Since March 2020 the workplace has seen a paradigm shift with respect to how business owners, managers and leaders run their organizations. Prior to the pandemic the phrase “workstyle” meant understanding how employees best perform within an environment and how to set them up to succeed in their jobs. Post pandemic “workstyle” means so much more. Immediately parents with young and school-age children had to cobble together a plan to home school, work, clean, cook and go on the occasional safari for toilet paper and other basic home supplies. It was inevitable that these employees began reassessing what was important in life for themselves and their families.
The Federal and state governments sent out benefits in an unprecedented manner. All of a sudden, these governments were in competition with the workplace with respect to workers. The $15/hour mantra fell to the wayside as unemployment benefits and other programs made more sense for workers to stay home. Indeed, a single parent who was working as a restaurant server had more resources when staying at home when the benefits were added in. No one can blame someone for doing what’s right economically for their family.
Once employees began the process of returning to work, a lot of questions were raised:
- Our local school district sometimes does not have enough bus drivers. Can I either come to work later or leave early to get my kids to and from school?
- Our company is located in a multi-use building. I do not feel comfortable riding on an elevator with others, sharing a bathroom or generally being in a communal space any longer.
- I was really efficient working from home and wish to continue to do so.
- During the pandemic, I realized how much my family meant to me. I need to have the elasticity to put my family first.
Current research dictates that 41% of employees in the United States have either changed jobs or considering a change within the next year. The younger the employee, the more considerations need to be made. The days of the “cubicle farm” and writing someone up for being a few minutes late are over—at least for the short term.
What do employees want? Flexibility, a family-first corporate culture and a work environment that feels positive, supportive and safe. Employees who still want to work are incredibly valuable. They deserve the efforts needed to create the appropriate workplace for them to thrive. There are some who may reject the idea of creating a “workstyle” for employees however I believe that the best organizations will rise to the challenge and embrace the “new normal”.
Those who put all the pieces together that run like clockwork to create an outstanding “workstyle” will have the most valuable assets—Loyal, enthusiastic employees who understand that their employer appreciates their lifestyle outside of work and wants to work with employees to create the optimal work/life balance.