Working wisely - August 2022

In this edition of our Working Wisely series, we look at some aspects of modern work culture that are affecting us today. Let’s take a look at some trends.

The Great Resignation

The Great Resignation is an economic trend where people are resigning en masse across the world.
According to PWC, 1 in 5 workers globally are planning to quit their job in 2022. 
This trend has mainly affected the 30-45 mid-tier age group due to a variety of reasons.

Why are people resigning?

People feel more job security post-Covid and those who were thinking of resigning during Covid held off, essentially creating this pent-up demand.

With the rise of remote work opportunities, employing people with little experience - say in that 20-year-old age bracket - is riskier to hire in a remote working environment, giving the 30-45-year-old age group greater leverage in securing new positions.

When we took a look at the most commonly recognized reasons for the resignations, the top factors were:

  • high workloads
  • hiring freezes
  • personal pressures

These reasons are causing the increase in demand for better and more flexible working opportunities.

And in fact, 92% of Millennials identify flexibility as a top priority when job hunting.

Workplace flexibility

Workplace flexibility in terms of location, timezone, and contracted hours is industry-specific but is much more common across various workplaces today than it was 10 years ago.

In the EU & the UK, it has actually been legislated. The ability to request flexible work is a legal right. According to Deloitte’s latest survey on Millenials and Gen Zs, the main reason for the prioritization of flexibility is because remote work frees up time to do other things, like seeing family, reducing commuting time, and pursuing personal interests, which all have a significant impact on mental health.

HR experts say that businesses that don’t offer any kind of flexible work options are losing out on up to 70% of the job market. But blurring the lines between personal interests, family, and work-life comes at a price.

Work-life balance

80% of Millennials say that they seriously consider how a position will affect their work-life balance.

Work-life balance is about achieving the right balance between personal and professional aspects of life.

This concept of ‘giving workers a break’ can be traced back to the Industrial revolution when unions and industrialists realized that workers required a day or 2 days off per week.

Recent advances in tech and also the impact of Covid19, have led to this ‘always-on’ work culture.

Smartphones and laptops make it harder for people to switch off from work completely and genuinely rest after hours, on the weekend, or even during holidays. Evidence shows that this 'always-on' culture has a significant impact on physical and mental health, increases stress, and jeopardizes well-being.

In summary, Millennials, who make up the bulk of the workforce, are hot in the job market. Macro trends are forcing employers to cater to the rising demand for flexible working conditions. Work-life balance is more important than ever, with modern technology creating this 'always-on' culture.

So let's dig a bit deeper into these modern working conditions. time allocation feature and girl on skateboard
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Burnout and stress in the workplace

The WHO highlights the key catalyst for burnout and stress in the workplace is poor communication and processes.

With “burnout” now officially recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a syndrome, the responsibility for managing it has shifted away from the individual and towards the organization. A survey of 7,500 full-time employees by Gallup found the top reasons for burnout in the workplace are:

  • Unmanageable workload
  • Lack of clarity
  • Lack of communication and support from their manager
  • Unreasonable time pressure

What is the impact on the individual, if employers don’t take these reasons for burnout seriously?

Workplace stress is estimated to be the 5th largest cause of death in the United States.

Stanford Professor Jeffery Pfeffer in his book Dying for a Paycheck outlines that Workplace stress – the result of conditions like long hours, a lack of health insurance, little autonomy on the job, and high job demands - is killing us.

Pfeffer claims that companies need to get serious about creating a workplace where people feel valued, trusted, and respected, where they are engaged in their work, and also where they can get home in time for dinner. To create a healthy working environment we need to take creating healthy communication channels and processes seriously.

Employer challenges with remote setup

What problems do employers face as a result of catering to these demands from their employees? Accountability & productivity are increasingly difficult to monitor in a hybrid work setup. No facetime in the office can lead to both an increase in the number of meetings and a decline in quality.

People are on remote meeting overdrive, with calendars filled with back-to-back meetings. Because there is no room for casual office chats by the water cooler, the reliance on ‘self’ reporting in a hybrid work model creates inconsistencies and bias. For instance, I could keep my Slack status active whilst watching Netflix in the background and logging 8 hours of work. 

Instead of tracking logged hours of work, workplaces are shifting towards measuring business outcomes.

So for instance, if I have a presentation to finish by Tuesday afternoon, perhaps I will work over the weekend to meet my deadline. The point is that people can be over or under-working in a remote work setup, and this can be difficult to monitor.

So what is the answer to this cultural paradigm?

  • higher cases of burnout in the workplace
  • an increase in demand for flexible working conditions
  • a lack of transparency in terms of productivity
It's all about balance
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How to monitor productivity in the workplace

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Tools to manage your workload

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