Future Forum is a consortium focused on building a way of working that is flexible, inclusive, and connected. Future Forum conducts research and convenes executives to design a people-centered and digital-first workplace. The forum’s latest research focused on new workforce policy trends, based on a survey of 10,243 workers across the U.S., Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and the U.K. during the last two months of 2022.
Also: Top 5 traits of effective leaders
Here is the executive summary of the winter snapshot research:
- Flexibility builds strong organizational cultures – Flexible workers — those with the ability to adjust where they work — are still equally or more likely to feel connected to their immediate teams as fully in-office workers are. And they are more likely to feel connected to their direct manager and their company’s values.
- Flexibility counters spiking burnout trends – Burnout is still on the rise globally, with 42% of the workforce reporting it — a slight uptick (2% rise) from the previous quarter and an all-time high since May 2021, when Future Forum first started measuring employee burnout.
- Flexibility is a key driver for productivity – Executives continue to cite declining productivity as their second most serious concern when it comes to flexible work. And yet flexible work continues to be associated with higher productivity, not less, with the greatest gains among workers with schedule flexibility.
Here are additional important takeaways from the research:
Technology innovators dramatically outpace laggards in productivity
How does investment in technology affect employee experience?
The research found that people who work at companies they describe as technology innovators continue to show higher employee experience scores on all dimensions (compared with those who describe their employers as technology laggards), including:
- 1.6x higher scores on productivity
- 2x higher scores on ability to focus
- 2.2x higher scores on sense of belonging
- 2.8x higher scores on overall satisfaction
Technology also impacts burnout levels. Workers who perceive their companies to be laggards — defined as organizations that generally only use technology after it becomes mainstream — are 31% more likely to report feeling burned out at work than those who say the companies they work for are innovators.
Also: 14 innovation trends with exponential growth potential
Flexible schedules improve business outcomes
When compared to workers with no ability to shift their schedules, respondents with full schedule flexibility report:
- 39% higher productivity
- 64% greater ability to focus
Conversely, a lack of schedule flexibility dramatically impacts both retention and employee experience scores. Employees with rigid work schedules say they are 2.5x more likely to “definitely” look for a new job in the next year compared with workers who have some ability to adjust their schedules. Compared to those with moderate schedule flexibility, desk workers who say they have little to no ability to set their hours report:
- 4.6x worse work-related stress and anxiety
- 2.6x worse work-life balance
Who has access to flexible schedules? Fifty-six percent of desk workers say they have little to no ability to adjust their hours from a preset schedule. The data shows that schedule flexibility is still largely considered a perk or benefit of seniority, with executives significantly more likely to have access to flexible schedules than non-executives.
- Seventy-five percent of executives have little to no constraints on their schedule compared with 41% of non-executives.
- Executives are nearly 3x more likely than middle managers and nearly 4x more likely than individual contributors to have zero schedule constraints.
- Eighty-one percent of all desk workers now want flexibility in where they work, including a majority (56%) of fully in-office workers.
Fifty-nine percent of employees surveyed are open to looking for a new job in the next year, a 4% increase since the summer. Among those who say they are dissatisfied with their level of flexibility, 75% say they plan to look for a new opportunity within the next year.
Ninety-three percent of employees want flexibility in when they work, a continuing trend from Future Forum’s previous quarterly surveys. (However, as noted above, 56% of employees say they have little to no ability to adjust their hours from a preset schedule.)
Employees prefer a hybrid work arrangement
What motivates people to want to come into the office? Two-thirds of all workers (67%) say they prefer a hybrid arrangement with the option to access a physical space. The top two drivers motivating employees to want to work in the office are collaboration (33%) followed by building camaraderie (23%).
When looked at by job level, the motivation for coming into the office differs dramatically between executives and non-executives. Executives value putting in face time with management at 1.6x the rate of non-executives. Non-executives value building camaraderie at 2x the rate of executives.
To learn more about Future Forum’s latest research on work policy trends and its impact on employee experience and work policies you can visit here.