Just as consumers are more preoccupied by their overall health and wellness, so this has spilled over into expectations as workers. This is a holistic subject that involves mental, physical and emotional well-being but also takes into account the need for greater fairness and diversity.
People expect employers to help them become a better version of themselves and to be in tune with the outside world rather than behind the curve.
Pursuit of wellbeing and happiness
Employees have high expectations for their workplace environment, driven by their consumer experience outside of work. Organisations must design workplaces that support comfort and wellness if they want to keep employees satisfied, engaged and productive. Research from Gartner found, that employees who are satisfied with their workplace are 16% more productive, 18% more likely to stay, and 30% more attracted to the company vs. competitors. Happiness in the workplace is also a good investment : the cost of unhappiness is estimated at €12,600 per employee per year in the private sector in France.
Moreover, as diversity in terms of gender, age and ethnicity continues to grow in companies, employees expect an inclusive workplace where the needs of each employee are taken into account.
87% of employees expect their employer to support them in balancing work and personal commitments (source: Forbes, 2019)
89% of workers at companies that support well-being initiatives are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work
(source: Forbes, 2019)
67% of job seekers say a diverse workforce is important when choosing a job offer
(source : Glassdoor)
15% of workers in the UK are constantly monitoring business emails outside working hours.
(source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)
90% of Millennials surveyed worldwide check their smartphone before getting dressed, eating, brushing their teeth or even getting up. (source: Cisco Connected World 2012)
On average, a user touches their phone 2617 times a day, almost twice a minute. (source: Putting a Finger on Our Phone Obsession, Dscout, 2016)
Fast and Slow
In our ultra-fast, data saturated society, time is becoming the ultimate luxury for many including when we’re at work. Recent research on Internet addiction shows it to be a recognized psychological problem.
Constant digital distractions can take a toll on the mind, and many people actually never take a real break from their work, the media and their devices.
The "Always On" work culture is increasingly being criticized. Some countries, such as France, have already included it in their labour codes.
Unsurprisingly, applications are emerging to help us to limit the time spent on other applications on our devices. For example, Google has just launched three new applications: Envelope, Activity Bubbles and Screen Stopwatch for this purpose. The renewed popularity of "Dumb Phones" reflects a tendency to give up technology to better preserve it.
Finding ways to re-connect with yourself and take a break from all the data is also becoming more popular. Meditation apps are exploding: in 2019 the top 10 highest-grossing meditation apps generated $195m in revenues: a 52% year on year increase.
Health in a pandemic world
In a post covid context, health, hygiene and safety in the workplace have become hot topics and this isn’t going away anytime soon. The employees’ journey on the workplace need to be redesigned for better and safer interactions. According to recent LinkedIn research, 47% of workers say their primary concern about returning to a physical workspace is exposure to others who are not taking safety guidelines seriously. Concern for the subject is not just a legal issue, it’s about making employees want to come back to the office again.
The rise of employee empowerment
Employee disengagement is at an astounding 85%, a global “norm” resulting in approximately $7tn in lost productivity. The main reason is that in this mission driven, agile world, employees are looking for a more personal and real sense of purpose and the autonomy in their daily lives at work to pursue their own objectives and not more management jargon and corporate communication. A whole series of organizational innovations have been put in place: horizontal enterprise, holacracy, shared governance, tribal organization... Although these models are still in their infancy, their diversity is a weak signal regarding the erosion of the bureaucratic, vertical authority model of the corporation. This trend can also be seen in the rise of intrapreneurship, which gives employees the means to change their organization. In a Deloitte study conducted in France in 2019, 72% of participants said they were attracted by intrapreneurship.
Empower means profit: highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability (source: Forbes, 2019)
Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work
(source: Forbes, 2019)
Disengaged employees cost U.S. companies up to $550bn a year (source: Forbes, 2019)
OPPORTUNITIES & CHALLENGES
Keep it safe
In the short term/pandemic world, companies need to re-define the way they work to best protect their employees. Beyond the promotion of remote working, employees, as well as their governments, expect them to monitor workers’ health and adapt offices to avoid risky contact between employees or with objects that could be contaminated. Companies have had to reinforce their hygiene measures but many feel overwhelmed vs. the complexity of rules that change to deal with new waves of Covid-19. Startups have grasped this potential and are starting to deploy solutions. Proptech are also positioning themselves, with the first contactless offices opening in Australia and Estonia. Elsewhere, certain sectors such as hotels are promoting certified approaches to cleaning and hygiene to reassure worried clients as with Accor’s All Safe cleaning standards label.
Beyond that, companies must seriously consider the well-being of their employees in a holistic way if they want to remain attractive and productive. This means considering 3 different dimensions:
Physical factors such as movement, good ergonomics and healthy activity/behaviours
Emotional elements including mood, stress, security, and connection to outdoors
Environmental aspects such as comfort from air, light, temperature, and acoustics
Addressing these needs is a big business opportunity; the Workplace Wellness market, estimated at $46.8bn in 2018 is expected to grow steadily over the next years up to $74bn by 2026.
The emerging ‘Slow Working’ movement focuses on quality and focus rather than speed of turnaround and multi-tasking, with time spent on doing essential work properly in a shorter time rather than maximizing time at work. Startups and countries are promoting the 4 day week. Microsoft experimented with a 4-day workweek in its Japanese subsidiary in summer 2019 and productivity jumped by 40%.
Tim Ferris’s bestseller ‘The 4 hour week’ has sold more than 2m copies, and is a reference in the startup community, provides a range of productivity hacks to explain how to escape the 9-5 work week.
Cut the digital cord and feel free
Even if the notion of a ‘digital detox’ can remain something of a fantasy, there is clearly a growing desire to reduce dependency on digital devices. This creates opportunities for organizations that want to help their own employees or their client’s employees consciously to take back control of their device usage and create device / content free moments. As well as gains in ‘productivity’ linked to reduced time wastage, there are multiple health and wellness gains to be add from reducing time spent on screens from increased ability to concentrate and carry out tasks efficiently, to greater empathy and connection with the external, physical world.
Power to the people
Increasing diversity & empowerment requires changing the overall culture of an organisation preferably throughout the lifecycle of the employee: from the recruitment process to the day to day work. This means starting from the needs and identity of the person as opposed to imposing a fixed ‘norm’ that is defined by a dominant group within the company.
These changes in expectations regarding the meaning of work and the ways in which employees ‘come to work’ bring many challenges for companies: how to match the company’s mission and the individual desires of employees? How to support managers in the change towards more horizontal structures? How to enable workers to empathise with those that are not like them?
SO WHAT FOR LYRECO?
How can Lyreco help our employees to focus and create value by having a better quality of focus?
How can we further help companies to create a secure working environment in the current pandemic context (going beyond PPE for example)?
What services might be required to help employees deal with this new ‘hygiene driven’ environment?
How can we take advantage of the workplace wellness market? In particular, how to offer solutions and services that increase physical/emotional well-being in any workplace?
What partners and approaches will be needed to understand the needs of different working environments and the workers within them to create the best experience?
Who is championing inclusivity and diversity within Lyreco? What are the key goals here and the resources that will help to achieve them?
How could Lyreco become a ‘diverse / well work-place’ expert and turn this expertise into an offer to help its clients include marginalised populations (women, people of colour, older workers, the disabled)?