Susan Arthur is the Chief Executive Office of CareerBuilder. Here, she shares her perspective on the seismic shifts in the way we work over the last two years.
The way we work is constantly changing. Adapting to the moment. Being reinvented in ways we don’t even recognize in the moment. Having said that, we’ve never seen anything quite like the seismic shifts of the last two years. We’ve witnessed the wild acceleration of trends that were already underway and the emergence of new ones that few saw coming.
No wonder we are hearing so much lately about “the future of work.” So what is that future? No one knows for sure. (You might say the future of work is a work in progress.) But we at CareerBuilder are seeing some clear trends right now that can help us predict where things will land.
What employees want
Let’s start with the engine that makes everything go: the workers. Employees find themselves in a great moment of leverage. As a result, we are hearing more than ever about what they want and need, pausing more often to reflect on what it might take to make them both happy and productive.
Unsurprisingly, the first thing workers want right now is flexibility. After two years of truly trying times, people want real work/life balance and not just lip service from an employer. They want the kind of balance that will head off burnout before it starts. One trend to keep an eye on is the shift to a four-day workweek. Another, as mentioned in a December 2021 Atlantic article, involves letting workers scale down their hours when caring for children or aging parents and scaling them back up subsequently.
After two years of taking stock, workers are also dialed in on fulfillment. That means they want opportunities for career growth and a healthy company culture that works to foster a sense of belonging.
The third thing workers want right now (and always) is a competitive salary and a well-rounded compensation package that motivates them to reach their potential while driving success for the company.
The “new” office
The role of a physical office space has been forever changed by the pandemic era. The old office was stable and predictable if sometimes stagnant. It was often assigned seats, cubicles and 40 hours on-site.
The new office, still taking shape at this writing, is defined in a far more fluid way. It is hybrid at its core as people seek to find a balance between the office and other spaces. The new office may be a co-working facility, a desk in a hotel lounge, a rented conference room or a coffee shop. It may be a person’s home.
Remember when we said the future of work is a work in progress? Well, the transition to that future will require patience and empathy from employers along with a healthy dose of roll-with-it from employees.
The future of the job market
Just as we’ve seen entire industries wildly expand and contract over the last two years, we’ve seen the job market continue to reshape itself. Expect that to continue. Expect a rise in the number of available remote roles. And expect an increase in overall job inventory across all 50 states, including a rise in in-person jobs as restaurants and other face-to-face businesses fully reopen.
Three trends worth noting:
The monthly number of job postings available on CareerBuilder has nearly tripled over the course of the pandemic
Double-digit growth in job postings for most states between December 2020 and December 2021
Explosive growth in job postings for high demand positions in transportation, warehousing, healthcare and education
What employers can do now
A forever-changed employee pool. A brand new definition of “office.” A constantly reshaping job market. It’s no wonder many employers find themselves asking two questions.
1) How can I keep my current employees engaged, productive and happy in an increasingly disconnected and dispersed world?
2) How can I help take the burden off the shoulders of job-seeking possible future employees?
For current employees, work relentlessly at building a shared sense of mission and belonging. Lead with empathy. Where there is an opportunity for team building, go all in whether it’s virtual or in-person socials/happy hours, lunch-and-learns and Wellness Wednesdays. Let yourself be more human than ever in the workplace.
When you meet with prospective employees, come to the table prepared to listen as much as you speak. Be sure to allow for some flexibility in the hiring process and tout the aspects of company life that allow for serious work/life balance.
Nothing is as it was. No one is as they were. If you’re an employer, seize this rare moment to reimagine your working landscape and rethink your hiring process. Opportunity knocks.