While employees have their say about where, when, and how they want to work, company leaders are just as busy creating the post-pandemic workplace.
From work anywhere flexibility to technology-driven individual and team augmentation, these are some of the top workforce predictions about how companies can craft the ideal employee experience (EX) for increasingly digitalized, sustainable business models.
Hybrid Work Upheaves Workplace Norms
Conversations about remote versus on-site work erroneously position these decisions as an either/or choice. Forrester data revealed that in Europe, “skilled employees will force employers to grant them greater flexibility – or leave.”
Similarly, Forrester Analyst Sharyn Leaver predicted that 60% of organizations will shift to a hybrid model in 2022, but one-third will fail in their first attempt at anywhere work. It’s not enough to simply announce flexible work anywhere policies. Organizations also have to restructure expectations around meetings, job roles, and promotion opportunities so they no longer reflect face-to-face experiences. And don’t even consider demanding that everyone return to the office. Forrester warns that the 30% of companies expected to mandate fully in-office work will experience monthly employee quit rates as high as 2.5% “until executives feel the pain and finally commit to making hybrid work…work.”
Worker location is a business decision predicated on productivity realities as well as competitive market demands. In a recent Gartner survey, 64% of workers said they would only consider a new position or job if it allowed for flexible hours. In fact, they cited having flexible work hours as the main reason for their increased productivity.
Another major issue is upskilling managers. Gartner analysts predicted that by 2024, 30% of corporate teams will be without a boss due to the agile and hybrid nature of work. They reasoned that agility, by definition, requires “an environment of trust that doesn’t lend itself to traditional hierarchies.” Many managers lack the skills to manage employees in remote or hybrid situations, and only 47% of employees believed their manager capable of leading the team to future success.
“Managers are on the ground every day, coaching and inspiring their people, driving execution, and ensuring transformation efforts are successful,” said Jill Popelka, president of SAP SuccessFactors. “As workplace and business needs continue to shift, we will need strong, people-focused managers leading the way. Their development must be a top priority for organizations and is critical to business success.”
Technology Changes the Employee Experience
As digitalization transforms business models, it also changes how work gets done. IDC analysts said by next year, 60% of G2000 businesses will deploy artificial intelligence (AI)- and machine learning-enabled platforms to support the entire employee life cycle experience from onboarding through retirement.
Digital intelligence will permeate the workplace with profound consequences. IDC predicted that 70% of connected workers in task-based roles will use intelligence embedded in adaptive digital workspaces from anywhere to engage clients and colleagues and drive enterprise productivity by 2023. These analysts said that “companies with cross functional leadership – a digital dream team – will enjoy faster rates of innovation, higher market share gains, and greater operational efficiencies than their contemporaries by 2025.”
Data-driven businesses also need to give employees the right information, recognizing those who apply data across their decision-making. IDC researchers warned that the lack of a “meritocracy-based data culture” will erode trust in management, reducing employee satisfaction and increasing turnover in two-thirds of midsize to large enterprises by 2024, exacerbating skills gaps.
Forrester was most optimistic about the combined value of people and technology. It predicted leading organizations will “unlock the creativity of their employees and surround them with intelligent technologies such as automation and prediction engines that focus on outcomes, not just financial results.” This heralds a new era of transformation featuring “human-centered technology initiatives” that connect customer experience (CX) and EX “to drive competitive advantage and deliver a 3% to 5% net gain in productivity.”
These researchers also predicted a “no more jobs” framework where “employees will become more peripatetic, taking their skills to contribute to project-based work and swarm teams, rather than sitting still in a fixed role…The world of no more jobs employs a dynamic mix of full-time employees, internal and external talent marketplaces, on-demand and contingent labor, and bots.”
Sustainable Recruitment and Business Performance Metrics
As employees raise their voices for corporate accountability across a range of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) topics, leading organizations have no choice but to respond. IDC predicted that 70% of enterprise businesses will have extensively invested in DEI data, tools, and benchmarking by 2024 to define recruitment and human capital strategies. These researchers predicted two-thirds of organizations worldwide will track their DEI performance using ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) metrics and KPIs in the same time frame.
DEI isn’t just about metrics. Instead of focusing on corporate culture and a shared mission during a disruption, like COVID-19, Gartner analysts advised HR to give employees a personal sense of purpose, writing that, “when employees believe that their work is personally relevant, there is a 26% increase in the likelihood of sustained workforce health.”
Follow me @smgaler.
This also appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.