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The mass adoption of hybrid remote work models over the last few years have created a new opportunity to examine the relationship between working environment and wellbeing.

To attract and retain talent, companies need a comprehensive wellbeing strategy and to create a culture that prioritizes the mental and physical health of their employees. But how can they do that?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Want to leverage Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as a leader? Try this short course to see how the theory can be applied in practical work scenarios.

At the 2022 G1 Global Conference, Miki Tsusaka, managing director and senior partner at Boston Consulting Group joined panelists Paul Dupuis, Seiji Inagaki, Yuka Shimada, and Sheela Subramanian to share their thoughts and explore potential solutions.

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How can employers take advantage of the hybrid working model to support employee wellbeing?

Sheela Subramanian: So much of the conversation today about flexibility globally is about how many days you expect your employees to come back into the office. It’s about location.

What we’re missing in that conversation is that flexibility is more than just where you work. It’s when you work. It’s how you work. And ultimately, it’s about choice.

People want to be empowered and trusted to do their best work as well as live their lives. And so what we see from our research at Future Forum is that in our survey of over 10,000 desk workers, yes, 79 percent of people want flexibility in where they work.

But a whopping 94 percent want flexibility in when they work. They want schedule flexibility. Now, this isn’t my way of saying everybody gets to work whenever they want—6 a.m. in London or 3 a.m. wherever they’re located.

Instead, two-thirds of employees want flexibility within a framework. They want some structure around their flexibility. What does that look like?

It could look like core teamwork hours agreed upon hours where teams come together to work synchronously, one-on-ones, team meetings, and collaboration hours. But outside of those core teamwork hours, people have the autonomy to do their focused work.

In addition, it’s thinking about meetings globally. What we see is that most meetings are a case of presenteeism. People are burning out because they feel like they always need to be on. They need to be on video during a meeting, always participating, even though the meeting may not be the best use of their time.

What we propose is something called the Four D model. If the meeting is intended to discuss something specific, debate, decide, or develop your employee, keep the meeting. Otherwise, work asynchronously through your digital channels.

What we’re seeing from the research, though, is that two-thirds of employees globally, and we’re seeing this consistently, are not getting schedule flexibility. And those employees are nearly three times more likely to look for a new job in the next year.

So as we talk about mental health, as we talk about the great resignation, 70 percent of people who don’t feel like they have a choice in how they work are looking for a new job in the next year. So this is both a people and a business issue that we need to talk about today.

How much do factors like company purpose and working environment influence employee engagement?

Paul Dupuis: I want to touch on a couple of things that Sheela and the others said.

First, when we talk about talent attraction, the world has changed. It’s not a new normal. It’s a new world.

I was in India until last year. For four years, I was CEO of Randstad in India. And what an amazing experience. And then, of course, coming back to Japan what I discovered is that the workforce of the future, let’s call them the millennials, the Gen Zs are more interested in a company’s purpose than they are in their brand.

We heard that in an earlier session, but I can tell you, in our efforts to recruit across the world, it’s true about the talent of the future.

The first question they’re asking is “What does the company stand for?” And a lot of companies are not ready for that. A lot of organizations have not given deep thought to their purpose. And often the purpose is of what versus a why.

Finding Your Life Purpose with Ikigai

Ikigai can guide you in your quest for self-discovery. Listen to Japanese brain scientist Ken Mogi explain why and how.

There’s a great quote from Jim Rohn. He said, “When the why is clear, the how is easy.” Start with the why, a compelling why. That’s the first thing that we start to see in terms of trends in talent attraction.

What do employees feel is a good balance between working remotely and in-person office work?

Dupuis: Gone are the days when companies would use their beautiful office to recruit great talent. It’s now a moot point. As Sheela said earlier, people are choosing not to go to the office.

Our data at Randstad surveying our own 45,000 employees concluded there were three categories of employees. This differs a bit between cultures around the world, but basically, it goes like this:

15 percent of our employees don’t want to come to the office at all. They want to work completely remotely. And if we don’t offer that option, a good percentage will leave. That’s clear in the responses, by the way, that matches with the study done by Ernst & Young recently.

The second group is the largest. They want this thing called hybrid. And that group is 65 to 70 percent, and the definition of hybrid differs between cultures. Interestingly, in Japan, it’s defined as 2.9 days in the office per week. In the U.S., it’s 1.8.

Then the last group wants to come every day. When you lift the layers on that group, interestingly, the largest demographic in that group is people between twenty-five and thirty-five. They want to be in the office. They want connection.

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