Page 47 - BusinessWest May 13, 2024
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 increases for 2024 were not predicted to be as high as they were in 2023
— and benefits are scaling back, espe- cially in terms of employers sharing the increased cost of healthcare. And some of the other benefits around wellness have gone away.
“We’re trying to find that next nor- mal,” she went on, acknowledging a dislike of the phrase ‘new normal.’ “And we’re still settling into that; we’re trying to find the right balance of productivity expectations for employees versus what we’re offering — the employee value proposition. What does that look like?”
Meanwhile, the workplace has changed in other ways, again mimick- ing society in many respects.
Today, Ebner said, it’s a less toler- ant place than it was years ago, with co-workers becoming seemingly less willing to accept points of view — on a wide of topics — other than their own.
“There’s a lack of respect in our workplaces today for ideas, thoughts, basically anything that someone has that differs from yours,” she explained. “There’s a very confrontational under- tone in our workplaces today.
“The congenial tone of our work- places where we were more accept- ing of people who don’t think and do things like us has really diminished, and it’s causing a lot of chaos for employers trying to manage a respect- ful workplace,” she went on, adding that this chaos has manifested in everything from microaggressions — stealing coworkers’ lunches and mess- ing with their workstations — to sharp rises in requests at EANE for conflict- resolution training and coaching for people who can’t get along.
Remote Possibilities
Certainly, the biggest change to come to the workplace involves fewer people being in the workplace day in and day out.
We all know what happened. COVID forced most people to work remotely, and over the course of weeks that eventually turned into months, people found they liked it, and they were, by and large, just as productive. And when it came time to go back to the office, many weren’t ready to do so. At least not every day.
Over the past few years, remote work and hybrid schedules have ceased being a perk, if that’s even the right word. They became a demand, or an expectation.
As noted earlier, this was not the first preference for the old timers, who came into a world where every- one worked 9 to 5, or something close, and couldn’t work remotely even if they wanted to, because the technology wasn’t there.
It’s certainly there now, and in recent months, two camps have seemed to develop, at opposite extremes.
“There’s a camp on one side that says everyone has to be in the office,
and there’s no remote work, and they don’t want to offer any flex- ibility. And then, you have the other group that says everyone should be virtual, and if you’re not virtual, you’re not a modern employer,” said Ebner, adding that there is room in the middle and one size (or two) does not fit all.
Meanwhile, many of those who rec- ognize this middle ground still believe something important is missing when
“You want to wear jeans? You want to work at home? I have to compete, so I have to acquiesce to what the market is doing.”
people are not in the office, even a few days a week.
Dave Glidden, president and CEO of Middletown, Conn.-based Liberty Bank,
said his institution has largely solved the issues involving productivity when it comes to remote work. But he wor- ries about culture and the overall devel- opment of younger team members.
“When I came up, I don’t know how many times I sat in the conference room and listened to grizzled veterans talk about problem commercial credits and about how you go to market,” he recalled. “That learning was invaluable to me as I came up, and there are now fewer opportunities for young people coming up to experience that.”
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