for the betterment of the economy and the corporate sector. The Productivity Commission has questioned the capacity for creativity and innovation working remotely. I think there may be a few successful tech companies that have an opinion on that thought. Or this one, that threatens urban decay without us all returning to the office.
Working remotely does not suit everyone and, for many businesses, the value of some face-to-face interaction is difficult to replace. But, we’ve now experienced the ‘future of work’ experiment and for many it’s worked.
With the lived experience, employees have come to appreciate what works best for them. If 2020 has afforded employees the flexibility to choose the best mode of working to deliver their work, then that trust and mature working relationship won’t bode well if their work practices become instructive. Whatever has worked – corporate office, local office, home office or a blended approach – what has become obvious is job fulfilment is not just about what we do, but also who we do it with and how we do it.
If employers are not attuned to how their employees prefer to work, and as soon as opportunity allows, return to pre-covid ways, or go full remote without the required management capability, employees will simply look for somewhere that better meets their needs.
Any vacant job posting is currently inundated with applicants. That is partly due to people who are out of work, but there are also a vast number that are dissatisfied with their current employer. If employees are asked to fit a mode that no longer works, they will simply vote with their feet.