Outcomes Over Output: What Employees Are Looking for in 2021

The pandemic has forever changed the way employees view work. Once it eventually subsides, many workers will be eager to explore their career options and change jobs.
If businesses want to attract and retain the talent they need to move forward, they must understand candidates’ mindsets and desires in this new talent market. According to the Citrix Talent Accelerator, a survey of 2,000 knowledge workers and 500 HR directors in large corporations and mid-market businesses based in the US, the majority don’t.
The survey also revealed significant gaps between the ways employees and employers view the future of work that will need to be closed if companies hope to attract and retain the talent they need.
Digital Nomads
Now, more than ever, employees want flexibility in where, when, and how they work. In fact, 88 percent of workers surveyed said that, when searching for a new position, they would look for one that offers complete flexibility in hours and location. And 76 percent believe that employees will be more likely to prioritize lifestyle over proximity to work, even if it means taking a pay cut. 
When it comes to where they work, 83 percent of employees and 69 percent of HR directors think that workers will be more likely to move out of cities if they can work remotely a majority of the time. This will pay dividends that extend far beyond the four walls of the enterprise: 78 percent of workers and 67 percent of HR directors predict that the geographical decentralization of organizations will result in the creation of new work hubs in suburban/rural areas in the next 12 months. That means more jobs and money flowing into local economies.
Work Without Borders
In the future, work will know no boundaries. Eighty-three percent of employees predict that, in response to the global skilled talent shortage, companies will leverage flexible work models to reach out to candidates no matter where they live. 
While just 66 percent of HR directors feel the same, it’s clear that companies will need to meet employees where they are in order to position themselves to win in the future. Those organizations that leverage technology to enable remote work can not only attract hard-to-find talent, but also increase employee engagement and boost productivity. 
Virtual Reality
While the pandemic and the associated remote work mandates have physically separated workers, technology is keeping them connected and engaged. On average, two-thirds of employees and HR directors say they feel more connected to their direct managers, CEOs, senior management teams, and peers when working remotely than when working in the office. Seventy-three percent of employees and 72 percent of HR directors think the increased use of technology in the future will break down hierarchies and lead to more open communication with business leaders and senior management teams, which in turn may help employees and HR directors advance in their careers.
The organizations that provide employees with digital tools that remove the friction from work and enable them to be and do their best are the ones that will ultimately thrive. When employees feel empowered rather than hamstrung by the solutions they use, they can focus, innovate, and deliver value. 
Outcomes Over Output
Work is no longer about getting the most out of people, but the best. Today’s employees want to be assessed on the value they deliver, not the volume, and they expect to be given the space and trust they need to do their very best work, wherever they happen to be. 
Eighty-six percent of employees said they would prefer to work for a company that prioritizes outcome over output, but just 69 percent of HR directors say that their companies currently operate in this way. Sixty-nine percent of workers say they are more productive — by an average of 72 percent — when they feel their employer trusts them to get the job done without monitoring their progress. However, only 51 percent of HR directors think that their organizations would be more productive as a whole if their senior managers took this stance.
In the future, companies will need to rethink how they measure productivity. Traditional metrics will no longer cut it. Forward-thinking companies recognize this, and they will focus on designing people-centric experiences that unlock the full potential of their employees and empower them to deliver transformative results.
Career Agility
As the battle for talent heats up, and as new roles emerge to support new business models sparked by changes in customer preferences and needs, it will be important for organizations to focus on cultivating the talent they already have in addition to recruiting externally. 
Both employees and HR directors agree that digital learning programs will be key to acquiring and honing the skills necessary to maintain a competitive advantage. HR directors believe that ensuring an organization has the latest collaborative technology in place to enable agile learning is the most important factor in recruiting and retaining the best talent, and 88 percent of employees confirm this notion, saying that they look for this technology when searching for new positions. 
Diversity Matters
Employees and HR directors alike also agree that diversity will be a defining feature of the future workforce. Eighty-six percent of employees and two-thirds of HR directors believe that a diverse workforce will become even more important as roles, skills, and company requirements change over time. 
People want to work for companies where they can pursue their passions and explore, create, and innovate alongside individuals with different perspectives to deliver meaningful outcomes. As we work toward a world where there is more equity and opportunity for all, companies must focus on creating diverse and inclusive environments in which employees can be their authentic and whole selves, take risks, and feel empowered to contribute to the business. 
We live in the most uncertain of times, but one thing is clear: Talent will be critical to not simply recovering from the pandemic, but emerging stronger and better. Savvy organizations will embrace the chaos and the new, flexible work models that have been forced on them. They will cultivate workforces that are flexible, agile, diverse, and empowered to adapt to changing conditions and innovate quickly.