Productivity starts with positive morale. However, nearly 30% of U.S. workers say they’re likely to switch jobs within the next year, citing struggles with flexibility, boundaries, technology and connectedness, according to “The Future of Time” study fielded by Adobe Document Cloud.
With four primary generations in the workplace (Gen X and millennials as today’s typical top executives), increased adoption of hybrid work environments and inflation altering the economy, business owners can benefit from dialing into employees’ most pressing needs that affect productivity. We paired more survey results with expert input and ideas from local leaders.
78% of millennials say they’d switch jobs for a better work-life balance (Compared with 74% Gen Zers, 66% Gen Xers and 50% baby boomers)
Flexibility is crucial for professionals, such as Angela Bell, partner at Gravina, Smith, Matte & Arnold Marketing and Public Relations, a millennial parent of young kids. While she feels most focused in the office, her team can come and go when needed. “We totally understand the dynamics of raising children and other priorities in your life,” she says.
It’s not always about family affairs. For Gen X workers including Lee Golden, senior vice president, director of business development and commercial loan officer at Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, seeing customers outside the office makes all the difference. He says the most significant thing he craves in his schedule is “flexibility with my role to be able to work on business development activities, visit my clients and not just be tied to an office from 8 to 5.”
HR by Karen owner Karen Shepherd said it’s more of an integration of work and life than a specific balance that makes a difference in morale. That means making “reasonable accommodations” when outside obligations pop up.
“You build trust when you build a work-life integration. You’re not worried when someone is going to be a little late. You’re not worried they might have to leave at 3 o’clock to get to their son or daughter’s baseball game,” Shepherd says. “If leadership does not want to lead with compassion, empathy and heart so there can be a work-life integration, they will have constant turnover.”
41% of U.S. workers say it’s challenging to set work and personal boundaries
Communicating expectations can alleviate an employee’s pressure to respond if their boss sends an email after hours.
“You have to be cognizant and have a conversation if you work like that,” Shepherd says, giving an example: “I work late. That is my choice. I may send you an email after 5 o’clock, but you don’t need to respond to it.”
Conversely, employees should be able to ask for clarification around expected replies. “If they can’t have an open conversation and talk to leadership, that’s a whole other ball game issue,” Shepherd says.
54% of U.S. workers say they’d switch jobs for better tools to be more effective at their jobs
If employees are expected to work on the go, they must be able to do so easily.
“Software is really important for us to be able to work effectively,” Bell says. “All of our staff have dedicated laptops and a Resonate connection so they can access their workstation.”
Play to Strengths
53% of workers say they’d like to spend more time pursuing passions and what they love
For Geoff Hunter, a millennial branch manager at Raymond James & Associates, enhancing company culture means playing to people’s strengths. He said he notes patterns of what team members do and don’t like. If it’s a necessary task, he’ll offer training. Otherwise, he’ll restructure duties.
“I’m a firm believer that if you’re passionate and enjoy what you do, you do it better, and you’re more productive and happier in general. I think happy people make for quality work,” he says.
“Too often managers make employees lead with their weaknesses versus their strengths, and I would much rather have a job where I could continue with my superpowers than take on something that could be challenging that’s a weakness for me,” Shepherd says.
While data and workplaces are partially divided by generations, Shepherd said that shouldn’t be the place to put focus. “Everyone has a story. Don’t create bias because of their age,” she adds. Instead, she advised to stay curious about a person’s story and ask questions to know what they need to work their best. “Being productive is really so much more encompassing than anyone realizes,” she says.