June 29, 2021 – With U.S. coronavirus infections at their lowest levels, more Americans are making their long-anticipated return to the office. Over the course of the pandemic most companies adopted remote working to creatively combat the challenges presented by quarantines and other COVID-19 related precautions. But according to a landmark global workforce survey conducted by Careerminds and Hunt Scanlon Media, with over 100,000 employees and HR leaders participating, a majority of respondents now believe the shift to hybrid work, combining in-office and at-home locations, is underway and likely to remain a permanent fixture of the new workplace. The systemic shift to flexibility is improving the employee experience and promoting a better work-life balance. It is also giving companies a competitive advantage in attracting, recruiting, retaining, and outplacing employees.
The positives born out of the new flexible workforce were made explicit in the survey results: A full 80 percent of HR professionals said the new flexible workforce made their company a better and more competitive place to work. Sixty-one percent of employees polled agreed.
The Careerminds / Hunt Scanlon workforce survey provided the best insight yet on what the future of work will look like and how it is benefitting the recruitment and retention of employees. Half of all HR respondents said the new, flexible workforce improved retention and nearly 60 percent said it has already bolstered their ability to attract top talent. With more flexible work scheduling and commute options, companies can now recruit from a wider, and more diverse, talent pool concluded the report.
“We are in the midst of the most transformational period I’ve ever seen inside the American workplace,” said Raymond Lee, CEO of Careerminds. “Our survey results provide all the reasons why companies are moving to a flexible workforce future and Careerminds supports that,” he said.
Inside the Findings
HR Leaders said the top three reasons for the shift to remote work are to promote better work-life balance, attract and retain top talent, and deliver better employee experience. Cost savings was the least responded reason. Over 65 percent of employees believe that hybrid workplaces are the future. For Patrick Higgins, people and organization director at Mars Wrigley, workforce flexibility is no longer in the hands of corporations. His advice for companies: “Get on board or get left behind.”
New Expectations for the Future of Work
According to a landmark global workforce survey conducted by Careerminds and Hunt Scanlon Media with over 100,000 employees and HR leaders participating, a majority of respondents now believe the shift to hybrid work, combining in-office and at-home locations, is underway and likely to remain a permanent fixture of the new workplace. The shift to flexibility is improving the employee experience and promoting a better work-life balance. It is also giving companies a competitive advantage in attracting, recruiting, retaining, and outplacing employees. Click here to read more!
The survey found that 70 percent of top HR leaders are shifting to a remote workforce and 68 percent say the reason is to promote a better work/life balance. HR’s top reasons for shifting to a remote workforce: Sixty-eight percent said to promote better work-life balance; 58 percent said the ability to attract top talent; 57 percent said better employee experience; 51 percent said to improve retention; 47 percent said to expand talent pool; and 45 percent said cost savings.
There are many factors that make companies stronger and more competitive with a remote workforce, such as expanding their talent pool. Mark Hovey, CHRO of Cianbro Corp., said that in light of advances in technology and working virtually, “companies are now reassessing flexible work schedules in order to attract, recruit and retain talent.” Flexibility is the weapon of choice in the new war for talent. For employees, 70 percent are adjusting easily to the new flexible workforce. For 81 percent of human resource executives, the new flexible workforce has made companies stronger and more competitive. When asked how challenging people found it adjusting to the new flexible workforce, 70 percent said easy while 30 percent said difficult.
The Future of Work
Instilling a culture remotely and employee engagement are viewed as the top two challenges caused by shifting to a hybrid/ remote workforce. “This past year has really changed the dynamics of the global workplace,” said Kyle P. Kane, executive vice president and CHRO at Northwest Bank. “While nothing can truly replace the benefits of working side-by-side with your colleagues, the seamless transition to remote work and flexible work environments has really flipped the perspective.” The key decision every company must now make, he said, is to what extent – and how – these flexible options fit into your culture.
Eighty-two percent of top human resources professionals predict the future of work to be a hybrid workplace. Workplace options that best describe companies’ futures: Eighty-two percent said hybrid; 15 percent responded remote; and nine percent said in office. When asked what were the biggest challenges caused by shifting to a hybrid/remote work: sixty-seven percent said lack of company culture; 50 percent said employee engagement; 43 percent said communications/technical problems; 41 percent said longer hours; 40 percent said workforce not engaged; 29 percent said training; 29 percent said adjusting to a tech savvy work environment; 11 percent responded other; and six percent said pay equity.
Remote Work and Diversity
Diversity and inclusion is a key initiative for executives and HR leaders and is positively impacted by a flexible workforce, according to the report. According to Margaret-Ann Cole, chief people and transformation officer at Porter Novelli, the way and where of work will be changing constantly. “The businesses that thrive in the future will be designing their operating models based on input from employees and using new methods and tools of collaboration,” she said. “Culture becomes more important than ever before, making empathy and inclusivity core to good leadership.”
Culture, DE&I, and engagement are the top three priorities for 2021. Seventy-seven percent of HR Leaders feel a remote workforce expands diversity. HR’s top priorities for 2021: Seventy-seven percent said employee engagement; 67 percent said culture; 62 percent said diversity, equity, and inclusion; 38 percent said people working remotely; and 21 percent responded with other.
Survey findings are based on data gathered by Careerminds and Hunt Scanlon Media. The survey was conducted globally from April 6 -27, and targeted top human resources professionals and employees. For this survey, and corresponding polls, over 100,000 respondents were asked about their employment, company size and thoughts on the ongoing shift to the new flexible workforce.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media