The New Normal
In recent years, the nature of work has changed dramatically, the effects of which have been felt by the workforce. You have likely experienced this within your own life. Whether that has meant a shift in your working model to a remote or hybrid working setup, impacts on hiring or financial uncertainty. Now as we approach what many are referring to as “The New Normal”, the workforce as a whole is left to ponder what this “New Normal” should and could look like.
The pandemic while disruptive provided many with an opportunity to reflect upon whether or not their current place of employment was the right place for them. Workers began to develop a set of priorities based on what is important to them and where they see themselves in the future.
Chief among these priorities is the working model that an organization has in place and what its plans are going forward. Over the course of the pandemic, many had to completely reorient how they work from working in an office to working from their homes. These people have developed a workflow that works for them and the concept of having to change their working method yet again to satisfy the whims of an employer is a pill that is too large to swallow for some.
Many within the workforce are putting more thought into the culture of an organization. This extends beyond salary or surface-level perks like “Casual Friday” or a foosball table. This means an organization with strong leadership that prioritizes employee development. Workers want to feel that their voice is being heard, that they have a work-life balance and to know that their employer prioritizes their mental health.
Now while these are great prescriptions, a closer analysis may be required – one that The Adecco Group have done with their 2021 study “Resetting Normal: Defining the New Era of Work”. The study is referred to by The Adecco Group as “an eight-market study to unearth insights into attitudes, behaviours and the outlook of office-based workers on the future of work”. While the original study was developed in 2020 when the pandemic hit, its 2021 edition is meant to speak to how we move forward and reset normal. The parameters of the study were: The study surveyed 14,800 people across 18 countries.
Countries surveyed include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, among others.
Respondents were aged 18 - 60.
Those surveyed must have had a desk job where they worked more than 20 hours per week and their work must have been altered during the pandemic.
The 5 Key Themes
The Adecco Group really wanted to get a sense of what is on the mind of the workforce. They dove deep by collecting data and responses from their selected respondents. Through this research five key themes emerged, themes that The Adecco Group feels are key areas to focus on as we enter the new normal of work.
1) Hybrid Work: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
“The trend is confirmed. Work is universally hybrid. But what are the consequences for business?”
The study recognizes the prevalence of hybrid working models but ponders the effects that this will have on business. It was found that leaders and workers agree that increased flexibility will be beneficial to both parties. The research found that workers especially see these benefits of hybrid work. The Adecco Group suggests that companies use this shift to focus and bolster their efforts to assist those with disabilities, working parents, and diverse groups. This is important because these are groups who are typically disproportionately affected by changes such as this.
2) Shorter and Flexible: The New Week in Demand
“Flexibility is the new expected standard and workers are calling for a shorter work week”
Shorter work weeks and flexibility are new must-haves for workers. The study cites that the overwhelming majority of workers want employers to revisit the workweek structure. This is an opportunity for employers to rethink how they handle the work week and become more flexible, more agile.
3) Burnout Might Be the Next Worker Pandemic
“Wellbeing and people’s overall mental health is an issue spanning age and gender”
Both issues pertaining to mental health and burnout have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The study found that young leaders have especially felt the burden of burnout. This is deeply unfortunate given that the onus falls on leadership to drive progress forward. Many leaders recognize the significance of this issue. However, the answers are not always obvious and often times leaders find it difficult to identify when a worker may be dealing with burnout.
4) Leaders Must Reconnect the Disconnect
“At a time when we are connected all the time, the workforce has never felt more disconnected. Leaders hold the key to reconnecting employees and re-inventing culture”
In the readjustment of working models, there has been a disconnect and the workforce has suffered. As the report explains, companies have been making strides to remedy this. Leadership development, upskilling, and coaching have been helpful tools in this respect, especially in developing emotional intelligence. However, some data suggest that more needs to be done. Ultimately this will come down to leaders to address this issue. However many feel that leaders and managers are not up to the task in this regard.
5) The Great Re-Evaluation
“There is no great resignation on the horizon but there are warning signs for companies as people re-evaluate what work means to them”
In recent years the term “The Great Resignation” has been an often-used phrase and talking point. This refers to a mass exodus of employees quitting their jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the study concludes that it may be a little overstated. But at the same time, leadership needs to understand the priorities and needs of workers if they hope to retain talent.
Read the Full Report!
Following a turbulent time, the workforce is at a crossroads. Workers and managers alike are attempting to reckon with what they want out of work and are determining the direction that they want organizations to take going forward. In order to get a sense of this, understanding the collective pulse of the workforce is essential – something that the Addeco Group has helped us do with this report. We thank The Adecco Group for helping to move the needle forward in the positive direction as we think about the future of work.
Within this article, we have shared five key themes that The Adecco Group has identified for the future of work. However, we have only scratched the surface of the content that can be found within the report. The thirty-six-page report features plenty of data and insights that help paint the picture of what “The New Normal” may look like. We encourage you to read the full report for yourself.
The Adecco Group. (2021). Resetting Normal 2021. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from https://www.adeccogroup.com/future-of-work/latest-research/resetting-normal-2021/
Pexles.com (Stock photography)