Top Ten Work Trends Quarterly Updates

A diverse group of SIOP members are serving as Trend Champions for the people-related work trends that SIOP members collaboratively predicted to be the most impactful in 2022. Each Trend Champion has expertise in and professional passion for their trend subject. SIOP appreciates their service to the profession in providing quarterly updates on their chosen topics.

Find the full list of topics and links to the other Top 10 Work Trends here

Trend #5: Caring for Employee Well-Being

2022 3rd Quarter Update: not submitted

2022 2nd Quarter Update

Several dynamics mentioned in Q1 of this trend recur in this second quarter’s updates from Trend 4, Trend 6, and Trend 9. During this second quarter, caring for employees’ well-being remains on the agenda because of resignation risks. A survey of 2,100 employees and C-level executives by Deloitte and Workplace Intelligence revealed that nearly 70% of the C-level employees consider resigning for a job that takes better care of their well-being. Although this c-level of employees struggled with the perceived care for well-being, they seemed to overestimate how well employees, or subordinates, perceived and received well-being care. There appears to be a clear difference or mismatch between the awareness of supervisors and executives about care for employees’ well-being and to which extent employees see and experience these efforts. 

This demands renewed effort in developing employee well-being management systems. For example, acknowledging and rewarding work efforts seem to return and translate into experienced and exhibited employee well-being. Recent work by McKinsey refers to psychological needs which tie in with the needs for autonomy, belongingness, and competence. However, as employees – reported in the study by Deloitte – experience very high levels of exhaustion, we might first want to focus on reenergizing employees. An analysis of a recent Gallup study also stresses how companies fail to take care of employees and fail to engage in employee well-being actions. However, we may wonder whether this is an issue of capability and competencies, or grit and courage.
2022 1st Quarter Update

As we conclude the first quarter of 2022, it is clear that the impact of COVID-19 on workers’ psyche is here to stay. Caring for the well-being of a post-pandemic workforce requires companies to acknowledge that a return to normal business operations does not mean a return to business as usual. With the psychological impact of tightening budgets, greater ambiguity, longer hours, and work isolation during the pandemic still fresh on many employees’ minds, they are less willing to tolerate work environments and leaders they perceive to be uncaring and unsupportive of their well-being. In fact, a recent study by McKinsey reported that among workers who quit during the Great Resignation without a job in hand, the two most common reasons were uncaring leaders and unsustainable performance demands. Lack of support for employee health and well-being was the fifth most-cited reason, influencing nearly 3 out of 10 quitters—more than both inadequate compensation and a lack of flexibility. 

One new development I’ve seen in this area is “stay interviews.” Unlike exit interviews, stay interviews are conversations in which managers interview their employees in an attempt to understand what they can do to retain them. These conversations, when accompanied with trust, transparency, and appropriate follow-through, can not only help identify employees’ needs, frustrations, and motivations, but also improve the manager-employee relationship. Perhaps most fundamentally, they demonstrate care and concern for employees, communicating their value and importance as contributors to the organization. 

Given limited time, managers may choose to conduct stay interviews with critical roles or high potential talent before implementing a system to conduct them with all direct reports. Compensation and benefits such as flexible working arrangements can certainly be part of the discussion, but as SIOP members Isabel Bilotta, Shannon Cheng, Meghan Davenport, and Eden King note in their recent article, it’s also critical to determine what can be done to reduce the stressors employees are facing. Managers can review their article for a helpful summary of the kinds of emotional, cognitive, and physical demands employees are facing during the pandemic, such as a lack of information and ambiguity regarding their responsibilities, the pressure to put on a “brave face” despite mental health struggles, and long hours of back-to-back virtual meetings with infrequent breaks. While conducting stay interviews, managers should provide openness and empathy concerning these kinds of pressures. Bilotta and colleagues also provide a helpful overview of resources that can be used to help bolster employee well-being in light of these challenges, including feedback, social support, and autonomy.  

As we look to Quarter 2, I expect to see greater discussion concerning the juggling act of balancing the positive outcomes of workplace flexibility (e.g., employee schedule satisfaction, work-family balance) with some of its drawbacks, including workplace isolation, perceived career consequences, and lower-quality workplace relationships. 

Champion: Maryana Arvan, PhD

Maryana Arvan, PhD

Maryana Arvan, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychological Science in the Department of Organizational Science at the University of North Carolina - Charlotte. She examines how stressful experiences at work affect employee attitudes, health and well-being, and performance, with an emphasis on methodological concerns. She received her B.A. in English from The University of Arizona, and her Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of South Florida.