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Human Resources

Employees and employers divided on success of hybrid work

Health Industry Hub | January 18, 2023 |

Human Resources: Months into hybrid work and not everyone agrees on how it’s going. Recent data points to three critical learnings for leaders to help employees and organisations thrive.

Employees have embraced flexible work and its benefits and are rejecting a return to full-time office culture. At the same time, some leaders yearn for the pre-pandemic office life of chatter and human connection. The complexities widen when you add rising inflation, shrinking budgets and a talent marketplace that remains incredibly tight.

A survey of 20,000 people in 11 countries, including Australia, revealed three key findings on hybrid work.

Managers must beat productivity paranoia

85% of leaders say the shift to hybrid work has made it challenging to have confidence that employees are being productive. The disconnect between how much people say they are working and how much leaders think they are working is stark.

People are working more than ever, while leaders – already worried by signals of macroeconomic decline – are questioning if their employees are being productive.

The majority of Australian employees (85%) report that they are productive at work as the number of hours worked and the number of meetings per week continue to climb.

Many leaders and managers are missing the old visual cues of what it means to be productive because they can’t “see” who is hard at work by walking down the hall or past the conference room. Productivity paranoia risks making hybrid work unsustainable. Leaders need to pivot from worrying about whether their people are working enough to helping them focus on the work that’s most important.

Sixty-two percent (62%) of Australian employees and 66% of managers report that they’re already burned out at work, so prioritisation must go beyond simply reordering an overflowing to-do list. Leaders need to create clarity and purpose for their people, aligning work with the company mission and team goals. And defining what work doesn’t matter is just as important as defining what does – in a world where everything is important, nothing is.

People come in for each other

In Australia, 77% of employees and 80% of business decision makers say they need a better reason to go into the office than just company expectations.

The return to the office has been a struggle at many organisations – with some employers rolling back
plans after one-size-fits-all policies failed to generate a great return.

So how can leaders inspire people to prioritise in-person time together? The data shows that people come in for each other to recapture what they miss: the social connection of being with other people.

Connecting with colleagues is a key motivation for working in person. In fact, 83% of Australian employees would be motivated by the promise of socialising with co-workers and rebuilding team bonds. Employees also report that they would go to the office more frequently if they knew their direct team members would be there (78%) or if their work friends were there (78%).

Younger generations are particularly looking to connect with senior leadership (78% of Gen Z and Millennials vs. 72% Gen X and older) and their direct managers in person (80% Gen Z and Millennials vs. 76% Gen X and older). Gen Z is also particularly motivated by working in person to see their work friends (79% vs. 68% of Gen X and older).

Clear connection between learning and retention

In Australia, 80% of employees say they’d stay at their company longer if they could benefit more from learning and development support. Unfortunately, 69% of employees believe that the best way for them to develop their skills is to change companies, highlighting a clear gap between learning and employee retention.

In a tight labour market, the best leaders will prioritise learning and development to help both people and the business grow.

According to LinkedIn, the skill sets for jobs have changed by approximately 25% since 2015. And by 2027, this number is expected to double. But many employees don’t have the current skills they need, let alone ones for the future.

Employees consider opportunities to learn and grow as the #1 driver of great work culture so leaders and manager need to shift their mindset to create an internal talent marketplace where people can grow their skills, build their careers, and find purpose while helping the organisation thrive.

The workplace and workforce changes resulting from the pandemic are not temporary. Flexibility and hybrid work are here to stay and 2019 leadership practices simply won’t meet the moment for a digitally connected, distributed workforce.

Leaders who focus on clarity, social capital, and career growth can realise both the promise of hybrid work and the full potential of their greatest asset: their people.

Now more than ever, positive business outcomes depend on positive people outcomes.

In reimagining healthcare across the entire patient journey, Health Industry HubTM is the only one-stop-hub bringing the diversity of Pharma, MedTech, Diagnostics & Biotech sectors together to inspire meaningful change.

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