People are struggling to make new pals at work

Greek philosopher Aristotle, who died in 322 BC, considered “friendliness” one of his 12 virtues. Over two millennia later, Woodrow Wilson, the U.S. president throughout World War I, said: “Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” However, almost a century after his death, the business world is crumbling — because having a best mate at work is increasingly ancient history.

New data from audio-only social media platform Clubhouse, based on a sample size of 1,000 U.S. workers, suggested 74% of people lost touch with a work friend during the coronavirus crisis.

The combination of the Great Resignation, enforced hybrid working policies, and organizations chopping and changing staff — in addition to any health complications suffered — means that fewer people now have besties at work.

Meanwhile, playing “you’re-on-mute” tennis on videoconferencing is not conducive to achieving game, set, match for a smashing new work friendship. The report reveals a worrying statistic: 61% of respondents said work friends are more critical post-pandemic. 

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How fair are employers really being about pay raises during the cost-of-living crisis?

You’d think the resignation of U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss would have sent shockwaves of relief across the country. Perhaps it did in some ways, but the scorched earth she left behind, as a result of her cabinet’s hasty economic decisions, has U.K. public morale at an all-time low.

With inflation at a 40-year high and employees mired in a cost-of-living crisis that looks set to deepen, financial anxiety is sky-high. The worries pile up — including that some may not be able to afford their mortgage this time next year, due to the latest changes made by the Bank of England in response to the disastrous “mini budget. It’s clear we’re in for a shaky recovery.

A new Indeed and YouGov survey of 2,500 U.K. workers reaffirmed this. It showed 52% don’t think they are currently being paid enough to weather the current cost-of-living crisis. And that has a direct correlation to employees feeling undervalued, found the same report. Notably, healthcare and medical staff were most likely to feel underpaid (64%). Next on the list of unhappy workers were those who work in hospitality and leisure (61%) and legal (58%) industries.

To boost bank balances, 13% of those surveyed asked their employers for a pay raise. However, despite the real-earning squeeze, 61% of those who requested an increase either received less than they wanted or nothing at all. Little wonder that overall, 9% had applied for a new role, while others have resorted to taking on additional jobs.

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

Broken meetings culture is causing people to switch off, literally

It was only a matter of time. The endless meetings cycles that have become embedded in the working cultures of so many organizations across industries have escalated to the point where people are simply tuning out during them.

And with so many meetings still taking place on video, rather than in-person, a large number of people don’t think they need to be in them at all – which is leading to mass disengagement, according to some workplace sources.

A whopping 43% of 31,000 workers, polled from across 31 countries by Microsoft, said they don’t feel included in meetings. 

“Meeting culture is broken, and it’s having a significant impact on employee productivity and business efficiency,” said Sam Liang, CEO and co-founder of Otter.ai, a California-based software company that uses artificial intelligence to convert speech to text.

A recent Otter.ai study revealed that, on average, workers spend one-third of their time in meetings, 31% of which are considered unnecessary. But employers continue to plow ahead without changing these embedded structures.

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

Is long-term employee retention a losing battle?

Is the concept of a job for life dead?

The mass reassessment of careers people have undergone over the past few years – described by many as the Great Resignation, by others as the Great Reshufffle – is showing no signs of calming down. In fact, in the U.K., the trend seems to be accelerating.

More than 6.5 million people (20% of the U.K. workforce) are expected to quit their job in the next 12 months, according to estimates from the Charted Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which published the data in June after surveying more than 6,000 workers. That’s up from 2021, when 16% of the U.K. workforce said they plan to quit within a year, according to the CIPD. Meanwhile, in March Microsoft’s global Work Trend Index found that 52% of Gen Zers and Millennials — the two generations that represent the vast majority of the workforce — were likely to consider changing jobs within the following year.

Tania Garrett, chief people officer at Unit4, a global cloud software provider for services companies, argued that it is time for organizations to get real — they are no longer recruiting people for the long term. Instead, they should embrace this reality, and stop creating rewards that encourage more extended service from employees. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

EY and others are offering employees MBAs and masters degrees – but is it a good investment?

When global accountancy firm EY discovered, through an internal survey, that almost three-quarters (74%) of its 312,000 staff in over 150 countries wanted to “participate in activities that help communities and the environment,” action was swiftly taken.

In late February, a unique course was launched: the EY Masters in Sustainability, in association with Hult International Business School in the U.K. The best part? It is free for all EY employees, regardless of rank, tenure or location.

The online-only learning program, which students can work through at their own pace, is designed to expand sustainability and climate literacy among EY workers. The hope is that these newly acquired skills will accelerate innovative sustainability services for clients.

EY’s budget for staff training is likely to be significantly larger than most other organizations. But as the Great Resignation trend drags on, more companies realize that investing in employee education – even if it’s not directly related to work – is good value. It can boost morale, generate fresh thinking, accelerate innovation, and – possibly most importantly right now – help attract and retain the best people.

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

What business leaders can learn from the rise of cross-industry U.K. strikes and union activism in the U.S.

It’s ironic that Britons, who stereotypically bask in small talk about the weather, are experiencing a so-called “summer of discontent” as temperatures hit record highs. The strike action in late June of railway workers, followed by criminal barristers, is likely to be copied in the coming weeks by inflamed teachers, airport staff, and healthcare workers, among others. 

