Some might say the mindset of the American workforce is in a fragile state. With the COVID pandemic entering year 2, a transition in U.S. governmental leadership and continued financial struggles for many, the environment could be described as challenging. Couple that with an expectation to return to “business normalcy” and you have an extra challenge. In addition, many lower wage workers are thinking about switching jobs or leaving the workforce entirely given the continued stimulus. Many employees who have been given the option to work remotely want to continue in some capacity. COVID-19 has changed many things about employee’s mindset and experts predict there may be no going back to normal, only going forward to a new reality based on a worker-centric business model. Smart employers are taking note and taking action.
Mindset of the American Workforce: Mental Health is a Pressing Business Issue
Life is hard in a pandemic, no matter what your situation. Extroverts who get their energy from others are reeling from isolation. Working parents are exhausted from teaching while trying to maintain their productivity. Employees who have been laid off are fearful about when their financial situation will become stable. The mental demands have drained everyone.
A recent survey by Willis Towers Watson found that 47% of Gen Y and 64% of Gen Z employees report poor mental health. That’s consistent with national figures that count two in five Americans currently struggling with mental health problems or substance abuse.
The employee relations aspect of a situation like this is often overlooked as business owners focus on keeping their doors open and more recently, getting employees back to the physical place of work. Best-in-class employers will appreciate how their team members are feeling, and respond by adhering to four tenants: communicate, educate, comply and mitigate.
Mindset of the American Workforce: Employees are Looking For Greener Pastures
So many employees are disengaged and burned out from working remotely that they may feel the need to call it quits with their current jobs. Nearly half say they feel less connected to their company and about the same number say their company’s culture has eroded during the pandemic. That’s according to a new survey by The Achievers Workforce.
That same report shows that 52% plan on looking for a new job in 2021. With an increased retirement rate and individuals dropping out to care for loved ones, and it all adds up to a tidal wave of turnover.
Losing valued employees is always challenging. There is a silver lining for employers, however. Rather than backfilling jobs with people who have the same skills, you can reevaluate your staffing levels. This might be the opportunity to upgrade your team, say fill positions currently held by two ‘B’ players with one ‘A’ player. You might think about reevaluating processes and investing in technology to handle parts of a job that are easily automated. This might also be the time to consider whether outsourcing certain roles makes the most sense, especially in the short run.
Workforce planning will look different for the balance of 2021 and into 2022. If you are an employer, take the time now to reassess the skills, the personalities and the roles that will propel your business beyond the pandemic. Become an “employer of choice” by listening to your team and making necessary adjustments. Remember, your employees will continue to be your greatest asset.
What DO Employees Want? More Freedom and More Interaction, Employers Who Listen
Humans are social animals, and we desire connections with others: real, face to face interactions and not those through the computer screen. Lack of social connections at work have led to feelings of isolation and reduced morale. This has impacted innovation, personal and professional development, and workplace culture.
At the same time, many people are enjoying the independence that comes from remote work. In fact, the Society of Human Resource Management found that if given the option to work full-time from home, 52% of employees would say yes.
What’s the solution when employees want both more freedom and more social connection?
For many businesses, a hybrid work model may be the answer. It could be the solution that fosters trust, cohesion and shared experiences at the worksite, and flexibility at home to avoid long commutes and enjoy time with family.
If you are considering a hybrid work strategy, it must be sustainable, flexible and match both your industry and talent’s expectations writes the Harvard Business Review. What else will make it work? Equity is an important matter. So too is structure so people are together in predictable ways.
Honestly face the changes in working dynamics and the new employee mindset, and accept that an evolution may be taking place. Be flexible and accepting that changes to your workplace policies and practices are necessary and inevitable. Do this because it will be vital to business success in 2021 and beyond.
The issues are complex, but you do not have to face them alone. An HR advisor like NEMR Total HR can provide the professional guidance you need. NEMR Total HR is ready to help. Chat Live with us to learn more or Email Us.