Welcome to the first part of an exciting two-part series on the future of work. Sima is happy to have Kelly Monahan, the Global Lead Talent Researcher/ Principle Director at Accenture, joining her as the guest for the series.
Research on the future of work
Accenture took an in-depth look at the future of work. They wanted to understand what people need and feel today. So they went out and looked at more than 9300 global workers across ten different industries and ten different countries to represent a global workforce.
They had within their data set 70% workers and 30% leadership. So they could make some comparisons. They found that most people, workers and leaders alike, had similar sentiments.
They wanted to predict what was causing people to feel a certain way or make them want to go back on site.
How people are feeling about work
Some people were optimistic and energized, but the majority were somewhere in the middle and or negative.
A third of the people felt disgruntled. When thinking about the future of work, they were pessimistic, tired, and burned out. They experienced micro-aggressions and felt fatigued.
Going through the motions
About 30% of people said that they were simply going through the motions of life. They were feeling neither negative nor positive. They were unsure and waiting to see how the leadership would make their key decisions about people returning to work before making a true sentiment on how they feel.
About 42% are thriving, optimistic, and energized.
Researchers want to know what is going on underneath to cause those differences in sentiment.
When looking at mental health scores, Accenture looks at a concept called Life Enhancement which is about whether your work is adding to your life or taking away from it.
Net Better Off
Net Better Off is a concept that determines whether or not your job is leaving you better off than most other humans in terms of dignity and money in your pocket.
From a generational perspective, they saw a statistically significant difference with the young people. Gen-Z is struggling the most with mental health, and they tend to be more pessimistic about their future than the other generations. Gen-Xers are also struggling with their mental health, and like Gen-Zers, are unsure about the concepts of Life Enhancement and Net Better Off.
Baby Boomers, however, tend to be pretty optimistic and have adapted well to the new world of work.
Millennials are still fairly optimistic about work and their ability to create change and adapt to the hybrid world.
The key moments in people’s lives tend to impact their expectations and the way they view work.
Gen-Zers tend to be hungry for social connections. They feel a need to leave their parental home, grow up, learn to understand things and be mentored. They need in-person interaction to do that.
The physical world of work
Both millennials and Gen-Z are looking to experience the physical world of work.
Work as an experience Gen-Zers tend to view work as an experience, not just a transactional operation to support life. They want their work to contribute to their life. They tend to view their work and personal identities as one thing, rather than having separate professional and personal identities. So they want to see the companies they work for representing their personal values and ethics.
There has been a profound shift with C-suite leaders. CEOs now tend to feel a need to comment on societal issues.
Important issues for those who work for C-suite companies have become what a company believes in, how it helps society, and its morality, ethics, and values.
Corporations cannot hide
Corporations cannot hide any longer because they are now interacting on platforms where all their comments are visible. The separation between people’s personal and professional lives has also become less clear as a result.
Never before has there been so much complexity for researchers around how people view and treat each other in the workplace.
Eighteen months ago
According to the data, eighteen months ago, 90% of people were still regularly working 9 to 5, on-site, with someone working remotely on the odd occasion.
Accenture defines hybrid as working remotely for at least 25% of the time. They found from their data sets that people ideally wanted it to be about 50%. Hybrid workers typically choose to work outside of the office for 25-75% of their working time.
The big debate around hybrid
The current big debate is around the employees’ personal choice when telling their employers how much time they want to spend working on-site versus the employers telling them when to be there. Being fair and inclusive in those situations is a challenge for those in HR because there is no playbook for them to follow.
The populations where hybrid appeals most
Millennials, baby boomers, and women in minorities appear to have embraced the hybrid model the most. Women tend to play multiple roles. So they prefer having a model where they are less likely to be penalized for doing that.
The challenge is to create cultures, experiences, and visibility, regardless of how people are interacting.
Exciting new trends
Although some exciting new trends are emerging in technology that will make that possible, our brains are still wired for in-person interaction.
Solving for child care is still a problem for working moms going back to work. Although CHOs are trying to get creative in figuring out ways to incentivize working moms, women are still opting out far more than men right now in the narrative around returning to work.
When planning their workforce models, researchers are currently seeing a divergence of strategies. There is no right or wrong, so Kelly advises people to vote with their feet and with what they want.
The people who feel the best
Data shows that the people who feel the best are those who work in a very balanced environment where they have the choice to be hybrid, and their on-site space is calibrated around cutting-edge technology focused on in-person interaction collaboration. Kelly feels that the companies that best support that will win.