The Great Disconnection: People no longer recognize their workplace

Modern workplaces have an employee-disconnection problem. And it’s costing businesses a fortune.

Two-thirds of 2,000 white-collar workers in the U.K. feel disengaged from their workplace, while 53% of 3,000 U.S. workers polled in the same survey, recently published by recruitment firm Robert Walters, said they also feel disengaged. The firm calculated that the cost of that workplace disengagement to the U.K.’s already shaky economy will be £340 billion ($386 billion) this year alone.

It’s a strong indicator that despite having moved past the worst peaks of the coronavirus pandemic, and the long period of enforced remote working that followed, the shift to more flexible-working policies hasn’t solved the issue either. At least, not yet.

More than two years later, it seems that the employee disconnection can is still being kicked down the road. That’s not for lack of trying.

Employers everywhere have brought in new working measures at every turn – whether it’s hybrid models, work-from-anywhere policies, flexible hours, four-day weeks, or even full five-day returns to the office. You name it, it’s being tested. But could it be that there has been so much change that that in itself is adding to the confusion and disconnection? 

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Why it’s time to redefine ‘organisational resilience’ in the modern workplace

How should we define “resilience” in the business context of today?

In his latest book, best-selling author Bruce Daisley argues that the concept of resilience urgently needs an upgrade for the post-pandemic world.

Daisley, former vp of Twitter in EMEA, contends that resilience has negative connotations akin to grit and graft. He believes this should be replaced by the more well-rounded science of fortitude, the name of his new book.

But there are others who aren’t ready to sideline “resilience” as the appropriate definition for the kind of characteristics business leaders and employees need to show in order to thrive at work.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Neutral ground: Why offsite meetings will be the norm for hybrid workforces

Forget in-office or virtual meetings: The majority of collaborative-working tasks will take place at off-site venues in future.

That’s because offsites offer something offices don’t — neutral ground for employees who don’t want to work continuously from an office, but also don’t want to be entirely remote, according to Alexia Cambon, a director in management consultancy Gartner’s HR practice.

The feeling of being monitored in an office by technology or a manager creates tension and means the employee does not feel comfortable. Indeed, only 14% of 2,336 hybrid and remote employees surveyed in Gartner’s Culture in a Hybrid World report, published in May, said that they can be themselves the most when working alone, but in an office. Meanwhile, 52% preferred working solo, asynchronously, and away from colleagues.

Hence, offsite meet-ups are a good middle ground. “When you remove employees from the employer-controlled environment and put them in a third space, this neutral space, a lot of interesting things can start to happen,” said Cambon.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Amid economic turmoil, HR budgets are under threat

As the specter of a global financial crash looms, businesses are pruning budgets, and human resources departments are first in line for the chop, according to new research by HR software company Personio.

More than half (55%) of HR managers have either had their budgets slashed already, or expect them to be cut in the coming months, according to the report, which surveyed 500 HR professionals and 1,000 workers in the U.K. and Ireland. Fifty-two percent of the respondents said they’re used to their department’s budget being the first to get trimmed when businesses tighten their belts.

But this approach is wrongheaded and will have lasting ramifications, argued Ross Seychell, Personio’s chief people officer. “HR should be even more of a priority now, not less,” he said.

That’s because areas typically within the HR remit — like company culture and employee experience — are more important than ever, as organizations continue to battle to get people into the office and ensure the experience is worthwhile when they do. All at a time when talent retention is just as vital.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Most HR professionals have got it wrong – longer hours do not mean better performance

The phrase “hard work pays off” (or subtle variations thereof) has to be one of the most popular nuggets of advice in the last century and beyond. This maxim, passed down from generation to generation, has conditioned us to believe that the more we do something, the more we will be rewarded. 

However, there is growing evidence that shows this attitude is counter-productive. Moreover, overworking is dangerous. And most worryingly, over two-thirds (68%) of European human resources professionals are peddling the idea that high-performing employees work longer hours than average employees, according to a study by Gartner.

