As COVID-19 vaccines become more accessible, many are looking forward to a return to “normalcy.” While it may be tempting to go back to the way things were pre-pandemic, it’s important for companies to reflect on how this time has impacted the future of the employee experience.
As professionals have adapted to new ways of working, collaborating, and communicating, they have discovered many new benefits and improvements from these changes—including greater flexibility, work-life balance, and autonomy. These are all things that employees have demanded for decades, but have not been able to achieve until recently. The events of the past year have only accelerated the inevitable.
Now that the door is open, employee expectations have shifted drastically—and it’s unlikely that they’ll ever go back. If the experience you offer cannot meet these expectations, employees will eventually look for work elsewhere. You can continue to engage and retain top talent by aligning on these evolving employee expectations:
Offering remote work opportunities in the long-term is a benefit that should not be overlooked as we reach a sense of normalcy. Employees are not only loving the flexibility to work from home, but they are proven to be equally or more productive. Yet, 57% of employers responding to The Execu|Search Group’s 2021 Hiring Outlook stated they have no long-term plan for remote roles.
With most professionals demanding at least a partially remote work situation moving forward, you’ll find yourself at a disadvantage if you cannot meet these employee expectations. This not only includes offering remote opportunities, but also the tech that allows for a seamless transition. You’ll also miss out on a variety of benefits of remote work for your business, from reduced costs to access to a wider talent pool.
In addition to wanting more say in where they work, today’s employees want more flexibility in when they work. It’s become apparent that professionals can remain focused and productive when not in the office. Feeling they’ve earned their employers’ trust, employees are seeking a culture driven by results—not hours. You can meet these employee expectations by giving staff more autonomy over their schedules and/or offering a variety of flexible scheduling options.
Today’s employees are focused on building their own career resiliency. If they feel their skillset has become stagnant or their employer isn’t providing them with new opportunities for career development, they will move on. These employee expectations have been amplified by the pandemic. In the face of uncertainty, they are doing all they can to ensure their professional marketability. As a result, offering professional and skills development should always remain a priority—this is especially true when you do not have the budget for raises or promotions.
A crisis can trigger a range of emotions from your staff, especially if they feel a lost sense of security and normalcy. During these times, employees may be feeling heightened anxiety around the state of their jobs and the health of their families. This is where compassionate, approachable, and transparent leadership can make all the difference.
By tuning in to your own feelings, you can help staff manage their own and set the right tone for a successful recovery. Remember, these times may be temporary—but your response will always be remembered.
With remote work on the rise, creating a connected workplace is more important than ever. Consider all the normal office interactions—morning updates, weekly brainstorms, group activities, office chatter, etc.—that happen organically. This is not the reality for remote employees. With team members scattered across different locations, employees expect their leaders to help them feel connected as a team and to the company as a whole. There are a variety of ways you can align with these employee expectations, from implementing the right virtual communication tools to establishing company-wide initiatives.
Larry Dolinko is the CEO of The Execu|Search Group, a leading recruitment, contract staffing, and workforce solutions firm. Larry leverages his experience in client management, relationship building, negotiation, and sales to oversee strategic growth for the firm, including business development and employee engagement.
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