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  • #5: People will work from the office if they like the way it looks; Happiness and human sustainability, new performance metrics.

#5: People will work from the office if they like the way it looks; Happiness and human sustainability, new performance metrics.

Australians have been given the green light to ignore their bosses; More time off = more loyal employees; Business leaders believe AI will be a game changer for organisations.

Welcome to the newest edition of Hacking Work International Newsletter!

Here’s what you can expect every Thursday:
Updates on the global job market; the latest developments in leadership and organisational culture; valuable insights into professional and educational landscapes; modern perspectives on careers; and the evolving nature of work.

In today's email:

Tell me what the office looks like and I'll tell you if I'm going to work from there.

74% of employees are open to working from the office again, according to a Cisco survey of 4,500 employees and 1,050 employers in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Poland and Spain.

However, one in three employees feel that their workspace is not properly equipped and adapted to today's needs. More than half feel that there is too much space for individual work and would like a friendlier environment that encourages collaboration.

Although 85% of employers understand the importance of adapting the workplace to the needs of employees, only 65% have concrete plans to modernise in the next two years. Employers must recognise the importance of adapting workspaces to ensure that employees enjoy coming to the office, feel that it is worth the commute, and do not feel as isolated as when working remotely.

Employee: "Tell me what the office looks like and I'll tell you if I'm going to work from there".- Hacking Work

This image was generated with Dall-E.

In addition, what is the cost of returning to the office for an employee?

A recent study of 14,000 US employees who were called back to work from the office found that they experienced higher levels of burnout, stress, and turnover intentions. Additionally, the study found that levels of trust in the employer, as well as engagement and productivity, were very low. Commuting and lack of flexibility are the biggest challenges. Even a 30-minute commute has been shown to have an impact on stress and anger levels. Commuting for 45 minutes is associated with poor overall emotional and physical health. Therefore, flexibility is crucial for employees as it enables them to manage their household responsibilities with greater ease.

If you are a leader and believe that your employees working from home will result in a loss for your organization, this study contradicts you. In fact, research has shown that remote workers have a higher level of contribution to the company in terms of hours worked.

Additionally, US employees who commute spend an average of $561 per month on transportation, extra child and pet care, and household maintenance services. This amount is equivalent to the average monthly food expenses of a household consisting of two people.

To conclude, it is important to treat the process of returning to the office with a high level of humanity, sensitivity, and empathy to maintain a strong organizational culture and employees' sense of belonging.

New performance metrics: happiness & human sustainability.

Business leaders are facing a major challenge in measuring employee performance, and experts say this is due to traditional productivity metrics, which are no longer sufficient to optimize performance. According to the 2024 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, nearly 75% of business leaders believe that identifying new performance metrics is crucial for the success of their organizations. However, only 40% of them are taking action in this direction, and only 8% consider themselves truly effective in implementing real changes.

In the context of technological developments and the integration of artificial intelligence, there is increasing emphasis on sophisticated skills such as problem-solving ability, creativity, and collaboration, which are difficult to measure using traditional methods. The Deloitte report recommends focusing on "human sustainability," which includes well-being, happiness, and work purpose, as means of improving team performance.

Leaders who successfully implement the new productivity measures are 1.7 times more likely to achieve desired results, both in terms of business and employee morale. This is evidenced by the experiment conducted by the Japanese company Hitachi, which, instead of focusing on maximizing work hours or streamlining processes, chose to track employee happiness as a key metric. Using wearable devices and a mobile application, Hitachi provided AI-based suggestions to increase employees' sense of happiness, leading to a 33% increase in their psychological well-being and a 10% improvement in profits.

human performance metrics - diagram - Hacking Work

79% of business leaders say generative AI will be a game changer for organisations.

8 out of 10 global business leaders believe the technology will transform their organisation in the next three years, according to Deloitte's study ”The State of Generative AI in the Enterprise: Now decides next”. More than half of respondents will focus primarily on the technology's tactical benefits, such as improving efficiency and productivity (56%) and reducing costs (35%). Areas that are considered strategic - including driving innovation (29%) and discovering new ideas and insights (19%) - are not on the priority list.

