Jobs and the Future of Work

What do employees want most from their work life in 2022?

People socialising and working together

The dynamics of today’s labour market are shifting as employees adopt new priorities and reinvent the how, why and where of working life. Image: Unsplash/Brooke Cagle

Johnny Wood
Writer, Forum Agenda
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Future of Work

  • The growth of remote working is causing many employees to rethink how they approach their work day.
  • Workers are looking to their employer to prioritize wellbeing and purpose.
  • Flexible working conditions, work-life balance and skills development are also seen as increasingly important.

“People power is on the up”.

This is one of the key messages of a new survey of labour-market dynamics, which looks at why many of today’s employees are re-evaluating their approach to work.

The study by employment services provider Manpower Group, "The Great Realization," found that workplace happiness is coming to the fore, with employees expecting more from employers than good pay and traditional benefits.

Pandemic-induced life changes have prompted a work-life balance reset for many, leading to global media reports of a “great resignation”. Switching from office life to remote working and other changes have caused many to question the how, when and where of their workday expectations.

Such trends are not new but newly urgent, says the report.

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What is the Forum doing about keeping workers well?

The rise of the home office

Remote working has been growing steadily in popularity among parts of the global workforce for some time. A Statista survey of work trends prior to COVID-19 shows a gradual increase in home working over the past decade, which spiked suddenly as the pandemic hit.

A chart to show how long respondents have been working remotely
The pandemic has accelerated the trend for remote working. Image: Statista

Wellbeing and shared culture

Swapping the 9-5 office routine for a desk at home has changed employee expectations, with individual choice now the preserve of the many rather than the few, the Manpower study notes.

Many individuals are looking to employers to prioritize flexibility and skills development, including workers having the freedom to decide their start and finish times, to enjoy increased vacation days and fully flexible work options.

Wellbeing and purpose are also important priorities, with almost half of workers prepared to move to a new organization to improve their wellbeing.

People sitting and discussing in an office
The rise of remote working is changing employee expectations. Image: Unsplash/Jason Goodman
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The changing work landscape means employers need to rethink their duty of care to include mental wellness. Staff are increasingly looking for support to prevent burnout, build resilience and increase mental fitness - such as mental health non-working days.

An increased sense of shared values and culture is taking shape, with a heightened focus on building trust and cohesion within teams, especially where employees interact remotely. Three quarters of employees surveyed by Manpower want to feel motivated and passionate about the work they do.

With both talent shortages and hiring difficulties reaching a 15-year high, companies that invest in their employee experience will be well placed to retain existing staff and attract newcomers.

Employees, consumers and other stakeholders are choosing to engage with companies that prioritize people, communities and champion social challenges and the environment. And in the age of instant communications through social media, the actions of companies and other organizations matter more than ever.

In its 2021 white paper "The Future of the Corporation" the World Economic Forum highlights the need for businesses to understand the impact of remote working on workplace culture: “The remote environment has acted as a great leveller and reduced hierarchies, making it easier for those with a weaker voice to engage, as well as allowing senior managers to realize they can reach staff far junior to them without intermediary levels of management”.

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Jobs and the Future of WorkWellbeing and Mental Health
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