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This article was originally published by Human Resource Director

By Jess Bell

May 25, 2021

A new study into workplaces of the future has found more than half of Gen Y workers are looking to ditch their jobs. For Australians overall, 43% are planning to look for a new job in the next 12 months, according to the data from Nespresso Professional’s Workplace of the Future 2021 research report.

The research underlines how dramatically employee values have changed as a result of the pandemic. The focus for physical workspaces is now on collaboration and socialising, rather than a space solely optimised to get work done. With most industries struggling against the current talent shortage in Australia and New Zealand, embracing this future of work will be key to attracting and retaining the best employees.

Speaking at the launch of Nespresso Professional’s new research, attended by HRD, organisational psychologist Dr Amantha Imber said there are a number of ways employers can gain an advantage in the fight for talent.

“The first is certainly offering autonomy and making sure that people still have the freedom to work in ways that suit them and at times that suit them, whether that’s working from home some days or not necessarily having to conform to nine-to-five hours,” she said.

“Mastery is another one, making sure that people have the ability to learn and master skills as part of their role. Then human connection is the third element of motivation that psychologists really think about when we’re questioning how to maximise motivation and engagement at work.”

She urged employers to actively encourage employees to take breaks throughout the day, whether that is the responsibility of managers, HR, or through clever use of technology. In a recent study by Microsoft, researchers looked at the effects of back-to-back virtual meetings on the brain. Between the second and third meetings, participants showed a significant spike in stress levels.

As a result, organisations, teams or individuals can now shorten meetings by default to include a break between commitments, giving employees the chance to reset and refresh.

Similarly, Nespresso Professional’s research also highlighted the value of an employer rewarding breaks while staff are working from home and across all age groups, 98% said a stronger focus on employee wellbeing and mental health was increasingly necessary.

Having recently judged the AFR’s Best Places to Work list, Imber said she has witnessed how hundreds of workplaces have reacted to the greater need to support employee mental health. But the biggest mistake she’s seen has been underestimating the fundamental role of a manager and their employee.

“A lot of us are going back to the office a couple of times a week so now it’s about really prioritising the human connection that a manager has with the people they look after. Research has shown that people join an organisation for the company but they leave because of a manager,” she said.

Imber said wherever possible, managers should be encouraged to take these catch-up conversations away from the formal setting of an office or a boardroom.

Fellow panellist Jean-Marc Dragoli, general manager at Nespresso Oceania, said a team leader’s ability to facilitate conversations also comes down to adequate training.

“The role of what we call the line manager is fascinating,” he said. “How do you look after your people, how do you ask certain questions, how do you do know if someone is feeling well or not? I think there’s an aspect of training as well that goes towards managers being able to have that kind of conversation.”