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Hybrid, remote work and employee well-being, are amoung the three things, that took centre stage during the height of the pandemic. However, they are not new phenoniums and had been bubbling beneath the surface while we were all rushing around before COVID-19. And, while we inch our way back to business as we know it, redefining norms requires us to answer questions that often cannot be resolved on our own. In short, we will not be going back to the way things were. We are living in the new normal.

Here are 5 things that gained traction since the pandemic:

Mental Health and Social Well-Being:
A recent survey  revealed that younger workers placed a heavy emphasis on mental health and well-being and will not work for a company who does not take it seriously.  That’s a stark difference from the previous generation. The pandemic and ensuing lockdowns added pressure on employees, and tested their wellbeing and private lives. The trend towards more purpose-driven jobs and companies was well underway before Covid, with millennials in particular known for prioritising purpose over pay cheques.

The Rise in Remote Work
COVID-19 forced employees and businesses to shift to working remotely using multiple platforms, such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, Google Hangouts and Skype.  The transition to working from home can reduce infrastructure costs by leasing smaller workspaces, and coordinating a workforce across multiple time zones to maximize daily workflow. Moreover, the benefits of work-from-home can be attractive for some employees and may, include increased schedule flexibility and reduced strains with family. And, while this is a preferred option for some employees-others in healthcare, warehousing and logistics, retail and some other industries don’t have the luxury of working from home.

Labour Shortage:
Companies have been grappling with labour shortages for most of 2021. And while, some have argued, that the pandemic relief doled-out by governments were the real reason for labour shortages, the persistent labour shortage, tells a different story. After being laid-off or furloughed, many employees have decided they do not want to go back to the way things were. In fact, employees are seeking more flexibility, more happiness and rethinking what work means to them and how they are valued. Employers on the other-hand are trying to adapt by offering hiring (cash being one of them) incentives. But will this be enough and a little too late? Only time will tell.

Our Workplaces will Look Different:
With less people coming into the office regularly, companies will likely re-evaluate their real estate needs.  Hiring perks like; beer Fridays, office gyms, dry cleaning pickups, ping pong tables and free snacks have likely lost some of their luster, since many people have been spending more time in their home offices and have fully embraced the concept. Also, when workers are not in the office to actually enjoy them, companies will be forced to re-evaluate these incentives and work culture.

Pandemic-Inspired Union Efforts
Labour turmoil has followed the course of the pandemic. Some grocery, warehousing, meat packers, gig and other low-paid workers deemed “essential” during the pandemic lacked access to employer benefits, like paid sick leave or compensation for working under hazardous conditions. And, this some say, has amplified the public support for unions even more. The pandemic has put a spotlight on workers’ rights issues and accelerated an organizing movement that’s been slowly building in recent years — and with the pandemic, it just reached a breaking point.

So, what does this all mean going forward? No one really knows. In reality, it will likely mean more of the same: We to continue to mask up, get vaccinated, and stay isolated if sick and be adaptable.  And, it will likely not be the normal we want, but it may be a normal we can contend with. We may go to the office a few days a week and/or we will work from home. Finally, we will stay home when we are sick.

The phrase “The Great Resignation was coined by Texas A&M University Professor Anthony C. Klotz coined back in 2020. Now this term is widely used to describe the challenges many businesses, both small and large face with the max exodus of employees. Some experts have anecdotally, opined employees chose to stay home and collect stimulus covid-19 panademic cheques. However, recent surveys, suggest the real reasons, is because many people have decided to make a major shift in their life and focus on what matters most to them during the pandemic. Some of these reasons for quitting their jobs include: family, children education, and work-life balance. In other words, most people decided to leave their old jobs and look for new jobs that align with their new identity and life goals.

In a recent blog Sophia Lee at Blue Board  lays out some of the reasons why so many employees have decided to quit their jobs.

1. Employee burnout rates are through the roof.

Employee burnout is a long-term reaction to stress that usually comes with mental, emotional, and physical side effects. While 42% of employees were already experiencing burnout before the pandemic, that number skyrocketed to 72% a few months into lockdown—largely due to increased anxiety, heavier workloads, and people taking less time off. 

But many employers still aren’t addressing employee burnout in their retention strategies. One in five workers believes their employer doesn’t care about their work-life balance. And they’ve had enough. They’re quitting in droves, looking for companies that care about their wellbeing. Others are staying put—but at a cost to organizations. The lost productivity of an actively disengaged employee is equal to 18% of their annual salary. This means a company of 10,000 employees with an average salary of $50,000 each will lose $60.3 million a year due to employee burnout.

2. Companies aren’t providing the flexibility employees need.

When COVID-19 sent so many people home, employees realized how powerful (and possible) it is to be able to decide where, how, and when they work. Which is why nine in ten employees continue to demand flexibility from their jobs.

Too many organizations have dismissed this shift, and expect people to quietly return to the office. But this will likely result in significant turnover, as 54% of employees are considering leaving their job in this new normal if they’re not afforded some form of flexibility in where and when they work. 

3. Manager training continues to fall short. 

Managers have the most influence on an employee’s job satisfaction, wellbeing, and likelihood to stay at a company. In fact, 57% of employees have left at least one company because of their boss. But being a manager isn’t intuitive. It requires an entirely different set of skills than being an individual contributor, which is why training programs are essential.

In these uncertain times, managers are playing an especially critical role in supporting their employees. Or, at least, they should be. But due to a lack of effective training, many managers aren’t giving employees what they need, causing them to burn out and look for new jobs. 

Managers themselves are frustrated by the lack of support from their employers. They’ve been asked to take on significantly more responsibility without being given additional tools, resources, or guidance. The employee retention numbers reflect the frustration: as of December 2020, the resignation rate for managers was nearly 12% higher than the previous year.

About ATS

ATS offers a broad portfolio of time and attendance solutions that streamlines the collection, calculation, and reporting of employee hours for workforce management and eliminates the manual tasks of payroll preparation, increasing efficiency and reducing errors in corporate payroll departments.

Thousands of organizations across North, Central and South America and Europe- including more than half of the Fortune 500 – use ATS TimeWork OnDemand, Workforce Planning, Employee Scheduling HR and payroll solutions to manage their workforce. ATS cloud services offer rapid deployment, support services, software updates, and enhancements; and consulting and training services.