What do Your Employees Really Want in the ‘New Normal’?

What do Your Employees Really Want in the ‘New Normal’?

What do Your Employees Really Want in the ‘New Normal’?

As organizations start to transition to the ‘new normal’, it’s important to find out exactly what your employees are expecting.  The future of work changed after the first lockdown  in 2020, but your employees have also changed.  According to most surveys, the majority of office workers have now adapted so well to working from home, that they don’t want to return to the office full-time, no matter how Covid-secure the environment may be. 

Despite many executives working excessive hours, often over 70 per week, many of their team members have found that remote working has resulted in an improved work/life balance.  They’ve replaced their long commutes, sitting in traffic jams or strap-hanging cheek to jowl in overcrowded trains or tubes, with exercising in the local park before or after work.  Many team members have rediscovered their evenings, finding time for new hobbies and enjoying a better bank balance minus their commuting costs.  

The result is that very few want to return to a pre-Covid life of ‘metro, boulot, dodo’, as the French expression succinctly summarises the rat race of commuting, working and sleeping.  Added to their new-found freedom is also a sense that ‘life really is short’ having lost loved ones to coronavirus ahead of their time; understandably workers no longer want to waste their precious time commuting. 

So, depending on the emergence of new variants, a potential return to some restrictions, and even future lockdowns, what do your team members really want now that some form of ‘normality’ is starting to return?  From engagement and pulse surveys you will most likely find that of course, they will want more remote and flexible working.  But, importantly, they will also want to be trusted to continue working effectively when not in the office.  There are worrying signs that some call centre staff are to be monitored by their webcams if they continue to work from home.  For such organizations who show a lack of trust, now that the job market has improved, retention is starting to become an issue, with murmurings of a possible 'Great Resignation' looming.

As in any relationship, trust is imperative to its success and longevity.  Once trust is lost, it is difficult to regain.  Leaders and managers need to lead authentically and by example, role modelling the organizational values and behaviours, as well as acting consistently.  Open and honest communication continues to be key, especially regarding any approach to the collection of health data, such as Covid test results and possible vaccine passports.  Asking team members for their ideas, as well as eliciting and providing regular feedback will also ensure that they feel part of the ongoing change initiatives which will be required by organizations to continually adapt to an evolving 'new future' and hybrid working. 

Having got used to managing their own office environment at home, team members also want more empowerment, to set their own goals and see how these are aligned with the vision and strategy.  Many also need ongoing emotional support to deal with grief and a sense of loss, as well as to cope with higher levels of anxiety.  To avoid increasing employees stress levels it's also important to remember that everyone's comfort levels regarding in-person meetings can be very different, so it's key to assess and respond to individual concerns regarding Covid safety.  This can involve having a traffic light system on lanyards to identify how relaxed a team member is about being approached, to ensuring that one-way systems still operate, and there are adequate levels of healthy ventilation in offices.  Naturally, workers want to be rewarded for the efforts they have made to deliver on the BAU amidst a global health crisis.   As unemployment rates drop and more job opportunities arise, leaders and managers need to develop innovative ways to retain, motivate, and reward their teams, including new approaches to health and well-being.

‘The 360 Feedback provided a real lens in to how my leadership style was viewed.  Thank you for your sensitive yet challenging approach to delivering the tricky report.  I’m now adapting my style to be less directive and the results are already looking very positive.’  VP Sales.

About Jill Maidment

If you would like to know more about this subject or to book any of the following, please contact me:

If you would like to listen to my Expert Audio Talk on Successful Leadership in the Hybrid Workplace, please visit:

Executive Coaching and Mentoring, Career and Transition Coaching, Business Coaching, Resilience Coaching, Life Coaching Retreats

Leadership Training, High Performance Leadership Development, Management Training, Leadership and Management Team Development, Board Facilitation, Coaching Academy

Executive Assessment, 360 Feedback, Face to Face 360 Feedback, Talent Management and Succession Planning