These are the new rules of work

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Written by Ivan Harding on 22 September 2021 in Features
Features

Ivan Harding explores the future of the employee experience.

Over the past year and a half, we have seen monumental changes to the work landscape. The pandemic threw up many questions about the future of work: Will it be remote forever? Will employees be forced back into the office full time?

For the majority of businesses, it seems that they’ve landed somewhere in the middle and hybrid working is here to stay. Occupancy is already on the rise in co-working spaces that offer businesses and their employees flexibility when it comes to office attendance.

Despite businesses appearing to be finally finding their rhythm in the world of hybrid working, one survey performed by Prudential found that one in four workers plan to find a job in a different company after the pandemic.

Now that the appetite for virtual drinks and morning zoom yoga has faded, it’s important that companies continue to show they care for their employees and work to forge a new employee experience that’s suited for hybrid working, as it’s likely some of the workforce will leave if not.

New technologies

Pre-pandemic most businesses already had between 6-15 HR systems in place. However, as soon as the directive came to ‘stay at home’ the knee-jerk reaction from companies around the globe was to throw more technology at pandemic-related challenges, and soon the HR tech landscape looked even more fragmented – introducing new tools that employees needed to navigate.

Employees are more empowered than they were pre-pandemic and employers need to support this change by enabling them to make decisions about how and when they choose to work

In many instances, this created more problems, with these technologies often unable to ‘talk’ to each other and taking time and funds to understand and implement.

This represents more than just a technology problem. It’s the absence of a robust digital employee experience strategy and it’s clear that employee needs are not driving investment decisions; hence the reason that so many are looking to work for organisations that have demonstrated that employees are the priority.

The key to fixing this will be simplification. Putting all the systems in one, easy to navigate platform, and many are looking to workforce experience layers as the answer.

Agile, personalised and cloud-based HR technology that encompasses all existing platforms and HR services, so employees waste no time on simple tasks, such as requesting holidays, getting access to tutorials or filling out required forms.

Making the digital HR experience as smooth as possible will allow employees to spend more time on their roles and weigh up their work-life balance. Plus, increased visibility within these systems, means that businesses themselves can see the needs of their employees’ laid out right in front of them. They can then use this information to further improve their internal practices.

Switching off in a hybrid world

With the lines between home life and work-life becoming blurring every day and technology now touching every part of an employee’s life, another step that needs to be taken by employers is to allow and encourage their employees to switch off. The EU has issued statements on ‘The Right to Disconnect’ for workers.

This means that even though workers can now work from home, they should still be able to distance themselves from their work and not be obligated to be online outside their contracted working hours. The reality of ignoring this issue for some organisations will perpetuate the employee retention issue.

This will enable fair rights for those who approach hybrid work differently. So, while finding this balance may be tricky at first, ultimately it will be rewarding, both in the sense of boosting the morale of current employees and also in attracting new talent to the company.

The secret to putting this in action successfully will be setting boundaries, both within HR teams but also allowing employees to do so. Empowering them to feel they can speak up about what makes them comfortable, will make them feel as at ease as possible within their new working world.

This needs to be for switching off and stopping work, but also when it comes to their new commute. Workers need to be supported to make decisions about what makes them safe, such as not commuting within rush hours or keeping masks on within office spaces. If employers don’t do this, the burden and stress may increase to the point where workers decide to leave the company.

What to do?

Employees are more empowered than they were pre-pandemic and employers need to support this change by enabling them to make decisions about how and when they choose to work.

This starts with creating simplicity within their HR technology landscape so employees can feel connected to their organisation when they’re not in the workplace and feel confident in accessing the HR services and tools they need to help them excel within their roles.

The new rules of work are still being defined and are not as binary as they were in the pre-pandemic era, but it’s critical that businesses adapt, or risk alienating and potentially losing their workers. But, hand them the right tools for success, and employees will have an easier and more accessible HR experience than before the pandemic.

 

About the author

Ivan Harding is Co-Founder and CEO of Applaud.

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