Simultaneously, corporate leaders perceive the shortage of technically proficient employees as the primary obstacle hindering the widespread integration of generative AI technology. Only 22% of executives believe that organisations are prepared to address the human capital issues that AI adoption will create. Few leaders are focusing on training and reskilling, with 47% saying they are adequately educating employees on the capabilities, benefits and value of AI.

78% of executives surveyed say more government regulation of AI is needed, while 72% do not believe there is enough collaboration globally to ensure the responsible development of these systems. The survey was conducted among more than 2,800 business and technology leaders with expertise in AI from 16 countries and 6 industries.

Byte-sized news

Australians have been given the green light to ignore their bosses. Australia is introducing laws that give employees the official right to ignore calls and messages outside working hours without penalty. Employers can even be fined for breaking the rule. The "right to disconnect" is part of a bill that includes a series of legislative changes aimed at protecting workers' rights and helping to restore work-life balance. France, Spain and other EU countries already have laws giving workers the right to disconnect their devices at the end of the day.
Is your work performance in decline? Try singing. Recent studies indicate that active engagement in music, whether it's playing an instrument or singing in a choir, not only keeps our minds sharp but also enhances our working memory. Devoting 2-3 hours per week to musical activities can lead to higher cognitive scores, improved planning abilities, and essential organizational skills that are crucial for professional life. Moreover, as individuals age, they are less prone to dementia. Thus, music serves not only as a form of relaxation but also as an effective strategy for maintaining mental agility and staving off cognitive decline.
Young people don't have the money to go to work to earn money. More than 2,000 16-25-year-olds say financial pressures are limiting their career aspirations, and 1 in 10 UK Gen Z have turned down job offers because of high commute and uniform costs, the NatWest Youth 2024 Annual Index reveals. In addition, confidence in financial stability has hit the lowest level on record in the 15 years since the index started monitoring the well-being of young people in the U.K., with more than half of respondents concerned that they will never have financial security and the thought of money a source of stress for more than a third.
Japan launches 6-month visa for digital nomads. The programme, which allows people to work remotely from anywhere in Japan without being a local employee, is open to citizens of 49 countries, but sets a daunting minimum annual income requirement of 10 million yen (about $68,300). An important feature of this visa is the possibility of bringing family members into the country on the condition that they have private health insurance. The programme is expected to be launched in March.
A former TikTok executive was fired because she "lacked the docility and meekness", as was expected of women at the company. Katie Ellen Puris claims that although she was hired in 2019 and promoted in the US for her performance, she ended up on a so-called "kill list" of employees orchestrated by Lidong Zhang, president of ByteDance, TikTok's parent company. She has sued the company, accusing it of discrimination and retaliation.
After being fired from LinkedIn, she got a job at Google - with double the pay - by making a viral video. Her unconventional initiative stood out in Google's highly competitive hiring process, and Mariana Kobayashi was hired at Google's Dublin office after showcasing her work experience in a creative video.
More than 34,000 employees were laid off in 2024 from more than 140 tech companies, according to Layoffs.fyi. Recent layoffs include Docusign - 6% of its workforce, Grammarly - 230 employees and Pure Storage - 275 employees. In addition, Warner Music Group is to cut 600 jobs (10% of the total) as part of a $200 million cost-cutting plan.
How much does a Tesla employee earn? With more than 140,000 employees, mostly in the US, Tesla announced in January a 'market adjustment wage increase' for production and management employees. The move is part of a trend in which automakers such as Toyota and Hyundai have raised wages following the historic United Auto Workers contract. Tesla recently raised wages for workers at its US factories, according to internal documents seen by Business Insider. The wage figures, announced in December and implemented in January, show that workers now earn between $22 and $39 an hour.
McKinsey & Co. gives an 'unsatisfactory' rating to about 3,000 employees. But these concerns about employee performance seem to mask a larger problem: after expanding rapidly during the pandemic, firms are now finding that there is not enough work for everyone and are starting to find excuses to lay people off. The number of employees at McKinsey has increased by 60% to 45,000 since 2018. Many now spend more time waiting for new assignments than actually working.
The youngest employees redefine the office attire concept: the „office siren” aesthetic. This trend combines classic corporate attire with the charm of the '90s and 2000s, featuring bold red lips, pencil skirts, high-heeled stilettos, turtleneck sweaters, and statement jewellery. It has become popular on TikTok. There is a renewed interest in glasses as a fashion accessory, even among those with perfect vision. Critics argue that the style is more of a "cry for attention". However, supporters believe that it is a positive expression of confidence and personal style, as long as it is not taken to extremes and does not compromise professionalism. 

