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What does tomorrow's workforce want from the “New Normal”?

The pandemic has proved that resilient employees make an organization come out stronger on the other side.

Additionally, the current employment crisis shows that good employees are hard to retain, and in a market that desperately needs workers, you have to up your HR game. Talent development and recognition programs are still a top priority, but there's also a need for practices that anticipate what tomorrow's workforce truly wants.

One company set out to find out what that is, so they asked some important questions in their Work 2035 project, such as:

How will workers be organized to deliver value?

How will people partner with technology, and will we see the emergence of human-machine teaming? 

What new opportunities will workers be afforded, and what novel pitfalls will they face? 

What does tomorrow's workforce want?

Needless to say, employees want fair wages and competitive compensation packages. Other than that, the findings of the Work 2035 project can help you get a better understanding of what employees want now and in the future, as the “new normal” seems to be a permanent situation. These are:

Flexibility above all else 

One of the key findings was that 88 percent of highly skilled professionals look for complete flexibility — as a characteristic of their work schedule and location.

Eighty-three percent of them also believe that companies will offer jobs regardless of geographical boundaries due to the global skilled worker shortage. However, only 66 percent of the HR directors interviewed shared this view.

Seventy-six percent said that they’re more likely to prioritize their family, personal interests and health over proximity to work. In other words, only Jobs that guarantee a good work-life balance fit these criteria. Furthermore, 83 percent think that workers will be likely to leave the urban areas if they can work most of the time remotely. The creation of new hubs in rural locations is a high probability.

Read more: What managers should do to ease work-related stress in their teams

Diversity is not just a “trend”

There’s been a lot of talk around the emerging showbusiness trend of being highly inclusive. The research shows that it’s not a fad, but a reflection of what people want, including in the workplace. There seems to be consensus about working in companies that prioritize diversity.

Eighty-six percent of employees say that a diverse workforce will become even more important as job roles, competencies, and company requirements become increasingly flexible and change dramatically over time.

HR directors are, again, more reserved, with only 66 percent saying that diversity at work is highly relevant. Companies need to get ahead on their DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) programs, be aware of existing gaps, and gear their efforts towards building diverse teams that are effective and make a positive impact.

Read more: Talent development for better Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Rethinking productivity metrics

The days of clocking in and out of the office are clearly over. Productivity is no longer quantifiable in the number of hours an employee puts in. Today's employees want their work to be measured by its value. They want to be granted autonomy and feel trusted to make the best decisions related to their projects.

Looking at the numbers, 86 percent of employees said they would prefer to work for a company that prioritizes outcomes over output. Consequently, they favor organizations that care more about the impact a person's work makes than about the quantitative output.

However, there's a gap between the employees' views and what HR directors say. Only half of the latter believe that the company they work in would be more productive with this approach. Companies that worry less about control and become more people-centric will have a competitive advantage.

Read more: How learning technologies help improve employee productivity

L&D needs to become a priority

It's obvious that HR executives have some catching up to do where the workforce's needs and wants are concerned. Above all else, L&D needs to have a leading position. With new business models being encouraged by the global crisis, upskilling and reskilling are vital.

Eighty-two percent of employees and 62 percent of HR directors think that workers will need to sharpen their existing skills or acquire new ones at least once a year to stay competitive on the job market.

HR directors also think using collaborative technology for learning is essential in hiring and retaining top talent. Eighty-eight percent of employees agree with this statement, as it’s something they look for whenever they search for a new job.

Read more: 4 Ways to encourage collaboration within a remote workforce

What do employees want?

The pandemic fast-forwarded transformations that were already underway and brought new developments to the job market. Companies that want to attract and keep top talent need to understand what they want and their new priorities. Offering flexibility, autonomy, and the possibility of evolving in a diverse environment are a few of them.