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Flex is next: Employee experience must remain a focus for businesses

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Britta Schellenberg
Published on
September 24, 2021

In yoga and meditation practice, the breath anchors us and provides balance. No matter how distracting the world whirling outside, we can focus on the breath as an anchor and regain our balance. 

This is a time of rapid change, with delayed RTO plans, President Biden’s recently-announced vaccine mandates for companies, and the ongoing Delta variant. For companies, their breath is employee experience. Workplace leaders should focus on treating employee experience as an anchor.

As VP of Marketing here at Robin, I read a lot about the hybrid workplace, and every two weeks I share my favorite articles with you.

Feel free to let me know what YOU think. 

The Hartford: 61% of employees feeling burnout and 37% looking to change jobs

A survey from insurer The Hartford finds that burnout rates among U.S. workers remain at historically high levels (61% overall), especially for women (68%, versus 52% for men). The survey finds that burnout is a major reason why 37%  of U.S. employees are currently looking to change jobs, in what has become a national “turnover tsunami.”

What are these “looking-for-a-change” workers looking for in a new job, besides higher compensation? More flexibility about when and where they work. An even more interesting finding is that among the 63% of employees who are not currently looking for a new job, 43% of them said “having a flexible work schedule” was among the key reasons keeping them in the job.

“This high level of burnout and growing gap for women should be cause for alarm for business leaders,” said Jonathan Bennett, head of Employee Benefits at The Hartford. “The need for flexibility in the workplace has never been greater as the lines between work and home continue to be blurred amid the pandemic. Fostering an open, inclusive work environment that provides flexibility is an important step in addressing burnout and helping employees remain productive at work.” 

Fast Company: Key considerations for any RTO plan

Fast Company has an outstanding podcast about the future of work. A recent episode featured insights from author and future of work expert Gwen Moran. Moran offered this advice for any company considering (and reconsidering) RTO plans:

“Not only is the pandemic far from over, but we are also in the middle of the Great Resignation. In order to keep the talent that you have, you really need to make employees part of the decision-making process and keep in touch with what they're thinking and what their comfort levels are.” - Gwen Moran, Future of Work Expert

Employees want flexibility and involvement.

Most employees want to stay working remotely at least some of the time. Leaders should therefore ask themselves some questions before deciding who should come back to the office:

  • Were people working remotely still as productive as you expected them to be?
  • Did remote workers perform as well as they did in the office?
  • Did you provide teams with the right support to thrive regardless of location?

Not everyone needs to be in the office all the time.

BBC: Most workers don’t expect full-time RTO

A new survey from the BBC shows that 70% of workers do not expect to return to the office at the same level as before the pandemic, even after the pandemic ends. 

As in most other surveys, the vast majority of workers said they’d prefer to work from home at least some of the time. The BBC survey also showed a gap between employee expectations and leadership expectations. For instance, 50% of business leaders surveyed said working from home would adversely impact collaboration and innovation, a significantly higher percentage than among the surveyed employees. 

The survey also found that younger and single employees wanted more social contact and mentoring that in-office work environments can provide, while older workers with families appreciated how remote work and flexible scheduling enables them to better balance home and work.

Robin: How to Navigate RTO Changes

A must-read Robin blog post, Communicate workplace requirements with this template, is an outstanding resource for anyone seeking to implement an effective RTO plan, especially in light of the new CDC vaccination mandates for workplaces. The post offers some great advice:

  • Create clear protocols for determining vaccination status: Employers should be ready to implement an organized, confidential process to determine vaccination status.
  • Decide if you will mandate the vaccine or allow weekly testing: Some employers may choose to not allow weekly testing, as the logistics of keeping, tracking and administering test results can be complicated and costly.
  • Build a plan for handling accommodation requests: If you plan to have a mandated vaccination policy, you must also prepare a detailed and clear accommodation policy for any employee exempted from the vaccine for religious or disability reasons. 
  • Plan for tracking test results: Employers who do decide to allow weekly testing will need to find out if they will have to cover the cost to test. 

Robin is always here to help, enabling you to: communicate with your teams, manage who comes into the office, see where workers are for tracking and contact tracing purposes, send health screenings to anyone using the office, and restrict office capacity to meet social distancing requirements. 

Thank you for reading and see you again in two weeks.

Meanwhile, continue to focus on your breath-as-an-anchor (i.e., your employee experience) and remain balanced — you need to breathe in and breathe out, pushing away the distractions as you continue to plan and adjust RTO policies.

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Productivity and Proximity in the Workplace