The future of work is evolving in real time as organizations endure profound change on compressed timelines. Companies are experiencing supply chain stressors, security threats, inflation, mixed economic signals and changing customer expectations amid a tight talent market.
These accelerated transformations place greater pressure on a workforce that has been living and working through unprecedented times for more than two years. Mental health is being tested. Exhaustion and burnout have become common as people experience shifts in their values and priorities.
Accenture’s Future of Work 2021 research revealed that embedding individual and organizational resources across the worker experience could help workers to be happy, healthy and able to do their jobs, regardless of where they physically work. In 2022, we learned that although organizations increased their investment in some of these resources, the largest investment has been in getting the onsite work experience “caught up” to the remote one.
“It is critically important to understand what matters to your employees, because 9 times out of 10, your employee is also your customer.”
— Christie Smith, Senior Managing Director – Global Lead of Talent & Organization
A focus on onsite does not align with workers’ preferences. Our 2021 research found that 83% of global workers saw a hybrid model (sometimes working remotely and sometimes onsite) as ideal, yet more workers are fully onsite today than before (36% in 2022 vs. 25% in 2021).
Access to drivers of onsite productivity has increased year over year.
Of workers at companies that communicated a long-term work-model decision, only 35% feel the decision reflects research, data and employee needs.
Only 29% of workers now trust that their company’s leaders have their best interests at heart.
How can organizations compete in today’s all-out war for talent when workers aren’t accessing the support they need to be successful at work (wherever they work) and Net Better Off—stronger personally and professionally today, as compared to when they first arrived at the company?
What happens next is up to CEOs and other leaders who are making decisions about work experiences. Our research surveyed 200 CEOs around the globe and revealed that leaders believe that the pandemic has showed a need to do things differently from an organizational and people perspective, but they are not ready to change.
Yet, leaders that aren’t shaping a new future of work that delivers on worker expectations risk exacerbating existing problems, such as attrition. Workers who do not feel they can be productive, healthy or happy in any work location are 7.7x more likely to want to leave their organizations. In contrast, workers enabled to perform their work anywhere are 2.3x more likely to stay with their company, even in high-turnover industries.
And the research shows that work models that benefit workers also benefit the business because high-growth organizations have work models attuned to their workers’ needs.
66% of CEOs know that things need to change, but they are reluctant to pursue work models and approaches that differ from those used in the past.
Only 26% of CEOs have a future-ready strategy that is holistically focused on changing how, why and where we work.
68% of high-growth organizations have enabled productivity anywhere workforce models (up from 63% in 2021).
The resources that are enabling workers to perform their jobs anywhere are also leaving them 21% higher Net Better Off, which we know from previous research drives up to 5% revenue growth (and when enabled through omni-connected work cultures, drives up to 7.4% revenue growth). Omni-connected means creating value for people and the business by building a work environment in which people have the trust and technology needed to forge human connections with colleagues, managers and the company.
Workers who benefit from omni-connected experiences create personal and business value, and they also grow their careers because they are more resilient, creative and productive.
Productive anywhere workers are more likely to stay with their employer.
Employees are increasingly looking to their employer to help meet their individual “me” needs (physical, financial, employable, emotional/mental), their “me and you” needs (relational) and their collective “we” needs (purposeful). Omni-connection is key.
The future of work is evolving every day. Where businesses go next depends on the choices made now. Approaches that have worked in the past are based on outdated concepts about people and business. Leaders must reimagine a new model that centers on people and how, where and why they work. Business leaders can begin to change the current trajectory and shape a future of work that benefits both workers and the business. These questions are a good place to start:
What is your organization’s purpose?
Purpose has been used to attract new talent, not to help existing workers feel that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. Leaders can make purpose part of culture by embedding it in many interactions, during recruitment and career development.
52% say purpose is more of a talent branding tool than a real catalyst for change
How are your leaders supporting people?
Supportive leadership, organizational agility and work autonomy have increased, but they are not equitably distributed among the workforce. When leaders shed command-and-control models and lead with intent, they give people autonomy to choose their own path to get business done.
53% of CEOs still prioritize productivity over people’s well-being
How are leaders creating better work experiences?
Leaders have invested in onsite work improvements, rather than in resources that help workers be “productive anywhere” and Net Better Off. Better work experiences rely on omni-connected cultures, where people are connected and feel they belong, regardless of physical location.
Being omni-connected accounts for 59% of someone’s intention to stay with a company.
Do your workers have the right digital skills?
Digital skills have decreased, especially among key workforce groups. To build digital fluency and contribute to innovation and better customer experiences, people need ongoing training and digital tools need to be at the center of how people connect, work and grow.
Only 31% of workers are confident their skills will be relevant in five years
What will you decide?
No one could have predicted or altered the course of events that have changed work as we know it. We can, however, decide how to respond and improve work for the future. Our Future of Work 2021 and 2022 research show that productivity and well-being are not contradictory, but complementary. People need access to resources that support their fundamental human needs, and they should be able to work in a supportive environment, regardless of their physical location. Those who will lead in the future of work will be the ones who are creating a foundation for healthy, effective workers and organizations that not only survive, but thrive in times of change.
Accenture’s Future of Work Study 2021 showed that most people want hybrid work and flexible work arrangements to thrive and be happy at work.
About the research
Accenture Research fielded a survey in March 2021 to 9,326 global workers across Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Sweden, UK and US and the following industries: Banking, Insurance, Capital Markets, High Tech, Retail, Customer Goods & Services, Public Sector, Healthcare, Communications and Media, Utilities, Energy and Life Sciences.
In February 2022, a workforce survey was fielded sampling 10,750 workers across 13 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, Singapore, Sweden, UK and USA), working in 12 industries (Banking, Insurance, High Tech, Retail, Consumer Goods & Services, Public Sector, Healthcare, Communications & Media, Utilities, Energy, Life Science and Travel & Hospitality). An additional survey was fielded with 200 CEOs across the same geographies and industries. Worker-experienced drivers of onsite and remote productivity and key work resources were measured again following a Spring 2021 survey, for year-over-year comparison.