How, then, can performance be improved in a world where people are exhausted (because they are working harder)?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Managers confess their quiet firing tactics

The public scrutiny around “quiet firing” doesn’t appear to be letting up. For good reason. At a time when employees are reevaluating what they put into their jobs (what some now describe as quiet quitting), more employers are also reassessing what employees are putting in. And that could lead to more quiet firings — when an employer or manager uses different, passive-aggressive tactics that have the same goal: making the employee want to quit themselves.

In truth, it’s one of those secrets that has been hidden in plain sight for years. A LinkedIn News poll from late August suggested that 83% of over 20,000 voters had witnessed quiet firing. And some managers have mastered the dark art of persuading staff to leave of their own volition. WorkLife spoke to various senior leaders who admitted to quiet firing, to understand why they have resorted to the passive-aggressive work tactic.

Under the condition of anonymity and agreed on pseudonyms — for fear of career-damaging repercussions — they shared their subtle strategies. We’ve selected four of the most compelling examples.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Rise in ’employee nomading’ leaves HR teams baffled about where their staff are

Ask any human resources professional what their biggest work headache is, and you’re unlikely to hear it’s that they can’t locate their staff.

It turns out, the shift to hybrid or fully remote working that’s occurred over the last few years has meant that now HR departments are often left in the dark about where all their employees are. And in many cases, employees who decide to travel somewhere to work for a week or month aren’t always informing HR.

Well over two-thirds of employees surveyed in the U.S. and U.K. said they do not report which days they work outside of their home state or country to HR, according to HR company Topia’s Adapt to Work Anywhere report.

A further 40% of HR professionals admitted they were shocked to discover certain employees had changed their working location without informing them, but also conceded that many more employees who have gone AWOL may have done so under the radar, according to the same report.

It’s a catch-22 for employers. Most (96%) employees interviewed in the Topia survey (and other surveys indicate similar findings) ranked flexibility in working arrangements as a key factor when seeking a new employer. And 94% agreed with the statement: “I should be able to work from anywhere I want as long as I get my work done.” 

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in September 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How Meta is redesigning the way its distributed employees work together

For most companies, figuring out what workplace model best suits their workforces and organizational needs will be an ongoing process of trial and error that will iterate over the next few years. Meta is no exception.

Unlike its big-tech counterparts Apple and Google, Meta is pushing forward with its remote, decentralized working model. In March many of its senior leadership team reportedly spread out to work from a range of locations beyond its Silicon Valley headquarters including New York, Hawaii, the U.K. and Israel.

That’s a strategy that won’t be without its headaches. But Meta’s senior leadership is laser-focused on ironing out any inevitable kinks.

Establishing what different challenges occur for distributed teams versus teams that are physically together in one office location is a priority. And finding the right balance between in-person and remote work will require some experimentation.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in September 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Are employers creating a lost generation of managers?

For all the benefits of flexible working, a stark question remains unanswered: How will no or little in-office experience affect our young and future managers?

To some, the opportunities to learn through osmosis, either in the office or at work socials, are already dwindling. If left unchecked, it could potentially lead to a lost generation of young managers in knowledge-worker industries, they think.

Perhaps employers deserve some sympathy. With the war for talent raging and a gloomy economic outlook, investment in developing young workers could be costly with little return.

Maybe it makes better sense to work backward: What skills will the managers of tomorrow require? UJJI research identified the five skill areas for good managers in the world of modern work as communication, problem-solving, adaptability, leadership, and productivity.

How can these skills be honed if workplace learning is limited?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in September 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How employee monitoring has shifted from creepy to empowering HR teams

A friend giddily informed me a few days ago that she had “found the perfect eraser.” Perplexed as to why something that rubs out pencil marks would evoke such glee, I asked for more details. “This eraser is the ideal weight; I can rest it on the space bar, so the screen stays awake if I leave the desk,” she said. “That way, my manager thinks I’m still being active at my computer.”

Employees who feel they are being observed for no good reason tend to find a way to game the system, argued Brian Kropp, group vp and chief of research for Gartner’s HR practice. “If your employer is trying to screw you by creepily monitoring you, there are various things you can do to screw them over,” he said.

