The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work and live. Organizations are applying lessons from the pandemic to their plans as they see a new shape of work emerging — one that has profound implications for people, employers and investors.
You know, one thing I've really enjoyed during the last 18 months has been how we've all formed our own truths and predictions about the future of work. As we've been locked in our homes, our word actually got larger, as we saw beyond our jobs, and started to think about our lives in a truly new lens.
One of the truths that I'm hearing more and more is that employees do not want to work for you. It doesn't matter how good your benefits are, how good your rewards are, how progressive your flexible working policies are. Nobody wants to work for you. But they do want you to work with them. And this is a fundamental reset, of what work experience and the work partnership actually looks like. No surprise, we're also seeing a number of people leaving their companies and their professions for good as part of the great resignation. I think our current research shows that two out of five organizations are finding that year-on-year voluntary attrition is up. And this is set to continue as we start to embrace new jobs, new ways of working, and people start to find their voice about what's right for them.
So what's driving this big shift? Well, first and foremost, people's values have changed. What they want in a responsible employer looks different to what it looks pre pandemic, and they're wanting employers to intimately understand what's important for them, but maybe they haven't had the opportunity to interact in ways that they did before. Secondly, I think there's a heightened alertness to equity and justice, and how bold organizations are on this stance and some of these topics is also playing into the agenda. And finally, I think we really recognize just the urgency around delivering skills at scale. We saw unprecedented agility brought about that during the pandemic. I know many organizations are looking to build their skills agenda into their new way of thinking about work and work movement in their organizations. Employees are also recognizing that it's critical for them to build those valued skills to ensure that they are marketable and employable in the future.
People risk is one thing that I've heard a lot about this year, whether it was board directors, executives, or HR professionals. Our recent research on this topic showed that workforce exhaustion is a top people risk that many are experiencing this year. The challenge with this one is this is the one that both risk managers and HR feel that they're not well equipped today to adequately respond. If we want to ensure that our workforce feel engaged and their energy levels don't continue to be depleted, getting this right is going to be absolutely critical. You know, it's interesting, I recently saw a study saying that one of the best ways to shoot your engagement scores up is to work with your employees in shaping the future of work and I truly believe in that. From consulting work those organizations that are actively dialoguing with their people on what is the future of total rewards, what is the future of the work experience? What are the must win battles we need to win? As a consequence, what are the skills in the future? They are definitely ahead in terms of having a workforce committed to their futures.
The conversation in the press at the moment is very much around what will bring you back to the workplace. I think the more important question what will bring your workforce back in terms of energy and emotions? I think as we start to embrace a much more transparent world, particularly with regard to human capital metrics, we realize that trust is such a vital commodity, both at the enterprise level but also at the manager level, we do need to think about how do we listen to the quiet signals in the wider environment? How do we look intentionally at our own organization and how different populations are experiencing it, so we can stay ahead of those trends, and be very proud of the progress that we're making on some of our important commitments.
And talking about commitments, this definitely has been a year of leading companies making bold commitments. Whether it was Unilever saying that by 2030, they want to make sure that they have skilled their workforce for the skills of tomorrow, or by 2025 they want to make sure that they've got flexible working for everyone throughout the organization. Whether it's Stanley Black and Decker, who made some bold commitments around moving their diversity in their supply chain from 3% to 10% by proactively engaging by women owned or minority owned companies. Or whether it's Zurich whose made some strong commitments about wanting to uphold sustainable people practices throughout their organizations. The challenge, of course, will be ensuring that we deliver on those commitments throughout our entities, often with the backdrop of rapid M&A, and rapid transformation.
I think everybody appreciates that embracing this new and exciting shape of work is a challenge for us all. And we'll only get there when we share our knowledge and expertise on this topic. I'm often asked what's the center of many people's transformation plans. And I would say three interweaving topics are very much front of mind. One, how do we reinvent for value? How do we think differently about how we can be lean? And how we can scale? How can we think differently about targeting those benefits and employee experiences that really resonate with our people so we do reinvent what people value and ensure we deliver value back to our shareholders. I'm also hearing them talk about reinventing for flexibility, as I said, skills, and the link to agility has become absolutely critical. And employees views about what they want on that front are constantly evolving, getting that right, it's going to be critical this year. And finally reinventing for sustainability. Most organizations are looking to grow but to grow with that sustainability lens and put sustainability at the heart of their transformation agenda. Not just holding it to the executive level scorecards but cascading it through some of the activities within the organization. I think together these can have a multiplier effect, both on attracting top talent, but retaining the very best. We love to carry on this conversation. If you're interested in some of our industry insights, under the new shape of work, please do reach out. We'll always be keen to tell you how we see progressive organizations making progress in some of these topics. Thank you
People's values have changed. What they want in a responsible employer looks different to what it looks pre-pandemic, and they are looking to shift their relationship with work. Are you ready?
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How prepared is your organization for seizing the opportunities of the new normal that are shaping the work world after COVID-19? Take the survey to find out.
- Kate Bravery - Global Advisory Solutions & Insights Leader at Mercer
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