At least 41% of the entire global workforce could soon hand in their resignation as they reassess their priorities following the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report by Microsoft. The figure reaches 54% for those between 18 and 25 years old, also known as Generation Z, who seem to be fed up or resigned about their current jobs.
In a report called “The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work – Are We Ready?,” Microsoft surveyed over 30,000 workers in 31 countries and pulled in data from its applications to analyze productivity and activity levels. The tech company highlighted a set of trends the world of work is now seeing due to the pandemic.
“Over the past year, no area has undergone more rapid transformation than the way we work,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in the report. “Employee expectations are changing, and we will need to define productivity much more broadly – inclusive of collaboration, learning and wellbeing to drive career advancement for every worker, including frontline and knowledge workers, as well as for new graduates and those who are in the workforce today.”
With so much change upending people over the past twelve months, Microsoft found that employees are reevaluating priorities, home bases, and their entire lives. Whether it’s because of fewer networking or career advancement opportunities, a new calling or pandemic-related struggles, more people are considering their next move in their professional lives.
That’s why, Microsoft wrote in the report, the way companies approach the next phase of work — embracing the positives and learning from the challenges of this last year — will impact who stays, who goes, and who ultimately seeks to join a company. It’s a lot to take in if you are a business leader, but the way you act after the pandemic may come with consequences for your work force.
University of Michigan economist Betsey Stevenson told Axios: “People have had a little more space to ask themselves, ‘Is this really what I want to be doing?’ So some are deciding they want to work fewer hours or with more flexibility to create more time for family or hobbies.”
Microsoft warned that some people are experiencing digital exhaustion and that remote working could foster siloed thinking. With most working remotely, the spontaneous sharing of ideas that can take place within a workplace was lost. Instead, now there’s scheduled calls, regular catch-ups and virtual hangouts – with a much more limited interaction.
Another consequence of the shift to remote and the reliance on tech-based communications has been the phenomenon of digital burnout. This was a big challenge especially for those who recently joined the workforce. Starting a new job usually meant meeting new people and adjusting to a new environment. The pandemic turned that into a routine of working from home.
“Our findings have shown that for Gen Z and people just starting in their careers, this has been a very disruptive time,” said LinkedIn Senior Editor-at-Large, George Anders, quoted in the report. “It’s very hard to find their footing since they’re not experiencing the in-person onboarding, networking and training that they would have expected in a normal year.”
Looking for solutions to all these changes, Microsoft said employers should adopt a hybrid approach. Employees should be given the flexibility to work when and where they want, as well as the tools they need to equally contribute from wherever they happen to be. This could help to revive our networks at work, the tech giant argued.
The report suggested organizations to invest in space and technology to bridge the physical and digital roles. Addressing digital exhaustion also has to be a priority for leaders everywhere, doing less and synchronous and asynchronous collaboration. Companies should also reframe team building, implementing a proactive effort.