Our work places are modifying at a significant rate. From work cultures to employment structures, all have evolved due to the changing workforce preferences. But have employers been able to effectively put in systems and processes in place to drive motivation levels while providing the right work-life balance to their employees? Not so much if the findings of the latest report on work life balance by PwC are to be believed. The report, which interviewed 1,385 employees across various industries, states although a significant portion of the total surveyed said they liked their jobs there exist significant gaps when it comes to the employees being able to manage a good work life balance. The report stated that more than half of the total interviewees strongly agree that they seek work-life balance—yet only 34% say they’ve attained it. There’s also a pervasive feeling of disempowerment. Only 36% agree with the statement, ‘At work my opinions seem to count’ and just 36% say, ‘I feel appreciated at work.’
But this disconnect isn’t only restricted to the ability of employees to maintain work-life balance. The report states a significantly low percentage of employees i.e. around 33 percent of workers under the age of 35, have stated that they are in “a committed partnership” with their employer. When compared to the employers response– around 62% view their relationship with employees as “a committed partnership”– shows a disparity in perception among the two stakeholder groups. This lack of recognition of employee problems by employers has a strong impact on how todays multi-generational workforce connects itself to larger vision of business growth. This impact is felt more across the younger generations of employees. Younger workers—Millennials and Gen Z—are far more likely to have fickle attitudes toward their employer than are their Boomer counterparts. Nearly one-half of Gen Zers and one-third of Millennials reported that they are very or somewhat likely to change jobs in the next six months. For Boomers, the figure comes down to almost 19 percent. A recent report by Deloitte has corroborated such findings. Looking at Deloitte's fifth annual Millennial Survey, businesses stand a realistic chance today of losing a large percentage of their millennial workforce to quick attrition. 52 percent of millennials surveyed in India said, given the choice, they would leave their current employers within the next two years. Increasing the timeframe to 2020 pushes the figure further to 76 percent.
As workplaces evolve, it becomes even more necessary for HR professionals to look closely at how employee preferences are evolving. Mapping evolving expectations on a regular basis will help companies to build sustainable engagement and motivation processes to help control attrition and leverage the skill sets the younger workforce comes with. "It is clear that the future of work and that of the workplace is changing rapidly. While there is still a sizeable segment of workforce which prefers to operate in traditional models, many others are opting for entrepreneurial and network based models which engage with an ecosystem of partners and collaborators. Successful organizations will be those that create ways to engage with all of these segments in a way that helps them access skill requirements at the same time manage their economic outlays too" adds Padmaja Alaganandan, Leader - People and Organisation, PwC India.
The way out
The focus on career growth opportunities along with strong real-time feedback and recognition (and rewards) becoming an expectation with the younger workforce, they should become key components in the way organization formulate their talent acceleration and rewards programs. In addition to these, with the PwC report also pointing out that about 86 percent those surveyed showed to have a strong desire to work independently, companies are finding themselves in a need to redefine their existing work cultures to give more autonomy to their employees. There have been organizations that have been able to leverage such freedom given to employees to ensure engagement. For example 70 percent of Microsoft employees who used work from home as an option cited high job satisfaction, according to the PayScale study. Similarly, at Cisco, which allows a significant portion of the its workforce the option to telecommute or work remotely, 75 percent of employees say they are highly satisfied with their job.
As independent work is perceived to allow greater flexibility in schedule and control over work environment, the opportunity to earn more, and a better work-life balance, these become critical factors for organizations to build into the way they work. The role of HR professionals has become imperative as they are responsible to build a healthy functioning work space which provides autonomy to employees yet unites them with a common business purpose. Only then can every given employee in the organisation can perform true to their capabilities. It also requires understanding how and where, who can be effective. The team would be more driven if their individual autonomy remains untouched while they build a powerful association with organisation. This combined with a proactive mapping of talent preferences and establishing dynamic people management processes which are responsive to workforce needs like facilitating a strong ‘cooperative partnership’ with the employers will help organizations to effectively translate its talent into productivity and manage attrition.