More time off results in more loyal employees.

Did you know that over 80% of US employers plan to change their leave policies within the next two years to attract and retain employees and enhance their experience? This is great news for employees who are looking for a company that values their well-being and work-life balance.

  • Caregiver leave: Approximately 25% of the surveyed companies currently provide this type of leave, and this percentage is expected to rise significantly in the near future.

  • Parental leave: The vast majority of companies offer maternity leave (86%) and paternity leave (82%). One-fifth of companies intend to extend the duration of parental leave, with a growing trend towards providing equal leave for both parents.

  • Bereavement leave: More than 90% of companies offer paid leave, typically lasting 3-5 days. However, a quarter of companies expand their policies to cover losing extended family members and friends.

These adjustments stem from intense competition for talent and a commitment to enhancing employee satisfaction. While leave policies differ widely depending on factors such as company size, industry, and location, there's a notable shift towards fostering a work environment that prioritises fulfilling employees' specific needs.

Are you cutting benefits? You're also reducing employee engagement

In recent years, cutting back on employee benefits has been one of the first cost-cutting measures taken by companies. And this could harm productivity and loyalty, according to new research.

Since the pandemic began, we have seen a significant decline in benefits offered. Before the pandemic, 38% of employees had access to various types of benefits, such as flexibility and professional development, but now only 24% have access to them. And these two benefits are among the most valued.

According to Dayforce's Pulse of Talent report, approximately 55% of employees worldwide would put less effort into their jobs if their employer removed an important benefit, and some 60% would be less loyal to the company.

Flexibility and career development opportunities are some of the least expensive benefits an employer can offer. And yet these are the first ones they want to get rid of.

Why is it crucial to give your mind a break - and how can you achieve it?

Do you find yourself feeling irritable, forgetting things more often, and struggling to quiet your mind when you try to sleep at night? These are signs that your brain is fatigued. In today's fast-paced world, filled with stress, pressure, and constant stimulation, prioritizing mental rest is vital for maintaining equilibrium and optimal performance. Just as our bodies need rest to recharge, our minds need a break from stimulation to regenerate, process information and recover from daily demands. So, what steps can you take to provide your mind with some much-needed peace?

  1. Firstly, recognize the necessity of rest. Besides your sleeping hours, do you truly allow yourself to rest? Consider setting aside time for complete relaxation, free from any plans or obligations. Give yourself moments of doing absolutely nothing, without stress or pressure, without self-blame for putting off non-urgent tasks.

  2. Dispel fears. Temper any irrational thought or fear related to rest - such as the idea that if you relax, you'll lose your edge, situations will deteriorate without your involvement, you'll disappoint those around you, and people will criticize you.

  3. Engage only in meaningful activities. Refuse to load your task list with new tasks, take more breaks, and help your mind disengage from discussions or internal battles that are unnecessary.

Hiring freeze increases employee distrust.

According to Glassdoor, employee confidence in their employer's performance over the next six months reached 45.6% in January 2024, the lowest level since 2016. While 64.9% of senior managers are confident in their employer's prospects, only 48.9% of mid-level employees and 48.8% of entry-level employees feel the same.

Concerns about hiring freezes may be affecting employee optimism. According to Glassdoor, an increasing number of companies have implemented hiring freezes in 2023, up 81% from the previous year. More than half of the more than 900 CEOs surveyed by ResumeBuilder in December 2023 plan to pause hiring this year.


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The newsletter is written by the Hacking Work team: Cristina, Ioana, Izabella, Andreea, Ionuț, Loredana, Tibi, Iulia, Alexia and Doru.

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