As employers strive to adapt and reset expectations for the future, the workplace continues to change in many ways. Regardless of the external factors impacting an organization, the workplace decisions and tools that leaders use to manage employee productivity, engagement and development will continue to shape a company’s employment brand.
Grant Thornton’s May By the Numbers pulse survey raised awareness around some of the fundamental issues that can ensure we thrive in the future of work. Our results identified several areas that employers can consider as they examine their human capital strategies and management practices for the future.
Increased employer focus – With the amount of change that has occurred over the past 12 months, our pulse survey raises two topics that indicate an awareness of the impact that these changes have had on the workforce. When asked whether employers had increased, decreased or made no change in their level of focus on key aspects of the workplace, 62% of reported an increased focus on fostering work/life balance and 56% reported an increase in fostering company culture. On the other hand, nearly a third of participants reported a decreased level of focus on driving recognition or linking rewards to performance. If this trend continues, these areas may elevate risk to employers as we head into a period where retention risks are greatest.
Commitment -- It’s no surprise that for those participants that reported a perceived increase level of focus from their employer on issues related to fostering work/life balance, nearly 86% agreed with the statement “I am highly committed to the organization I work for.” At the same time, a perceived decreased focus on “driving recognition” had a negative impact on commitment. These results continue to reinforce the potential long-term residual effect of furloughs, pay reductions and reduced cash bonuses on engagement and employers’ future challenge to rationalize their compensation programs in an effective and engaging manner.
It is crucial that organizations examine their employee retention strategies on a recurring basis and from a variety of perspectives for the foreseeable future.
- Identify workplace stressors and rewards solutions. When organizations fail to identify workplace stressors or respond with good intentions but the same menu of reward-and-recognition programs, they risk loss of trust and lower levels of employee engagement. For 2021, employers need to review existing workforce programs and human capital governance processes to apply the lessons learned and the patterns that may have emerged from the later phases. These changes can help organize retention strategies around a new foundation.
- Trade-offs and prioritization. In the face of uncertainty and limited resources, a one-size-fits-all strategy often doesn’t work. Employers will begin to address their critical workforce segments and key individual talent by differentiating recognition and rewards, as well as monitoring productivity. This can include more intentional job responsibilities that expand skills and expands an employer’s ability to build a more resilient workforce.
- Employee listening. By making a shift to active listening, employers create the opportunity to achieve operational efficiencies, drive revenue growth, and strengthen brand and customer experience. These tools can have a powerful impact on engagement, especially top performers and critical workforce segments.
Employers have an obligation to reignite the level of trust and long-term performance orientation of their workforce. While planning and performance cycles have not yet returned to pre-COVID timeframes, by creating a new “north star” to reframe the future of work, companies can position their workforce for success and create a meaningful experience for those who can adapt for the future.
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