The dramatically changed workplace landscape of 2022…

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Flexible work hours, more freelance gigs, social insights and enhanced corporate wellness programs that are convenient and accessible. These are just some of the trends the workplace has seen and continues to see in 2022.

Getting a sense of what has changed in the corporate world can help employees redefine their own job searches as well as become more circumspect about accepting job offers.

While some things will always stay the same – like the gossip at the office water cooler – the past two years have brought significant changes under the shadow of Covid-19 and global lockdowns. Some people hate the loneliness of working from home, but others have embraced the flexibility – and global positions are now more readily available as companies have accepted that working remotely is a working option and dramatically lowers costs.

When it comes to flexible hours, many companies are revising their old positions and offering employees options ranging from shared offices to home offices. In practice, this has translated into lower office rentals and employees report being more productive when they have the freedom to work from home and set their own hours.

A quarterly report by property analyst firm Rode & Associates, titled State of the Property Market, shows cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town had average office vacancy rates of 19.8% and 16.7%, respectively, in the last three months of 2021. Companies now allowing employees flexible working hours include the likes of Old Mutual.

Julien Raze, director of recruitment firm Michael Page Africa, says that aside from salary, culture and career growth as considerations for candidates looking to change roles, the best candidates are also likely to consider flexible work arrangements that companies can offer.

“Now, more than ever, applicants need to be confident they are making the right decision for themselves and their families,” Raze says.

Paul Newman, the company’s chief operating officer for South Africa, said a recent survey of 318 job applicants in the country found that 88% believed they could carry out their duties or responsibilities remotely. , emphasizing the need to accelerate technological capabilities.

“What started as an imposed work-from-home policy for some companies has now become a long-term strategy for most companies, accelerating digital transformation and technology adoption across nearly every industry.

“We have noticed a surge in the number of global organizations looking for rare talent to locate anywhere in the world. This is especially true in the technology sector, where there is a real skills shortage in South Africa,” he says.

While some companies have turned to flexible work arrangements for permanent employees, others forced to downsize have turned to the gig economy, hiring freelancers. Phillipa Geard, CEO of RecruitMyMom, says outsourcing skills for a fixed period or a defined project gives companies the flexibility to manage the impact of market uncertainties. However, in such an environment, this can get tricky as candidates are often asked about their rates and expected to assess their work.

Mental health and well-being in the workplace

Mental health has also come to the fore in the South African employment sector, with companies sitting up and taking note that stress levels affect performance, job satisfaction and employee turnover, to say the least. to name just a few.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) reports that presenteeism – where depressed workers are at work but not functioning due to mental stress – costs the country around R200 billion a year.

Old Mutual research last year found a 9% increase in mental health claims under disability coverage, continuing a three-year upward trajectory, and more than three-quarters of those claims are the result of a major depression. What are companies doing about it?

They are stepping up and making improvements to their corporate wellness programs. Improvements could be as simple as making access to these programs more discreet, providing employees with privacy and practical toolkits for managing stress.

It is no longer enough to have a corporate wellness program available. Employees should be comfortable enough to use the program so that they can solve their problems and improve productivity levels.

The World Health Organization defines burnout as a syndrome resulting from a chronic level of work-related stress. Notable effects are increased feelings of exhaustion or energy drain; increased mental distance from work or negative or cynical feelings related to it; and reduced efficiency.

A survey conducted this year by the Top Employers Institute showed that 95% of respondents consider wellbeing to be a key business imperative and have taken action to make this awareness felt within their organizations.

About 92% of top employers have ongoing communication about their wellness programs, 84% have senior managers involved in these established programs, and 88% have emotional wellness awareness initiatives.

Stronger social voices

Companies are no longer able to hide behind corporate screens and remain silent on social issues. The rise of CSG – corporate social governance – requires companies to develop a voice on social issues and then put their money where their mouth is.

This does not just mean donations, but must be seen in the actions and strategy of the company, so that it can demonstrate its sustainability on issues such as climate change and diversity.

According to a recent Sage Payroll and HR research report, 73% of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) cater specifically to the needs of Gen Z, and 31% of SMBs pay more strategic attention to the concerns of the LGBTQ+ community. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly newspaper Daily Maverick 168 which is available for R25 from Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. To find your nearest retailer, please click on here.

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