Key people in your workplace are ready to leave because of a poor Workplace Experience. Hybrid work has created a lot of friction in the workplace. Because the best employees can go where they please, they could easily choose to leave for an employer who will offer a better Workplace Experience.
Parts of your business could disintegrate without these high performers. You might already have business areas that are on the precipice of being unable to deliver.
A real world example
The other day a change manager told me that part of her business, the ICT function within a large government employer, is begging her to limit workplace changes. The rows and rows of empty desks each day are not a sign of peace, happiness and contentment with working from home.
Instead, this particular functional area is losing people hand over fist. Turnover is so high that the business function is practically at the point of being unable to support its organisation. In a tight labour market, leaders just cannot find people with the necessary skills to come and work for them. Added to this, managers are having incredible trouble getting people to come back into the office. All of this means that as a team, they are not only struggling, they are beginning to fail.
This is not the way to run a successful operation. If people are not engaged enough to want to stick with your organisation, they will look elsewhere and take their skills somewhere that cares.
What the experts say
Of course, this could be a one-off situation. However current data is showing us that is not the case.
- More than half of Australian knowledge workers are prepared to quit within the next year, according to Slack’s latest remote work survey (October 2021)
- More than 15 million US workers have quit their jobs since April 2021, at record pace, according to McKinsey (September 2021)
- 40% of employees in Australia, Canada, Singapore, the UK, and the US said they are at least somewhat likely to quit in the next three to six months (September 2021)
Why is disengagement at such a peak? The primary reason appears to be that leaders are disconnected from what their employees really need. This is how McKinsey sees it: “There’s a clear disconnect between why employers think their employees are leaving and the actual reasons behind employee exits.”
How we see it
You may think that people aren’t much affected by the quality of their Workplace Experience now that they are working from home. But that is just it. Now that people are working from home, the workplace is not just the office space with its fixtures, fittings and workspace design. The workplace is all the spaces a person works at and the experience of doing that work. This means that ways of working are now enmeshed in the Workplace Experience more than ever before. Employers think this matters less than it actually does. Employees are far more likely than their workplace leaders to prioritise relational factors, including feeling valued by their manager and organisation and having a sense of belonging. These are the factors that count in their decisions to move on.
Savvy employers are working out how to provide an excellent Workplace Experience in the current circumstances and getting on with creating it. As an example, Hootsuite’s 27,000-square-foot flagship office was reconfigured in January 2021 from traditional cubicles to collaborative couches and treadmill, bike or sit-stand desks. However, it will quickly make sense to you that an office redesign alone is not enough to address the relational factors that matter to employees.
A way forward
Here’s an approach that ensures you will get it right:
- Understand your employee’s Workplace Experience, both in terms of how well your workspace designs suit their needs, and their real-life, on-the-ground, lived experience of current ways of working
- Establish a core design group that can help you establish adjustments to the key elements of your Workplace Experience: your workspace and ways of working
- Pilot those adjustments, using prototypes developed with your core design group.
- Use an Emergent change approach to bring your people with you on the journey.
- Ensure that throughout, your decisions about ways of working and workspace design are guided by the quality of the Workplace Experience.
It can be a challenge to create a Workplace Experience that people want to be part of. At Transformed Teams we help leaders build a workplace that will be attractive to the people you want your workplace to attract. We have worked with executives for the last eight years to help them build modern workplaces which create real, measurable increases in commitment and engagement.
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