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How Employees’ Expectations Have Changed Post-Pandemic: What HR Leaders Need To Know

It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the workforce deeply. The long-term effects of working in the pandemic have been far-reaching and the focus is now entirely towards building a sustainable employee experience. While earlier work-life balance, flexible working conditions, employee-friendly policies were just good-to-haves, they’re now the all-essentials. Why? The pandemic triggered a wave of Great Resignation, with over 54% of employees quitting their jobs in pursuit of employers who offer flexibility and benefits.

According to the data gathered by Amber, organizations have to remodel these four elements to stay on top of new EX trends:

Employee Burnout

Due to unprecedented circumstances, employees and managers are still struggling to stabilize business revenues. As a result, the average workday during the pandemic increased by roughly 10%, coupled with more workload and added pressure.

A study conducted by Spring Health in the US found that ~80% of the employees across the nation expressed feeling burnt out with their work. As a consequence, among the top demands that employees are making of their employers are resources and services to handle, sustain, and restore employee wellness at work.

Employees are certain that paid time-off, micro-breaks, a four-day workweek will help them in recuperation, however, this change must be driven by the leadership. Good company culture is what the leadership shapes it to be. Hence, leaders are now expected to encourage the discourse around mental health and wellness so that employees feel psychologically safer expressing themselves.

Why is addressing burnout the absolute need of the hour? Studies have found that the long-term impacts of burnout outweigh the short-term costs of giving workers more time off. Shockingly, a study conducted by UCL found that employees who worked three or more hours longer than required had a 60% higher risk of heart-related problems than those who didn’t work overtime.

Inadequate Benefits and Policies

As the world recovers from one of the worst health crises, employees now wish for upgraded benefits and policies that cover aspects of both physical and mental health. In a fortunate turn of events, according to the 'Future of Benefits' study, organizations are now ready to double down on several benefits and initiatives like child and senior care, flexible work, portals for accessing health care, subsidized care, and new parent support among others. The study also found that 41% of organizations are now comfortable with expanding employee wellness benefits to best suit their people. These aside, employees also expect conveyance allowance to be accounted for, considering the threat and inconvenience associated with public transport in a post-pandemic world. 

Undefined Learning Curves

One area of employee experience that’s taken the biggest hit in this new world, it’s the employee career trajectories. As per the Prudential report, of the 26% of workers planning to switch jobs post-COVID, 80% are doing so because they’re concerned about career advancement. Nearly one-third of employees report feeling 'stuck in their careers' since the pandemic began (Robert Half survey). 

In addition, one of our internal researches based on Amber conversations with 400K+ employees suggests that Career and Learning have been a consistent pain point for employees since the beginning of the pandemic. 

One of the major issues that employees have highlighted is Career Satisfaction with only 50% of them being satisfied with how their careers are progressing in 2021.

As alarming as these stats are, we believe that it's the right time for organizations to start investing in their employees’ careers to boost their learning curves. The sense of stagnation felt by employees about their careers can be overcome by crafting personalized learning journeys for them. These learning journeys can be customized by a mutual understanding between employees and their managers about their aspirations and goals.

Organizations must also take special care to empower and train line managers to have meaningful relationships with their team members. This will ensure that managers work in tandem with employees to design a career development plan, and also help them reflect on holistic professional development instead of just operational performance (SHRM). Within teams, peer learning structures should be encouraged by making the best use of strong interpersonal relations among employees to foster learning. Other initiatives like mentorship programs, learning credits, offering advanced courses can add the much needed value to the overall development of the employee.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Approximately, 40% of employees consider quitting if asked to return to their offices full-time. While many HR professionals may be aware of this sentiment, it still does not make it easy for them to work on it. Employees now prefer flexibility in how they work, either from home or a totally different location. On average, employees would want to work between two and three days remotely after the pandemic.

A survey rolled out by EY found that 33% of employees expressed that they want a shorter working week and more than half (67%) believe their productivity can be accurately measured irrespective of location. Additionally, flexible work arrangements also mean catering to emerging employees' needs. Employees are expecting better technology in the office (e.g. faster internet and zoom calls), and others expect their companies to upgrade at-home work setup (e.g. screen, headsets, furniture) with reimbursement for high-speed internet/phone expenses.

Despite fighting and surviving one of the toughest health crises, organizations would have to continuously reinvent the wheel of employee experience. Keeping EX at the forefront, we have to try, assess, and iterate to turn 'The Great Resignation' into the 'Great Opportunity'.

 

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Saloni Goyal
Saloni Goyal
People Science Associate at inFeedo

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