For instance, he revealed that if computer mouse activity is being tracked, then an analog watch can help. If you position the mouse on the watch, then the second hand creates just enough motion to make it still active.

Monitoring is on the rise, though. According to Gartner’s research, around 30% of the medium and large corporate organizations it assesses had tracking systems in place before the pandemic. “Now the percentage is more than 60%,” said Brian Kropp, group vp and chief of research for Gartner’s HR practice.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in September 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Glass half-full or half-empty: How to balance a partying culture at work

What was your honest reaction when Sanna Marin, Finland’s prime minister, was scandalized for partying recently? In August, the 36-year-old sparked controversy after leaked videos showed her dancing and drinking with friends. 

Whichever side of the bar you sit on, Marin’s partying raised important questions about how business leaders in all walks of life should conduct themselves when with and without colleagues in a social environment. 

How do employees feel about a boozy boss? And do enforced work events, where people are encouraged to imbibe at a free bar, help or hinder the health of a workplace in a post-pandemic world?

Indeed, in most industries, for decades – if not centuries – socializing with colleagues and attending work drinks has been central to company culture. Away from the workplace, over a glass or two, people can relax, make meaningful memories, share challenges and opportunities – at work and home – and, ultimately, strengthen bonds with coworkers. But is the glass half-full, half-empty, or completely empty in 2022?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in September 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Workers share their worst toxic boss experiences

All the chatter about quiet quitting – namely, doing what a job requires and no more – has provoked deeper discussions about toxic workplace culture and poor management as organizations firm up their hybrid-working strategies.

Some execs have aired concerns that the bring-your-whole-selves-to-work trend has backfired, and in many cases has caused fragmented workforces, while some leaders have taken advantage of the concept to justify their own questionable behavior.

WorkLife spoke to a range of employees from those who consider themselves quiet quitters, to those who have resigned outright, plus those still considering resigning, to find out what prompted them to take their current course of action. Under the condition of anonymity – for fear of career-damaging repercussions – they shared their recent experiences, which highlight the alarming management they have endured. We’ve selected three of the worst accounts.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in September 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

WTF is pre-covery?

Before employees start working at SevenRooms, a global guest experience and retention platform for the hospitality industry, they are automatically provided two weeks paid time off by their new employer.

The initiative, called Fresh Start, is part of the growing “pre-covery” trend — a term to describe an acknowledgment that employees must recharge before beginning a new challenge to avoid burnout.

Some professionals believe it can be a protective layer between success and failure. “The best organizations have realized employees can’t run at 100% for 100% of the time,” said Brian Kropp, group vice president and chief of research for Gartner’s HR practice. “We have to create time for breaks, moments of rest and recovery. The best organizations are increasingly thinking about ‘pre-covery.’”

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Lessons from Spotify’s work-from-anywhere rollout

Spotify launched a new work model called “work from anywhere” (WFA) in February 2021 – and it was music to the ears of its 8,600 employees, according to data published in early August.  

The policy enabled staff to decide when they worked in a company office or wherever else on the planet, as long as the Swedish-headquartered company had a hub in that country.

The music-streaming company also tweaked its salary bands, recalibrating them by nation rather than city or region. That seemed to be a popular move: 6% of its 11,453 employees moved countries after this policy was introduced, and a large chunk of whom moved within the U.S.

The headline news, though, is that despite the great resignation trend, Spotify claimed staff churn has reduced compared to pre-pandemic levels and that it has also boosted the diversity of its workforce – as a direct result of the policy. 

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

More companies are publishing salary bands – is this the future, or risky?

At the end of July, Hook, a creative production house based in Ann Arbor, Mich., and San Francisco, took the bold but progressive step of publishing its pay bands on its website. It is a milestone moment in a five-year journey for the company striving to achieve greater parity and transparency.

The hope is competitors and organizations in other industries that are typically slow to keep pace with change will follow its lead.

A growing number of states are adopting salary transparency laws. But is publishing salary bands truly a good idea, considering rival companies could, in theory, steal top talent by offering more money?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How hybrid working has complicated mergers & acquisitions

Up to 90% of business acquisitions don’t achieve the expected value or benefits. The principal reason for this failure is that integrating groups is notoriously challenging – and even more so now, with many organizations shifting to hybrid working strategies. 

