More than eight in 10 (85 per cent) global company leaders say the shift to hybrid work has challenged their confidence in employee productivity, according to a survey by Microsoft Corp.

It found while 87 per cent of employees said they believe they’re productive at work, just 12 per cent of people leaders said they have full confidence that their teams are productive.

In addition, while 81 per cent of employees said it’s important their managers help them prioritize their workload, fewer than a third (31 per cent) said their managers have ever given clear guidance during one-on-one meetings. Three-quarters (74 per cent) of people managers said more guidance on prioritizing their own work would help their performance and 80 per cent said they’d personally benefit from more clarity from senior leadership on impactful priorities.

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More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of business decision-makers said ensuring cohesion and social connections within teams has been a moderate to major challenge due to the shift to hybrid work. Employees are feeling this acutely, with roughly half saying their relationships outside their immediate work group have weakened (51 per cent) and they feel disconnected from their company as a whole (43 per cent).

While 82 per cent of business decision-makers said getting employees back to the office is a concern in the coming year, about three-quarters of employees (73 per cent) and business decision-makers (78 per cent) said they need a better reason to go in than just company expectations. Notably, 84 per cent of employees would be motivated to return to the office by the promise of socializing with co-workers and another 85 per cent would be motivated by rebuilding team bonds.

The survey also found nearly all business decision-makers and employees (96 per cent and 95 per cent, respectively) said effective communication is among the most critical skills they’ll need in the year ahead. Employees listed authenticity (85 per cent) as the No. 1 quality a manager can have in supporting them to do their best work. Likewise, 83 per cent of business decision-makers said it’s important for their senior leadership to show up authentically.

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More than half (56 per cent) of employees and 68 per cent of business decision-makers said there aren’t enough growth opportunities in their company to make them want to stay long term. Additionally, 55 per cent said the best way for them to develop their skills is to change companies.  And 76 per cent of employees noted they’d stay at their company longer if they could benefit more from learning and development support, while 68 per cent said they’d stay longer if it were easier to change jobs internally.