Leaders are witnessing a subtle change in power as employee mind-sets around the world have shifted and a new employee relationship is slowly beginning to emerge. The presumption that the employer dictates the terms is under threat.
After nearly 2-years of pandemic induced disruption to the previous paradigm, employees are no longer prepared to be told when and where they can work. What this means in practice for each organisation is different, and in this article I will explain some of the factors that leaders need to consider if they are to retain and attract new talent to fuel their strategic aspirations.
The starting point is to realise that the pre-pandemic ‘9 to 5, Monday to Friday norm’ was based on a set of rituals and work patterns that can trace their antecedents back to the industrial revolution. It makes no sense to reinstate these norms in 2022, regardless of how many leaders hanker after this simply because it suits what they are used to. Indeed if this is your perspective, and you blindly re-instate pre-pandemic norms, then the reality you face is stark. Your employees will leave and you will not attract new talent in the future.
What do employees want now the power base has shifted?
Well, pretty much what they wanted before, they want:
- To be valued by the organisation and by their direct manager
- To share a sense of belonging with the organisation and their team
- They want to work in a caring high performing team with people who they enjoy working with
- Meaningful advancement in their role and career
- Flexibility in their work schedules
- Social connections and fun in their work
These wants and needs have been around a while. The difference now is that leaders have to pay way more attention to these than before, as employees are far more reluctant to be simply bought with a competitive salary and benefits package. These are important too, but not as important as they once were.
Employee Control – the dynamic is changing
It has been the case for quite a while that real talent can, and does move and demands far more freedom of choice. The difference now is that this is a demand that is spreading throughout all employees and, as leaders, we need to start to tune into this new reality.
In short, all employees want to exercise more control over their working lives and not subordinate their family and personal lives to the world of work. Especially as the pandemic has crashed together their work, family and personal lives in an unprecedented way. This has created for many a real challenge that they have been forced to resolve. What has emerged is a different, more balanced way of working and living, one that they are so reluctant to give up, that many are leaving the world of work without another job to go to. Many are starting side-bar passion projects as an alternative source of income. The rate of new company start-ups has never been higher.
Passing Fad or Dislocation?
This emerging employee mind-set is in stark contrast to the Baby Boomer and the Millennium generations who grew up in a world where work and career progression dominated their lives. Indeed for some, their career defined their personal purpose and identity. The impact this mind-set has had on their personal lives can be measured in increased stress and burnout rates in their ranks as, in many cases they sacrifice their health and family time in pursuit of wealth. Many are realizing this is a fools errand, as a gold plated gravestone is of little practical value to anyone.
The reality is however, that they are the leaders at the helm at this time and they are the ones that have the biggest change in mind-set to face as they confront this new and evolving employee paradigm shift.
Hoping that this is a passing fad rather than a real paradigm shift is a dangerous strategy to deploy. What is needed is a new employee conversation, one with different presumptions in play. The leaders who succeed in getting this conversation started, can resolve the inevitable challenges it brings, and can realise the opportunity it creates, then they will be the ones that re-engage their workforce and will win the war on talent.
If you need any help starting this conversation then please do not hesitate to contact us we would love to help.