The world has changed and so have the expectations of employees and the realities of today’s workforce. There have been many studies, articles, and research over the years that well articulate the evolution of the workforce and how important it is for businesses and organizations to evolve along with it.
Enter the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 forced the world through a massive disruption to the norms of the workplace and forever changed the perceptions and expectations of the modern workforce.
Many view these new expectations as something created by the pandemic. In small ways that is true. Expectations around heightened safety protocols with sanitization and flexibility in sick leave for testing and social distancing were new expectations that employers need to respond to with no real advanced warning.
However, when it comes to the vast majority of the “new” expectations that employees are bringing to the workplace since the pandemic, most were not created by COVID-19. They are only amplified by it.
The disruption of the work norms caused by COVID-19 had a number of effects felt by employees around the world. First, many employees were exposed for the first time to how challenging, stressful, and unreasonable their jobs actually were.
These realizations came from being forced to stay home and being able to avoid the stresses of their job. They were able to spend more time with their families. They did not have to deal with the interpersonal conflicts they experienced everyday, and were not pushing their bodies and minds to their breaking point. Some people saw how good their life could be without the physical, mental, and emotional stress of their job and workplace.
Secondly, many employees understood how inadequate their compensation and benefits were to meet their needs. Some workers were given a fresh perspective on how much stress and risk they had to deal with for a relatively low income. Many workers were exposed to the cost of time and money they were exposed to by commuting to the office every day.
Perhaps most significantly, workers were exposed to how insufficient their employee benefits are.
Thirdly, many employees realized how much better their lives and work can be when they are given little flexibility and freedom. Workplaces saw comparable, if not improved, efficiency and employee experience when provided more flexible working conditions. Workplaces that allow and support continued freedoms, like remote working, saw higher productivity.
These are only three realizations caused by the disruption of the norms of work. However, they are excellent examples of the new perspective that employees have when viewing their workplace. This new perspective plays a large part in what people are calling “The Great Resignation”.
Employees now have higher expectations of their employers. If employers and workplaces are not meeting these expectations; some employees may quit, others became disengaged, and many will consider looking elsewhere. For employers, this means that you will have a much more challenging time recruiting, hiring, and retaining staff if you are not meeting the expectations of the workforce.
Put simply, a major effect caused by COVID-19 is that people have taken a hard look at their lives and realized that they are dissatisfied with their jobs. As a result of this job dissatisfaction, employees are losing motivation, becoming disgruntled, exploring their options, and quitting their jobs.
This reaction is not only understandable but fairly predictable. Employees were given the opportunity to see their lives and work without the daily stress and bias that comes from being in the middle of the situation. They saw the forest through the trees and were given a chance to reflect on their situation. This new perspective caused many to not return to their jobs, or refuse to put up with the factors of their jobs.
Many employers and businesses saw this refusal to accept the factors of the job, that were the norm pre COVID-19 (such as the compensation and job security), as a desire not to work. There has been a lot of backlash from the businesses communities worldwide that employees do not want to work anymore and that the lockdowns spoiled people. The truth is, it’s not that most employees do not want to work, it is that they do not want to work for a business that is not treating them fairly or sufficiently providing them what they need to be successful.
The reality is that workers expect their jobs to provide benefits, job security, working conditions, etc., that are competitive for their region or industry. They except that the pay, safety, and wellness supports to sufficiently meet their needs. And they expect the policies, tasks, and compensations to be fair and equitable.
In this new normal the workforce has the 3 expectations of:
These expectations are how the workforce assess the 7 factors of:
- Job Security
When these 7 factors are not properly addressed they cause job dissatisfaction. This effect we are experiencing that is causing this frustration in the workforce.
The successful alignment that happens when the 7 factors that cause dissatisfaction are addressed by the 3 expectations is what is called The 7X3 Rule. This happens when a workplace makes the effort to address the factors like wages, safety, wellness, policies, etc. to make them competitive with comparable jobs in their region or sector, make them sufficient to accomplish their purpose and meet the needs of their employees, and equitable, fair, and accessible to everyone. This is how you will be able to change the workplace to resolve many of the issues facing our workforce.
The 7X3 Rule is defined as when All 7 Dissatisfaction Factors of the Workplace need to be addressed according to the 3 Expectations of the Workforce. This is something that we need to start bringing into our common language, especially when we are talking about working conditions, the causes of employee turnover, and this new reality we find ourselves in.
Employers. Take stalk. Are you meeting these expectations in your workplace?
You need to make sure that the wellness supports you have are meeting the needs of the employees. Are they getting the time they need to recharge and recover? Are the leaves and days off enough to actually support them? Or is it just that your wellness plan is mostly an annual company picnic and a treadmill in the breakroom?
Are your Leave Policies encouraging employees to take the time off, or are there unspoken rules that punish them if they do? Do your Behaviour Policies actually resolve and deter harassment or do they just pacify complaints?
Is your workplace actually safe for your employees? For many frontline workers mask mandates and vaccination enforcement has them now dealing with irate customers. Do they feel they are as safe or safer with your company compared to similar jobs?
We all need to take a fresh look at the modern workplace, and the lens of The 7X3 Rule is a good place to start. Employees, in large part, truly want to work, and employers, in large part, truly want to allow them to do their best work. But the arrangement we have come to in the past is no longer good enough.
The 7X3 Rule is how a workplace can begin to update how they understand this new normal and prepare their workplace to thrive in this new reality.