The so-called 'Great Resignation' is still biting businesses as they implement sometimes rigid return-to-office policies. Are companies striking the right balance between technology investments and a good working experience for employees?
In a tight labor market, that's a pertinent question for employers and employees. According to analyst IDC, 32% of European employees are looking to leave their current employer, signaling that the Great Resignation that began in 2021 is far from over.
Microsoft, in its 2022 Work Index Trend report, found that 43% of employees are somewhat or extremely likely to consider changing jobs in the coming year, up from 41% in 2021. Also, 52% of Gen Z and Millennials might change jobs this year, up 3% on 2021.
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Respondents said the top reason for leaving an employer is the hunt for higher salaries, but the second reason driving employee churn is an unfulfilling employee experience, IDC found in its The Future of Work European Employee Survey.
IDC says there is a "clear disconnect" between what employers and employees define as a good working experience.
On the corporate side, managers prize investments in collaborations technology, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, VPNs and so on, that facilitate hybrid work. Meanwhile, employees worry about declining company culture, according to IDC.
IT decision makers, for example, nominated collaboration technology upgrades as the top concern, while staff said they were fearful of how their work is being assessed and feel a lack of connectedness.
Moreover, IDC found that about 30% of employees who work under a hybrid arrangement aren't satisfied with their employer's technology.
"A continuing focus on technology as a one-stop solution to improve employee experience is problematic, as remote employees primarily struggle with cultural experience disparity," said Meike Escherich, associate director, European Future of Work, at IDC.
"Successful flexible work models rely on a shift away from the old in-office ethos of command and control toward a culture of employee enablement."
Microsoft noted in its report that the last two years, during which people have experienced remote work, show that employees can be productive and have a better life outside of work. It means companies can't afford to ignore flexibility and wellbeing.
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Some companies are tackling worker experience head-on. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky recently announced staff can work from anywhere without being subject to in-country location-based salary cuts. He says the office as it has been known is over and that company policies asking staff to be in the office for three days a week will gradually be whittled down to one day a week.
But many companies are ignoring this changed reality. Slack recently conducted a survey of 10,000 knowledge workers in the US, Australia, France, Germany, Japan and the UK. It found a third of employees are now back at the office five days a week. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the survey reported work-related stress and anxiety levels were the highest since Slack began surveying employees in summer 2020.
Slack found that the burden of working from the office five days a week is falling harder on non-executive employees than execs. Knowledge workers with little or no ability to set their own work hours are 2.6 times as a likely to look for employment elsewhere, it found.