POSTED: August 13 2021
Flexible working causing divide

Flexible working causing divides in the workplace

Flexible working appears to be dividing opinion in the workplace, with fears the employer – employee gap could widen post pandemic.

A new survey by Gartner has found approximately 75% of executive level leaders think they are already operating within a culture of flexibility – yet only 57% of employees agreed.

Perhaps a more worrying statistic is that just 41% of employees agreed that senior leadership act in their best interest.

Highlighting the divide, the survey found that 76% of leaders think they have equipped staff with the resource to work virtually – with only 59% of employees said they had made the necessary investments.

If left unaddressed, the division may lead to a critical failure to build employee – employer trust in the future, and businesses risk losing top talent.

Alexia Gambion of Gartner said “First, leaders must acknowledge that there is a gap. Designing flexible work requires leaders to adopt a human-centric lens, and this means that leaders must look at the realities of flexibility from multiple points of view.

“Especially those whose experience is fundamentally different from theirs.

“By communicating their awareness of the differences between how flexibility is experienced, leaders will already make some progress in bridging the gap and making employees feel heard.”

“Employees increasingly feel that flexible work is a right, not a privilege, and leaders who feel differently risk alienating their workforce and damaging trust in leadership,” said Cambon.

“Trust is an important component of employee engagement, which is already being tested in a volatile and disruptive work environment.

“Employees who feel their expectations will not be met may see this as yet another reason to leave their organisation and join the great resignation wave.”

Separately, other Gartner data has found organisations that mandate a full return to the office could risk losing around 39% of their workforce.

Cambon said: “Employees must be given the chance to make their voice heard in decisions that fundamentally affect their lives, both personal and professional.

“By employing strategies like pulse surveys or focus groups, organisations will have a stronger understanding of where there is dissonance between populations on the future work model and work to close the gap.”

“Leaders must be as explicit as possible about the decision-making process.

“Inconsistently receiving messages create confusion. It is better for leaders to state clearly what they do and do not know to ensure populations are not consuming different messages,” Cambon added.

If your organisation is affected by the issues discussed in this article, contact advo today. 

The 2021 Gartner Hybrid Work Employee Survey surveyed 4,000 UK employees in January 2021. Original article here.