Global deal-making activities hit a record $6 trillion last year. And yet, while employees are the most critical asset of most companies, they often get neglected in the excitement of an M&A.

The age-old M&A model typically involved the employees of one company leaving their offices, to join those of their new employer. But with today’s hybrid and flexible working setups, that looks very different. And adds new complexity to the long-term challenge of successful cultural integration.

Organic opportunities for new colleagues to connect are likely to be missed thanks to the move to hybrid working. So what could – and should – be done?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How to fix the metaverse’s sexual harassment problem (and make ‘metawork’ a reality)

Since Meta – the tech titan formerly known as Facebook – revealed last year that it would invest heavily in the metaverse, there has been massive enthusiasm about the possibilities of this nascent technology, not least in a future-of-work capacity. 

Indeed, at the end of July, a study by Grand View Research predicted the booming metaverse market will reach $6.8 trillion by 2030. However, alarming recent data indicates that almost two-thirds of adults believe metaverse technologies will enable sexual harassment.

national tracking poll by business-intelligence company Morning Consult, published in March, found that 61% of 4,420 U.S. adults were concerned about this specific subject. Women seem most worried about it, with 41% of female respondents saying they have “major” concerns, compared to 34% of males. 

The same research showed that 79% of adults are worried about the tracking and misuse of personal data in the metaverse. Add in the numerous articles written about people’s personal experiences of harassment in the metaverse, and it’s clear there is a deep-rooted trust issue that business leaders should consider before funding metaverse worlds for employees, whether onboarding staff, hosting events, or meetings.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How technology can help financial services organisations reach younger generations

Smartphone apps, gamification and proactive support are some of the ways operators can engage the digital natives of today and tomorrow

Baby boomers might have a majority of global wealth today, but tomorrow it will be different. Indeed, by 2030, Europe’s younger generations – millennials and gen z – are due to inherit around £2.3 trillion from their parents, according to recent estimates. How can financial service operators cash in on this great wealth transfer?

In 2022, client-facing teams operating in the financial service industry can – and must – leverage technology to build meaningful relationships with younger generations who are digital natives. 

Indeed, over a third (34%) of 18- to 34-year-olds would choose a different financial services provider if they were expected to visit a branch in person, according to VMware’s recent Digital Frontiers 4.0 report, which surveyed over 2,000 UK consumers. 

Similarly, Marqeta’s 2022 Consumer Money Movement report reveals generational differences. Over half (54%) of gen z – born between 1997 and 2012 – can’t recall their PINs, and more than three-quarters (77%) feel confident enough with contactless payments to leave their wallets at home and just go out with their phones. 

Consider a Chase study from 2021 indicated that 99% of gen z and 98% of Millennials use mobile banking apps, compared to 86.5% of gen x and 69.5% of Boomers.

“Younger markets live on their smartphones,” says Ben Johnson, CEO of digital transformation consultants BML Digital. “Everything needs to be available via the app, and the mobile experience has to match the ease of something like Snapchat or Pinterest.” 

Prakash Pattni, managing director of financial services digital transformation in EMEA for IBM, agrees. “Ultimately, younger consumers want to access their accounts, lock missing cards, make virtual payments and transfer money to others swiftly and securely,” he says. “Financial institutions must develop easy-to-use applications with superior uptime that can easily integrate with other apps.”

Gamification and proactive support

How can financial services operators generate trust with younger generations? “Technology is the answer,” posits Somya Patnaik, a market product manager specialising in real-time payments at ACI Worldwide. “They must bring more innovative features that will engage young people and improve their consumer experience.”

Gamification in financial services is winning a lot of trust among young consumers, suggests Patnaik. So, for instance, insurance companies might build an app that tracks fitness activities against pre-agreed goals, which, if hit, unlock rewards like cheaper insurance or gym memberships. This insight chimes with George Ioannou, managing partner at design experience company Foolproof. Learning patterns around digital activities differ according to age. Where the older generations turn to Facebook for information, younger generations are growing up using gaming platforms such as Fortnite and Discord servers. 

