ORLANDO -- The pandemic, remote and hybrid work, and cost-of-living increases are disrupting the workforce like never before. And these trends are prompting employees to reconsider the role of work in their lives, according to Gartner.
The research and consultancy's theme for its ReimagineHR 2022 conference, which opened Monday, was an argument that workforces are fragmenting and employees are feeling less connected to their jobs. The best defense against fragmentation and disconnection for employers is to focus on being more human.
In a steady stream of data, Gartner analysts said the past couple of years has prompted some soul searching among employees.
About 65% of them "tell us that they are now reconsidering the role of work in their lives," said Kimberly Shells, a Gartner analyst, citing a survey at the conference opening keynote. Their families, hobbies and communities "are relatively more valued now than have been in the past," she said.
Turnover to continue
Gartner is predicting a 20% turnover for the foreseeable future, Shells said, and in the remote and hybrid workplace, "barriers to job switching are as low as they've ever been."
Kimberly ShellsAnalyst, Gartner
The increased turnover is fragmenting workplaces, and the rise of virtual work comes with some negative implications for workers who tend to feel less connected, isolated and alone.
Technology isn't necessarily making life for workers easier; about 10% of an employee's time is spent opening and closing applications.
One way to counter the workforce negatives is to focus on "intentional interactions" or relationship-building connections. Don't just grow an employee's workplace skills, but also provide an environment for overall growth.
One attendee, Robert Mueninghoff, a senior manager of benefits and compensation at Lockheed Martin, an aerospace and defense firm in Bethesda, Md., said Gartner's message resonated with him.
"Personal interaction is always a concern," Mueninghoff said. He added that while he feels his HR organization has done a good job with the transition to virtual work, the idea of intentional interaction is something "we need to focus more on," he said, adding that one-on-one meetings can create those interactions.
To improve the work climate, Gartner analysts pointed to companies that allow employees to use a learning platform to learn anything, with the idea that all development is professional development, Shells said. Other companies offer enrichment time or time to work with a charity in addition to personal time off.
One practice is "proactive rest," which can involve setting aside nap time or meeting-free days or weeks. Companies that do this have seen a 26% increase in performance, the research firm stated.
Retention and consolidation
Apart from the problem of retention, Gartner is also expecting increased consolidation in the HR technology market.
John Kostoulas, a Gartner analyst, said the HR market is consolidating because of the availability of mature but underperforming vendors, particularly in talent acquisition. Another reason is spending by private equity firms is increasing, he said.
"Consolidation mainly serves vendor and investment interests," Kostoulas said. But it could positively affect customers with better pricing, integrations and "some simplification of your vendor landscape." He said it can also introduce disadvantages, including slower innovation, price hikes and contractual term changes.
Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies for TechTarget Editorial. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.