The world’s largest game of tug of war has been ongoing for over two years, and both sides are showing no signs of letting up.
On one side are employers, eager to keep their staff happy without too many adjustments. The preference for such revolves around a pre-pandemic workplace: five days a week in the office, for the same pay and slightly polished benefits.
On the other side are employees, ready to officially advocate for what their personal needs are. Whether this is a remote or flexible work schedule, the ability to work from anywhere or having access to mental health resources, the workforce has dug its heels in on these issues.
As a result, the battle has led to a new slew of workplace trends that are significantly impacting the war for talent. Employees are participating in the Great Resignation, while labor union organizations are growing at a pace not seen in decades.
So who wins in the end?
The most likely scenario is that no one emerges as the ultimate champion. Other factors have emerged that complicate the fight for the future of work, such as global affairs, rising inflation and the risk of a recession.
Neither employers nor employees can afford to not have work during this time. However, in recent months, the scales may have tipped in favor of business leaders as many are dealing with the outcome of overhiring during the initial months following mass vaccination.
Because of this, many are turning to hiring freezes and layoffs as a way to offset the expenses from hiring sprees.
While still unpredictable, employers could come out on top if this trend persists. Still, workers in certain industries also have a chance to be victorious, especially knowledge workers and healthcare professionals.
“I do think with the threat, or reality, of a full-blown recession, the [power] balance will even out a little more, but the most forward-thinking organizations understand there will always be options for top talent and hard-to-fill roles,” said Elise Freedman, workforce transformation practice leader at consultancy Korn Ferry. “The push-and-pull is still going on.”