Post-COVID, what will employees expect from their work-life, and what should companies do to meet these expectations? When life returns to ‘normal,’ employees will expect greater flexibility, increased trust from management and better work-life balance. Before COVID, many companies limited the amount of time employees were able to work from home, with the general opinion being it was the same as having a day off. But with many German offices closed for over a year, it’s become clear that productivity isn’t damaged by working from home - in fact, it sky-rockets.
According to a report by Stanford University, working from home increases productivity by 13%. People take less time for lunch and aren’t distracted by numerous coffee breaks or chit chat in meetings. Far from being an opportunity to slack, working from home helps people focus on complex tasks with fewer distractions.
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Key contributing factors to employee wellbeing
A key contributor to employee wellbeing is autonomy, and the freedom to manage one’s own workload without micromanagement. In fact, an overbearing boss is one of the key reasons for job dissatisfaction in the workplace. Another key factor is physical comfort and safety. A study by Science Daily shows that employees are significantly impacted by their working environment, and they recommend using professionals to design optimal office and work spaces. Of course, now the concept of ‘physical comfort and safety’ extends far beyond the office environment. Even when we do return to normalcy, employees may still want to work from home and might feel anxious about returning to a busy workplace. And another crucial factor is learning and development. When employees feel they are learning and progressing, they’re more motivated; and when they feel valued by their employer, they’re more likely to stay with the company.
How employee expectations have changed since COVID
Intergenerationally, workplace culture differs hugely. Generation X, for example, are more likely to stay in one job for years at a time, placing high value on a steady income and security. Millennials, however, who make up the majority of the start-up nation, value experience over security and are more likely to hop from one job to another, especially in markets where their skillset is in high demand.
This presents two challenges to employers. First, that of attracting top-tier talent and second, staying forward-thinking and agile enough to retain this talent. Before COVID, employees would happily come into the office early for meetings, or catch a flight to a different country to seal a deal. Now, people will have less patience for unnecessary travel and will expect greater flexibility from management.
Health, wellbeing and development has come to the fore since COVID-19, and workers now expect a focus on holistic benefits, including fitness to boost their immune system and courses to accelerate workplace progression. Why? Because working from home has highlighted the importance of versatility in day-to-day life, and further education such as language learning works as a healthy circuit-breaker in the working day.
Post-COVID, Millennials will be thirstier than ever for new experiences. Once the skies re-open, many will request to work remotely for long periods of time, so they can, for example, travel and work simultaneously.
How employers can meet these changing needs
Employers should think very hard about what their policy is around these evolving expectations. Now is a good time to assess the way in which your company will respond to the requests of remote work, whether it’s for months at a time or two days a week from home. After over a year of lockdown, employees will need greater freedom outside the workplace in order to feel satisfied in their roles.
When we do return to normalcy, employees will appreciate a clear-cut strategy, with a presentation of how the company plans to adapt to their needs. COVID has brought some good things with it - one of which is the disruption of our office-hours - and it’s now clear that hybrid work hours aren’t just great for wellbeing, but boost motivation and productivity too.
The effects of this pandemic will stay with us for a long time, so HR and team leads must demonstrate patience and understanding for those employees who feel physically safer working from home.
Why Meeting These Needs Will Benefit Your Company
When it comes to holistic health and wellbeing, many employers have already provided platforms for their team to get fit, learn a new language or get stuck into extracurricular activities. Language learning provides a space for your team to learn and progress outside of their work responsibilities. During lockdowns, remote learning lunches will give them the opportunity to form new bonds and reconnect with colleagues. Providing further training courses for your team, even beyond COVID, will drive home the message that they are valued, that they are worth investing in and that they have a future at your company. This, paired with greater flexibility and an agile response to remote-work will make a highly desirable work-place environment, so your company can retain top-tier talent and build a robust reputation as a top employer in the industry.
Babbel for Business is proud to support many workforces in their language learning journey. If you’re interested in joining our community, get in touch with a member of our team today. We’d love to hear from you.