Covid-19 has brought with it change, for better or for worse. After more than a year of business disruption and quarantine, nations around the world are finally rolling out their vaccines in full-force. As more and more people get inoculated, we cannot blame businesses who expect things to go back to the way it was pre-pandemic.  However, the truth is that the employee-workplace relationship has likely changed forever. Executives recognise the profound effect this moment could have on how organisations recruit, support, and interact with workers in the future.

Deloitte’s 2021 Global Human Capital Trends Special Report, “The Worker-Employer Relationship Disrupted: If We’re Not Family, What Are We?,” predicts four potential futures based on the evolving worker-employer relationship, and how leaders are addressing those challenges while simultaneously coping and dealing with the ongoing health crisis, economic uncertainty, and the wide array of current social movenments. Each scenario is based upon two factors that will have the greatest impact on the evolution of the worker-employer relationship: the supply of talent and the degree of government action.

According to the report, up to 86 percent of surveyed executives believe that workers will gain greater independence and influence relative to employers in the future. At the same time, we can see that 63 percent of workers think their relationship with their employers will either improve greatly or stay the same. The workforce now have many expectations that they want employers to fulfill. As such, organisations now find themselves being more heavily scrutinised by the talent pool. Said organisations will have to contemplate how this intersects with their purpose and how to balance shareholder and stakeholder needs.

Work as Fashion
Many organisations are currently experiencing this reactive employer-worker relationship, often focusing on the most fashionable topics of the moment. As they develop new policies for the future of work, organisations are responding to worker feedback, competitor actions and marketplace trends in real-time through surveys and other listening tools. Although this allows organisations to gauge worker feedback at the moment, it can also relegate corporate purpose to mere window dressing.

War Between Talent
In a future where the talent supply outpaces the availability of jobs, the employer-worker relationship is impersonal, with the employer in a power position, valuing efficient work over developing and investing in the workforce. This could fuel trends such as globalisation, offshoring, automation of work and the use of the alternative workforce.

Work is Work
This scenario centers on drawing clear lines between work and personal life and maintaining a professional employer-worker relationship. Access to benefits such as financial stability and paid time off play a crucial role in this scenario, as workers need both to be able to pursue fulfillment outside of work. It also means that the work itself becomes the dominant factor in the employer-worker relationship.

Purpose Unleashed
Many organisations have embraced purpose, recognising its potential impact on their corporate reputation. These organisations have put purpose at the heart of business decision-making and have focused on uniting their workers around a common goal. In this communal worker-employer future, the two parties operate as co-creators of the organisational purpose and rely on each other for organisational and personal fulfillment.


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