Trying to keep up with what employees are thinking and doing these days is difficult. So Microsoft conducted a very large study – 31,000 people in 131 countries – and came to a few conclusions, in their Work Trends Index 2022.
Employees have a new "worth it" equation.
Priorities have changed since the pandemic and so it’s not surprising In our study, 47% of respondents say they are more likely to put family and personal life over work than they were before the pandemic. In addition, 53%—particularly parents (55%) and women (56%)—say they’re more likely to prioritize their health and wellbeing over work than before.
As a result, employees’ “worth it” equation—what people want from work and what they’re willing to give in return—has changed, notes the report.
That new attitude results in a lot of job shuffling. So it’s important to understand why people are leaving jobs. The survey identified the top six reasons:
- Personal wellbeing or mental health (24%),
- Work-life balance (24%),
- Risk of getting COVID-19 (21%),
- Lack of confidence in senior management/leadership (21%),
- Lack of flexible work hours or location (21%) and
- Not receiving promotions or raises (19%).
Managers feel wedged between leadership and employee expectations.
The culture of the workplace moved to front and center over the past two years as it was the predominant factor in determining how satisfied employees were with their company, based on how they handled the pandemic.
The culture also affected managers. The survey found that managers “feel stuck between leadership and new employee expectations, and they feel powerless to drive change for their team.” Over half of managers (54%) feel leadership at their company is out of touch with employee expectations. And 74% say they don’t have the influence or resources they need to make changes on behalf of their team.
Another source of tension is the issue of where to work. Half of the leaders say that the company is requiring full-time in-person work. In the manufacturing sector, this number was 55%, while retail was 54% and consumer goods was 35%.
One of the reasons for the push for employees to return to the office is the matter of productivity. Despite 80% of employees saying they are just as or more productive since going remote or hybrid, 54% of leaders fear productivity has been negatively impacted since the shift.
This is a formidable issue, as flexibility is valued very highly by employees these days. Over half of respondents (52%) say they are likely to consider shifting to hybrid or remote work in the year ahead. And remote and hybrid jobs are still on the rise.
Rebuilding social capital looks different in a hybrid world.
How teams are interacting and the result of that workplace relationships has changed. While a majority of hybrid employees said they are maintaining their work relationships, only half of remote workers say they have a thriving relationship with their direct team, and even fewer have a strong relationship with those outside their team.
This presents an issue for leaders who must “recoup the social capital we’ve lost,” say the authors of the study. Leaders must be intentional about reconnecting both hybrid and remote employees into the fabric of the organization, the study concludes. And leaders understand that this isn’t an easy task. In fact, 43% report that relationship-building is the greatest challenge in hybrid and remote work. But it’s one that will pay off as the survey found that employees who have thriving relationships with their immediate team members report better well-being than those with poor relationships (76% versus 57%). They also report higher productivity (50% versus 36%) and are less likely to change employers in the year ahead (61% versus 39%).
Examining networks outside of the immediate team is also a way to address this issue. Employees with thriving relationships beyond their immediate team members say they’re more satisfied with their employer (76% versus 57%), more fulfilled by work (79% versus 59%), and have a more positive outlook on workplace stress (40% versus 30%) than those with weak organizational networks.