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Work-related stress is at its highest level since summer 2020

Brian Elliott, Future Forum Executive Leader & "How the Future Works" Co-Author, joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss survey data focusing on work-related stresses, hybrid work models, work-from-home perks, and how employees value the flexibility of schedules.

Video Transcript

RACHELLE AKUFFO: Welcome back, everyone. The return to work is also bringing back work related stress due to inflexible policies, according to Future Forum. Well, for more on this, now I'm joined by Brian Elliott, Future Forum executive leader and "How the Future Works" co-author. Welcome to the show. So first, I want to start by getting some of your key findings and surprises, as you really talked to some of these companies and employees about the future of work.

BRIAN ELLIOTT: Thanks, Rachelle. So what we do at Future Forum is, we run a set of surveys and instruments and research on one side, and then we talk with executives in hundreds of companies on the other side. Future Forum Pulse is our quarterly survey of over 10,000 knowledge workers around the globe. And what we found over the course of the past two years is, people's expectations have changed.

And especially top talent expects that flexibility is a key part of their work going forward. In fact, flexibility is second only to compensation and people's consideration about where they want to be employed. And that's changing a lot about how people think about not only where, but when people work. There's all the conversation about how many days a week somebody can work from home.

We're just starting to scratch the surface of an even more important issue, which is, how do you allow for schedule flexibility? How do you get us away from that sort of fixed 9:00 to 5:00 where I can jam pack a day full of meetings and shove all the work into the evening? So there's just so much that's going on in terms of the ability to attract, retain, and engage talent, that we wanted to put a book together around it, with best practices from hundreds of companies around the globe.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: And we did find in our Yahoo Finance poll the compensation and location or work from home flexibility also topped the list there. But so then if you were an employer hearing all these things that an employee wants in order to come and join your company, how do you adapt to that? What's the blueprint for that?

BRIAN ELLIOTT: The starting point really is around not thinking about the policies that you're going to put forward, but what are your principles? So from an executive perspective, I did this with Slack's executive team. Slack is our sponsor here at Future Forum. Slack itself was very office centric prior to the pandemic. Less than 3% of our entire employee base was remote. And so we had the same challenges that everybody else did, coming back out of this, which is, how are we going to think about how often people should come together?

Instead of sitting there and saying, top down, we're going to dictate what those rules look like, we realized the different teams have different needs. So let's start with principles. Like, there are benefits to flexibility. So we're going to afford people the opportunity to work where and when it's best for them. We're also going to provide them the tools.

For example, team level agreements-- ways that people can construct that a sales organization is going to normalize on a day or two, a week in the office that's going to be their norm, or an engineering team that's going to come together once a month for a week for more immersive time together. So if you start off with a principle like flexibility matters to us, and we're to allow people to work where and when they're most effective, it's much easier than dictating those policies from the top down, where you know you're going to get it wrong for the average.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: And so if we're taking a step back, if you're the employee now, you're thinking of jobs, I mean, we saw that nearly 3/4 of workers who quit to take a new job ended up having feelings of surprise or regret in their new job, according to career coaching company, The Muse. So before you even apply for a job, what should you be asking yourself so that you can try and find something that is a good fit for you?

BRIAN ELLIOTT: So there's a couple of things that come to mind around that, part of which is, the grass is always greener on the other side when you join a new organization. So thinking ahead about what are you going to get out of it, learning opportunities are really essential when we talk to people. Everyone's looking for flexibility. Can I work at least a few days a week from home to avoid the commute? And people are looking for career growth and learning opportunities so that they can continue to advance and grow.

One of the things that we talk about in the book is the fact that organizations actually need to think about how do they help people develop and grow. How do you help people think about questions like not who is resigning, but do they say to you that they feel like they can grow and advance within that-- your own organization? So for a lot of teams, it's not necessarily about thinking about where you're going. It's about, how am I going to retain the talented people that I've got today inside my four walls?

Flexibility, learning and growth opportunities, and importantly, the third one, which is transparency. People who don't believe that their senior management is being open with them about their future work plans are four times more likely to tell us that they are definitely looking for new jobs. Trust-- the ability to understand what's going on in the organization is really key to retaining talent.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: All right, thank you so much. Brian Elliott there, Future Forum executive leader, and "How the Future Works" co-author. Thank you so much.