The return to work is going to be painful for a lot of people. A large percentage of the population has re-evaluated their lives particularly their work life. They may not be able to change their jobs but they will be thinking more about the work life balance. For leaders of organisations there will be the challenge of motivating employees who simple don’t enjoy their work or get any job satisfaction from it.
For many the arduous commute to work may be a thing of the past or a least something they only have to do once or twice a week. Organisations will reap the benefit of a significant reduction in their second highest cost- office accommodation. So is this a win, win? I suspect it won’t be that simple. Some managers and some organisations have found the shift to home working and the idea of out of sight employees being trusted to get on with it a challenge to their traditional approach to management.
If some organisations distrust their employees it’s also true that some employees don’t much like the work they do. What’s new is that having had a prolonged break from work they like the prospect of returning to it even less. But they don’t have the luxury of packing it in to take a big drop in pay to do something more meaningful and satisfying. Result – a dissatisfied workforce, one that that is not going to be motivated by the opportunity to work from home, a pay rise, a shorter working week or a less punitive absence policy-even if that was on offer.
A demotivated workforce is difficult to manage and very difficult to get onboard with a change agenda that is seen as cost cutting and making the job even less attractive. Yet every organisation post pandemic is faced with a change agenda.
Workers tend to feel satisfied when they have to complete a diverse range of tasks, this keeps people interested and engaged in their work. Workers also tend to want to control over the work they do. They want to be able to have some say in what tasks they complete at a given moment .and to be able to do this they need managers to trust them.
It’s part of the managers role to give work purpose and meaning by explaining why what they do matters( contribution to bigger picture)and making them feel they can make a difference. But this is not enough organisations and their managers need to give more thought as to how they can redesign jobs to offer employees more scope for using their initiative, being creative and problem solving.
Never the less despite efforts to redesign the role and managers valiant attempts to give the work purpose and meaning the work remains tedious for many. It helps if you like the people you work with, it helps if you believe you can make a difference, it helps if you trust your manager, it helps if you feel your efforts are appreciated-no matter how arduous and dull the tasks.