The nine-to-five is dead – here's what's set to replace it

Chief people officer reveals what's in store for HR leaders in 2022 and beyond

The nine-to-five is dead – here's what's set to replace it

It’s no secret that the COVID pandemic has had a huge impact on the way businesses are run - but there’s also been a switch in the way that people, and HR leaders, approach work. Employees have had time and space to reassess their lives and a lot of them have found they much prefer the work-life balance that remote models have created. Some of this attitude is at the core of the "Great Resignation" trend that we’re seeing creeping closer to our shores. As we start to see the pandemic in our rear-view mirrors, and return to a version of normalcy looks imminent, it’s time to assess what HR has learned from the last two years - and how we integrate that into leadership moving forward.

“As a business, I don’t think we will ever go back to that traditional model of nine-to-five, five days a week,” Robert Stone, chief people officer at global marketing agency Wunderman Thompson, told HRD. “People have assessed what’s important to them in life, and that’s work-life balance and wellbeing.”

The marketing and advertising industry has a turnover percentage in the mid to high thirties. Wunderman Thompson is tracking significantly lower than the industry standard over the timespan of the pandemic – something Stone is certifiably proud of. 

“Through this situation, I think employees saw the true colour of businesses, of how they treated their people,” he added. “Employers that may not have handled it the right away are still feeling the repercussions. We had to re-educate our managers to think, it’s all new - how do we work through this? In the beginning, a lot of people tried to remotely replicate culture from what was in an office environment. However, we eventually had to look at things in a different way and redefine what culture is to a workplace.”

The two big priorities for Wunderman Thompson were what’s culture to a business now, and how do you build culture, create culture, and retain culture in a fully remote world?

“Rather than one blanket approach to working we’ve created a really big sense of trust from our leadership team to our people,” said Stone. “We trust our people to do what works for them as long as they’re delivering the output that’s required. If you have to pick up your kids at 3pm or go for a surf at 11am, do what you have to do to get the best out of you. Giving that level of trust to our people came back big time from a loyalty perspective and gave them a sense of belonging to an organisation that cares.”

The businesses that are retaining talent are the ones that’re putting their employees at the core of what they do.

“Just because we’re going through this weird transition, it doesn’t mean that you or your career should be impacted by it,” added Stone. “We’ve put people and development and careers at the forefront. I think that’s really helped create that real sense of belonging as a business and I think that has essentially created a much more high-performing culture. I think its accelerated new ways of working and confirmed that you can work in a hybrid model and still have the same quality of output.”

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