Flexibility Is the Name of the “Game”

Post-pandemic, companies are going to have to lure employees back into the office.

Post-COVID, companies are finding it even harder to attract and retain talent. The challenge is magnified because of the profound shift taking place between employers and employees.

“For the first time in a generation, employees have the upper hand… No matter how long this shift toward workers lasts, or how powerful a force it turns out to be, it puts the employee in the position that matters most: the driver’s seat,” said Neil Irwin recently in The New York Times.

In “Are We All Going Hybrid?” on Forbes.com, John Baldoni explains why companies are going to have to lure employees back into the workplace. According to a new study from edtech learning firm MindEdge Learning:

• 59 percent of those surveyed who have yet to return to work say they are concerned about having to go back before they feel safe.

• Nearly half indicated their companies would institute a hybrid work schedule in 2021.

• Only a quarter of workers want to work in place full time; hybrid workers want to be at their place of work 3.3 days per week.

“Flexibility has become a key driver of job satisfaction and quality of life over the last year,” says Sandra Slager, COO of MindEdge Learning.

TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND

Baldoni agrees that employees are in the driver’s seat right now. As leaders contemplate how to put organizations back together again, he suggests:

  • Ask your people what they want. Conduct surveys and team meetings to discuss options.
  • Determine how you will evaluate talent. Virtual does not mean invisible. Make it clear how you will evaluate, retain, and reward all workers regardless of where they are working.
  • Be prepared to plan again. As we know from the last year-plus, plans change constantly.

ADVICE FOR LEADERS

To learn more, I asked Baldoni about his advice for leaders as they face the future. “We need to understand what we experienced during the pandemic and be more open to how work gets done,” he stressed. “The most important thing leaders can do is ask for input, listen, and respond to what is heard.”

Integrating life with work has been a topic of debate for decades. But the pandemic made us realize employees don’t have to be in an office to get work done. As Irwin concluded, “Employers are becoming much more cognizant that, yes, it’s about money, but it’s also about quality of life.”

Jann E. Freed, Ph.D., is an author, speaker, coach, and leadership development and change management consultant. Her most recent book is “Leading with Wisdom: Sage Advice from 100 Experts” (ATD, 2013). For more information, visit: http://www.JannFreed.com.