Mastering flexible working to thrive despite economic uncertainty

Mastering flexible working to thrive despite economic uncertainty

Mastering flexible working to thrive despite economic uncertainty

At the start of 2020, the US economy was ripe for business. We were living in the “good old days”, marked by low interest rates, low or no inflation and stable and sustainable economic growth. But the “good old days” are over.

According to our research at Vistage, CEO confidence has changed dramatically every quarter over the past two years, with sudden peaks and declines faster than in the seven years before the pandemic. Higher inflation, geopolitical strife, protracted hiring woes, supply chain slowdowns, and sky-high oil prices are among the factors driving U.S. business confidence in the second half of 2022. CEOs have begun to accept disruption as part of their new reality. .

Subsequently, business leaders focus on areas over which they have more control, such as talent. Whether we are entering or already in recession, we are not experiencing the job losses traditionally associated with economic downturns. The labor market has consistently exceeded expectations and unemployment has remained at near record levels. The right talent is there, but hiring and retention remain the main challenges. Talent today has a choice of roles – if they are unhappy with their current pay or culture, they are empowered to join the big upgrade and find a role that better suits their needs .

To approach hiring and retention in a meaningful way, it’s important for leaders to first understand the modern worker. Accelerated by the growing dominance of Millennials and Gen Z in the workplace, the modern worker is empowered. They are looking for a job that matches their needs, instead of finding a job they can fit into. They expect their organization to align with their values ​​and they want their daily tasks to have some kind of bigger meaning. They are no longer willing to settle for a job that does not allow them to live the life they want.

As the modern worker proliferates in the workplace, the traditional Monday-Friday 9am-5pm being the ultimate solution for all workplaces is on its last breath. CEOs who attempt to resurrect their old tenures for teams that have embraced hybrid working during the pandemic are often met with resistance. In fact, a recent ADP survey found that two-thirds of the workforce would consider looking for a new job if asked to be in person full-time. More than half (52%) said they would take a pay cut to have more flexibility. Most CEOs can’t afford to lose this battle.

Yet this shift comes with its own set of challenges for leaders. CEOs report a decrease in corporate culture and collaboration due to remote work. Frontline bosses struggle to manage hybrid teams. CEOs are looking for a silver bullet to power the future of flexible working, but finding the right formula for working in person versus working from home isn’t prescriptive. Each team within each organization must find what works best for them, which will require continuous trial and error. This is new territory for all of us. But if properly harnessed, it represents the potential to unleash the next wave of human productivity.

CEOs who master flexibility – from offering training and reskilling programs tailored to managing modern teams, to updating technology to better serve hybrid workers, to redesigning the shared office to better meet the needs of in-person work, seeking flexible hours for businesses that can’t – can increase retention, boost hiring efforts, and withstand the headwinds of a volatile and unpredictable economy for the coming years. Leaders who create an environment that allows employees to seamlessly transition from autonomous to collaborative tasks will eliminate the need for oversight. Instead, encourage employees to take an active role in determining the level of hybrid that makes them most efficient and productive.

The “good old days” may be over or, perhaps, we are just entering it. By recognizing what employees want and desire, we are ushering in a new wave of work that puts employees first. Regardless of what the economy does or doesn’t do, having the talent in place will set companies up for long-term success.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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