Bosses must provide ‘omni-connected experience’ to workers post-pandemic

As talent markets continue to tighten in the aftermath of the pandemic, new research suggests nearly half of people don’t feel a “human sense” of connection to their work. Bosses pushing their staff back to the office also don’t seem likely to help, as people who attended on-site work actually turned out to be the ‘least connected’.

The months of lockdown have challenged preconceptions about the need for all workers to be on site to stay productive. While remote work was not without its own challenges, most workers appreciated the flexibility it gave them – and productivity was greatly improved as a result. Other research has suggested that leaving the office has created a disconnect that will “kill company culture”.

Because of this, a debate continues to rage over whether working life should simply return to “business as usual” with the rollback of lockdown restrictions. Many employers are even deploying flexibility as a way to woo new hires in a competitive talent market. But some ‘old-fashioned’ business leaders fiercely condemn the idea that staff should have the ability to self-govern – Alan Sugar recently called flexible working advocates at PwC ‘lazy’ for example.

Bosses willing to force their staff back to the office in the name of a “unified culture” or “ensure productivity” may be shooting themselves in the foot, however, new research from Accenture suggests. The study – which surveyed 1,100 C-level executives and 5,000 workers of all skill levels globally in the middle of last year – found that companies where people feel highly connected are expected to earn 7, 4% additional revenue growth each year. However, only one in six respondents said they actually felt “strongly connected” at work – and this was the worst among on-site employees.

When asked how connected they felt to their work “in a human sense”, 42% of workers engaged only in on-site activities said they did not feel connected. It was worse than those working on hybrid models, at 36%; and almost double the number of people working from home but feeling “disconnected”; at 22%.

No quick fix

Many companies clearly thought that a quick fix was to get everyone back to work onsite, assuming a “human connection” would happen – but it didn’t turn out that simple. According to Ellyn Shook, director of leadership and human resources at Accenture, part of the reason so many workers, especially those in the office full-time, are so out of touch is that they feel ignored by senior management. direction.

“People want choice,” Shook said. “I really believe that listening and acting on what you hear can really solve this problem.”

Leadership Traits Modern CEOs Prioritize

So how can companies really connect with their people? Accenture has found that part of the process begins with leadership – or rather, what characteristics employees would like to see embodied in their managers. Around 34% of respondents said empathy and transparency were the main characteristics, while 30% said trustworthiness was important. Ultimately, therefore, organizations need to invest in developing leaders who make people feel safe and respected – who listen when staff speak up on issues such as the need for flexible working, without letting them feel “diminished because they chose to express themselves or show their vulnerability”.

Beyond that, companies could also build bridges by offering “omni-connected experiences” – ensuring staff feel supported on multiple fronts. This means that in the midst of the cost of living crisis, companies must guarantee the financial stability of their workers. They must also have emotional and mental support, be able to make healthy life choices, while inclusive workplaces must allow them to create a sense of belonging, and their work must have a demonstrable element to make the world better. In the meantime, we must offer them the possibility of improving their skills through training, so that they can evolve within a company, or outside it.

Shook concluded, “By creating omni-connected experiences, leaders put relationships first and level the playing field so that each person can work to their full potential in a way that works for them, which builds trust.” and drives business results.

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