With the cost-of-living crisis raging, it’s a tinderbox. And while it’s broadly understood that the predominant reason for the strike action is pay, some believe there is more to it. In fact, employees feeling they are not being heard by leadership is at the crux of the issue.

Business leaders in the U.K., U.S., or elsewhere would be wise to heed the lessons or risk sparking employee revolts that they can’t contain.

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

WTF is an employee engagement platform?

Every successful company has realized that its people are its greatest asset for decades – if not centuries. Now, more than ever before in the history of work, employers have to understand in great detail what their employees want and need because of the seismic shifts happening. 

With most organizations figuring out flexible and hybrid working models, their employees are the most critical stakeholders. For this reason, to gauge their sentiments, companies are turning to employee experience (EX) platforms.

What exactly are EX platforms, and when did they become a thing?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in May 2022 – to continue reading please click HERE.

The seven biggest hybrid-working challenges, and how to fix them

The phrase “new normal” is a misnomer, given the state of flux in the business world. Few organizations have been able to normalize operations; who can say they’ve nailed their hybrid working strategy with a straight face?

As Kate Thrumble, executive director of talent at marketing company R/GA London, said: “We are all on a – to use an overused word – ‘journey’ with the post-pandemic way of working. No one has cracked it yet. Even those with the best intentions will have to wait a year or two to understand the impact of today’s decisions.”

However, by matching the right technology solutions with the most pressing hybrid-working challenges, organizations will reach their end destination quicker: a happy, productive, engaged and empowered workforce.

So what exactly are the seven most significant business challenges and the best tech, tools and processes to solve them and speed up progress?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in May 2022 – to continue reading please click HERE.

‘It’s going to get messy’: How rising generational divides could kill workplace culture

Intergenerational divides are more expansive than ever, and if left unchecked could quickly lead to toxic workplace cultures, experts warn.

Opinions on post-pandemic work values vary wildly across generations, according to a report from London-based global recruitment firm Robert Walters published in early March.

Some 60% of the 4,000 U.K. office workers surveyed reported a rise in “new challenges” when working with teammates from different generations. And 40% of respondents are “annoyed” at the post-pandemic working values and global-minded outlooks of colleagues in other age ranges.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s WorkLife platform in March 2022 – to continue reading please click here.

‘What’s in it for me?’: The employee question that needs answering in any return-to-office playbook

It’s crunch time for hybrid return-to-office plans, again.

After numerous false starts (thanks Delta and Omicron) it looks like a full-scale return to the office, in whatever shape or form that takes, has arrived. As such, a growing number of major organizations have started to show what hybrid model they’re going for.

Last week, Google told staff in the San Francisco Bay Area and several other U.S. locations that it will end its voluntary work-from-home phase in April, in favor of a plan where most employees will spend three days in the office and two working remotely.

Microsoft has also said it will reopen its Washington state and Bay Area offices, and that employees can configure what days they come to the office with their managers. Likewise, with all coronavirus restrictions officially lifted in England, organizations there are being pressured to articulate and activate their return-to-the-office plans.

Trite as it may be, it’s vital to acknowledge that an incredible amount has changed in the world of work since the pandemic struck almost precisely two years ago. And the most significant transformation has been where most of us work.

Models will naturally vary depending on the company, but there are a few essential guidelines that are worthwhile for all employers to take note of. Here’s a breakdown of five key areas employers need to have in their playbook.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s WorkLife platform in March 2022 – to continue reading please click here.

How to steer clear of ‘employee whiplash’ if driving a return to the office

On Valentine’s Day, Microsoft showed its affection to staff by announcing plans to reopen its Washington state and California Bay Area offices on February 28 — but will workers love it?

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the technology titan had indefinitely postponed return-to-work plans for its 103,000 employees, last September. But now its hybrid-working strategy has been revealed, and staff members are being called back into the office, it will likely spur other prominent organizations to follow suit. 

But could the sudden shift from remote to in-office working cause what Brian Kropp, chief of research for Gartner’s HR practice, calls “employee whiplash”? And, if so, what are the likely short- and long-term effects, and how can they be avoided?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s WorkLife platform in February 2022 – to continue reading please click here.

‘Remote managers are killing company culture’: How to avoid common hybrid-working mistakes and engage increasingly disparate workforces

The general consensus in the corporate world is that hybrid working is here to stay. Yet, without a blueprint for what good looks like a period of trial and error is inevitable.

What is more clear: the role of managers will be critical in making whatever model a company adopts a success and ensuring people feel valued enough not to jump ship. So far, it’s not looking good.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s WorkLife platform in February 2022 – to continue reading please click here.

Employers should focus on improving employees’ experiences in 2022, say experts

People are at odds with their employers on what makes a great employee experience — a disconnect that will need to be swiftly rectified in 2022 if businesses are to retain their talent, according to analysts and workplace experts.

We asked a range of execs what they predict will be the top priorities for business leaders in 2022, and alongside finessing what the right hybrid models are, fixing the employee experience emerged as another major theme.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s WorkLife platform in December 2021 – to continue reading please click here.