There is a difference of opinion between employees and employers when it comes to planning the future of work with a need for clearer organisational insight into how employees have reevaluated what they need from their workplace, according to a study by NTT.
The new research highlights the satisfaction gap between employers and employees with a significant degree of diversity in employee attitudes towards their own future working preferences.
As per the report, Voice of the Employee (VoE) data showed that when offered a choice of at-home, hybrid, or in-office working arrangements, employees are relatively evenly split between the three, at 30 per cent, 30 per cent, and 39 per cent, respectively.
However it contradicted the opinion of 79 per cent of organisations that employees prefer office working. As per the report, 39 per cent of employees desired full time office working.
“Currently, the narrative is all about remote working – but the reality of employees’ needs is much more complicated, and any failure to accurately assess and respond to that fact presents a serious risk to organisations”, comments Alex Bennett, Global Senior Vice President, GTM Solutions at NTT Ltd.
“These are not mild preferences: we found that work-life balance and commute times are now the two biggest factors people look at when deciding where to work, and so performing well on workforce and workplace strategy will be a real competitive advantage," added Bennett.
Furthermore, there was a near-universal agreement among respondents that remote working has introduced difficulties. 82 per cent of respondents said that it has challenged organisational performance and 81 per cent (82 per cent in APAC) stated that it has been challenging for employees. 63 per cent of CHROs (58 per cent of organisations in APAC), meanwhile, said that employee wellbeing has deteriorated over the course of the pandemic.
"Broad awareness of the issue is not always translating into a realistic assessment of organisational capability, however," the report added.
Compared to operations staff, CEOs are 20 percentage points more likely to believe that their organisation is very effective at managing working hours, 28 points more likely to believe that they are effective at preventing burnout, and 41 points more likely to be very satisfied with their organisation’s employee experience (EX) capabilities, it said.
Only 38 per cent of employees said that their employer fully values their health and wellbeing, and only 23 per cent saying they are very happy working for their employer.
"Acting on the basis of a clear view of employees’ outlooks is being made more difficult by a lack of thorough data and insight collection," the report said.
In terms of data priorities, 52 per cent (55 per cent) of businesses report VoE being a top focus, following workplace analytics at 54 per cent (57 per cent). In spite of this, however, just 39 per cent (41 per cent) of organisations have structured VoE programs, and 37 per cent (38 per cent) employ real-time sentiment analysis, compared to 54 per cent (57 per cent) utilizing employee surveys.
In terms of employee preferences, at 40 per cent, a company’s purpose and values is the third most important factor for choosing where to work. In this area, employees and business leaders are in sync, with 89 per cent (90 per cent) agreeing that environment, social and governance (ESG) objectives are at the heart of the organisation’s agenda.
“I would look at this as a call to shift our thinking from being about actions to being about outcomes”, said Bennett.
“What’s important is not what we do to improve the workplace, but how it actually benefits the workforce – and an organisation cannot know that without a mature approach to measuring employees’ sentiment," said Bennett.
Two thirds of employees said that they’re not yet equipped with all the tools they need to work from home while 55 per cent (56 per cent) of organisations said that they are strongly satisfied that office spaces are ready for hybrid working.
"Nonetheless, 82 per cent (83 per cent) of organisations are engaged in reshaping their office space over the next 12 months to foster an environment of innovation and social connection. Clearly, there’s an awareness on some level that immature workforce strategies will lead to employee discontent, and that work should be led by what people actually need," added Bennett.
The report is based on 1,146 (430 in APAC) interviews across 23 countries.