Employees want flex work but fear adverse impact on careers, study finds

While 37 per cent of Canadian employees expect their workplace to focus more on employee health in the coming years, health and well-being ranked in the bottom three on employers’ list of their top talent management priorities this year, according to new research by Mercer.

Its 2017 global talent trends study also found flexible working arrangements are important to employees, with more than half reporting that their direct manager (68 per cent) and their company leaders (59 per cent) are supportive of them. Nevertheless, 44 per cent of employees believe working remotely or part time can have an adverse impact on promotional opportunities.

“It’s a risk for any organization to ignore opportunities for people to work more independently,” said Gordon Frost, partner and leader of Mercer Canada’s career business, in a release. “Those companies that find ways to leverage a more fluid workforce will harness growth and outpace the competition.”

Read: Employers opening up to non-traditional employment: study

In addition, while the vast majority (97 per cent) of employees said they want recognition and rewards for contributions beyond the organization’s financial results and activity metrics, just about half (55 per cent) think their company does that well. Furthermore, fair and competitive compensation ranked at the top when asked what would make a positive impact on their work situation, yet rewards ranked low on priorities for human resources leaders.

Some 64 per cent of human resources leaders said they’re confident in the talent management processes they have in place, but employees are still looking elsewhere for new opportunities. More than a third (37 per cent) of employee respondents said they plan to leave their current role in the next 12 months.

Fewer than half (48 per cent) of employees said that their company understands their unique interests and skills. “Employees are increasingly bringing a consumer expectation to the workplace since it is how they engage in almost every aspect of their lives,” said Frost. “It creates an authentic environment in which employees can excel. When done right, it does not feel like personalization; it just feels like a great experience.”

Read: Is it time for employee consumerism?

Half (47 per cent) of human resources professionals believe technology at work — including automation, robotics, machine learning and wearable devices — is the workforce trend likely to have the biggest impact on their organizations in the next two years. But fewer than one-third (31 per cent) said employees can do more than just core human resources tasks digitally.
“Despite the desire to cling to more traditional methods, the landscape for the workplace, the workforce and the future of work are changing too quickly and drastically to do so,” said Frost.

“To stay competitive, it is imperative that business executives and HR leaders collaborate and that organizations take new approaches to how employees access knowledge, adapt to technology, manage, communicate and leverage their careers.”

Read: Employers concerned about talent retention in 2017 but admit to unfairly paid staff: survey