The Wall Street Journal recently issued this rather stark warning to what some are calling “resistors,” i.e., those employees who are less than enthusiastic about returning to an office. “Bosses are stepping up office surveillance this fall, vowing to use regular reports from badge systems to determine how many people are adhering to the return-to-work policy.”1
Unfortunately, this is what it has come to; badge swipes, ceiling mounted heat sensors, and weight sensors in office chairs. The WSJ article goes on to say that “according to a survey of employees conducted by real-estate services company CBRE, 57% of companies are now tracking attendance. Among those conducting such tracking, almost half are doing so based on feedback from managers, while another 41% are tracking through badge swipes, sensors or data indicating where an employee’s computer is being used.”
While I loathe the phrase “new normal,” employers are now faced with an entirely new kind of workforce. Is hybrid work here to stay? I’m not sure that anyone has the answer. I do know that as an employer, I struggle every day with the issues that come with hybrid work.
Unfortunately, as if we employers didn’t have enough to worry about – with an uncertain economy, lingering supply chain issues, geopolitical unrest, and new competitors entering the marketplace daily, we are now contending with a workforce characterized by:
- Quiet quitting – when employees continue to put in the minimum amount of effort to keep their jobs – a portion of the workforce which Gallup estimates to be at least 50%2
- A rise in the impact of sustainable business practices — workers feel strongly about a company’s mission and values, with 70% of workers prepared to leave if their company had an unfair gender pay gap and 68% saying the same about a lack of a diversity and inclusion policy3
- The rise of the “side hustle,”4 where individuals, primarily remote workers, attempt to work two jobs at the same time, while being compensated by one employer for full time work. This is a workplace trend in which a significant number of workers are engaged.
- Historically low unemployment rates
Is all of the above theoretical? Hardly. I spend far too much of my time addressing the above employee “characteristics” than I should. I have a business to run, not a daycare center. I’m also noticing that roughly 80% of the resumes I receive are from people who have had four jobs in the last four or five years, with many of them at their current job for just three or four months. Why would I hire such a person? Why should I think that in three or four months they won’t be looking to leave my company, leaving me to go through the whole recruiting process again, which is time consuming and expensive? It seems like individuals don’t stay at a job more than a few months before they start looking for another one.
Now, I’m sure that banks are committed to offering a workplace environment where employees can feel empowered, can collaborate, have a path forward, etc. I want all of those things for my employees, too.
But, there’s only so much employers can do and, right now, it appears – not just for me, but for many business owners – what I’m willing to do simply isn’t enough. Which is why we’re all looking at measures such as badge and screen time monitoring.
Since I work closely with banks, I take a special interest in how issues like these affect my banking customers. This is what I hear: banks want and need their employees onsite every day of the week. Watch the news and you can see that this is where they’re heading. An obvious reason? The financial services industry is a different kind of animal. Financial institutions handle massive amounts of data and face a continually evolving regulatory landscape. They’re prime targets for cyber criminals. In short, banks face unique challenges when it comes to remote workers. After all, each remote employee’s device – connected to a home Wi-Fi network – constitutes a security risk, one that exposes the bank to a malicious cyber attack. And the consequences of that data being breached can be massive – from burdensome fines to irreparable reputational damage. So, is it any wonder that banks would love to bring their employees back into the office on a full-time basis? Not to me.
So, when it comes to a hybrid workforce, what is a bank to do? Seems pretty obvious.
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1The Wall Street Journal. Attention office resistors: The boss is counting badge swipes. September 24, 2023.
2Gallup. Is quiet quitting real? September 2022.
3ADP Research Institute. People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View. April 2022.
4Bankrate. Survey: 39% have a side hustle, and 44% believe they’ll always need one. March 2023.