With no end to pandemic in India, work from home culture has been progressively adopted since 2020. While many companies including Tesla have asked employees to return to work and operate out of the office, few companies like Apple and Google have started a hybrid model policy as a part of their return-to-work policy program. Ever since the pandemic, the functioning of the office system has been undergoing a major change as organizations are trying to strike the perfect balance between working from home or working from the office. A large group of employees have opposed the idea of getting back to work stating loss of productivity and flexibility. As per a survey titled, ‘Ding Global Prepaid Index’, over 39% of the respondents stated that they would like to return to work, but only for a few days per week. On the other hand, only 12% of Indian workers are looking to work from the office.
The new workforce
A New York Times article points to an accurately legitimate phenomenon-the new workforce. This includes individuals who are young, optimistic, ambitious, open to feedback, and have more power than any generation in the past. Instead of being bullied by a ‘boss’ figure, the new generation is open to voice their opinions, feelings, and face criticism.
The past two years have instilled a sense of urgency in rethinking the work and workplace. The great resignation is far from over according to experts, and India’s unemployment is reaching scary levels with a whopping decline of 3.28 million in March 2022 according to labour statistics. A recent report by CMIE suggests, frustrated at not being able to find the right kind of jobs with decent pay, bulk of the 900-million workers of legal age in India have stopped looking for jobs altogether.
This, overall, indicates lack of decent jobs in the urban market, a skill mismatch in the employment sector, and companies dealing with excess staff in the face of economic imbalance caused by international events such as Russia-Ukraine war and COVID-19.
Addressing the immediate challenges
To start with, employees need to address employee queries as soon as possible. The hiring process needs to be streamlined and an employee needs to be asked about his/her expectations from the job and preference of work environment-whether they would prefer work from home or coming to office. Company’s employee benefits program also needs to be discussed in detail.
Another crucial step that the company should take is to retain good talent and let go of surplus staff that is not contributing much to the company’s productivity. Lay-offs have become common in the startup ecosystem but instead of blaming just the companies for being flush with cash yet mismanaging their workforce, we should look at the reason for being laid off. Impressive performance is an objective demand from employers for any employee, and the propensity to adapt to disruptive technologies is far greater now than ever before.
When looking out for jobs, employees today are stressing the importance of wellness benefits offered by the company, especially since the wake of COVID-19. Employees who know their value and talent are demanding better care packages and insurance coverage for themselves and their families.
Compared to men, the women workforce has been badly impacted due to shift in workplace protocols and lack of decent jobs. The female labour force participation rate was at 9.4% for the period between September-December 2021, according to latest data by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), a lowest in the history of India’s economic growth. If companies do not wake up now and take measures to bring back the missing workforce back, the future of India’s fabled growth looks indeed quite dark.
How to navigate through the new workplace?
While HR processes do take time for integration, employees having jobs and returning to the workplace can apply the below strategies to switch back to work.
Be open: Openly discuss your issues with the HR. Be vocal in asking them about the team structure, take charge and delegate work in the office and to work from home employees in a traceable manner. Learn to use technology effectively so that you can manage large teams without any hassle.
Develop strong EQ: Emotional intelligence is recognized as a valuable skill as it helps improve communication, management, problem-solving, and relationships within the workplace. People with high EQ are proven to make better decisions, have greater empathy and be great listeners.
Be flexible: Senior employees may find it difficult to manage with the new work environment. New skills and modern technologies for team management might come as a shock to them. Do not give up and quit just because you cannot understand this new world. Try and learn from younger colleagues if needed, let go of ego.
Be clear in communicating your requirements: Communicate your needs and requirements to the HR so that they can effectively address the same. Holding on to the problems will not help you and neither will it give you the motivation to work. If your current employer is unable to find a solution to your problem, then the best thing to do is look for another job.