“This may speak to using gamified models of education within financial applications to facilitate learning, perhaps even in a sandbox, and therefore a safe environment,” says Ioannou. 

Ioannou argues that technology enables financial services organisations to become more proactive in supporting customers, and younger generations want more advice about money matters now than ever. “Operators need to step up and actively educate their users,” he adds. 

Research from Personetics, a global fintech, published at the end of June shows in the past three months only 22% of UK customers feel their primary bank has communicated with them about dealing with the cost-of-living crisis. Further, over half (53%) would consider moving banks if a rival offered better money management support and personalised advice.

Reliable source of truth 

Financial education is now starting young. NatWest is currently offering a children’s pocket-money application for free to customers. “Last year, we acquired Rooster Money, a children’s prepaid debit card and app,” explains Fay Wood, head of acquisition and digital security authentication. “We wanted to do more in the space for children.”  

She also stresses the importance of working with expert partners to provide access to apps at speed. “Five or ten years ago, we would have built something like Rooster Money in-house.”

Alongside proactive apps, social media is an invaluable tool for sales and marketing teams in the financial service industry looking to use tech to appeal to younger customers. Here, states Amanda Le Brocq, head of strategy at Marcus by Goldman Sachs, is where organisations can add value. 

“Young people are increasingly getting financial information from social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram,” she says. “But with so much content available, people can easily get the wrong information. Today, it is essential that financial services companies provide a compelling digital offering, so young people can consume content online and know it is coming from a reliable source.”

Operators wanting to engage younger customers must look further and deeper, says Meghana Nile, insurance CTO at Fujitsu. “Social media and peers influence a lot of the purchasing decisions, meaning financial services companies that have a reputation for having ethical and sustainable practices will attract buyers from gen z, who in 2030 will be the dominant purchasing demographic.”

This article was first published in Raconteur’s The new financial services client experience insights report, sponsored by Seismic, in August 2022

‘It’s pulling us apart’: Has the ‘bring our whole selves to work’ trend backfired?

In the post-Covid-19 era, business leaders are advised to be authentic in word and deed, display their vulnerabilities, and encourage staff to bring their whole selves to work. But some argue this has merely opened a can of worms within organizations — an outcome that may be hard to rectify.

Almost half (44%) of U.S. employees said they have actively avoided some co-workers because they disagree with their political views since returning to the office following the coronavirus crisis, according to unpublished Gartner research seen by WorkLife.

Brian Kropp, group vice president and chief of research for Gartner’s human resources practice, acknowledged that events of the last 2 1/2 years have frayed work relationships. Still, in his view, we have brought this problem on ourselves.

“We spend so much time talking about ‘bringing your whole self to work,’ making sure that we’re inclusive and encouraging people to be who they are when they’re in the office,” he said. “Part of an employee’s whole self is their political beliefs.”

As workplaces have become more open and inclusive, they have also invited the day’s political, societal and cultural debates into the workplace. “Unfortunately, in this period of extreme political and cultural tension, that conflict has permeated into the workplace, and now it’s pulling us apart from each other,” added Kropp.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

People are being harsher in the workplace post-pandemic – how did we get here?

Be honest: are you snappier with your colleagues and harsher with your spoken and written words than two years ago? We might not like to admit it, but the pandemic altered us all, to a degree – at work and home. 

Individually, the change might be imperceptible. However, collectively it adds up to a negative conclusion. And if left unchecked, this general lack of positivity will toxify the workplace and corrode relationships.

Brian Kropp, group vp and chief of research for Gartner’s HR practice, expressed his concern for employers and their staff. “There are numerous things pulling employees apart from each other, and that’s incredibly difficult as an organization because the purpose of having a company is bringing people together, to collaborate, and to achieve something bigger than any individual could achieve alone,” he said.

Could this be the start of a worrying trend? “We’re finding that we are entering a period where things inside and outside our organizations are causing the workforce fragmentation,” Kropp added. 

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.