How remote workers spend their free time, driving profitability through employee happiness

Plus, one CEO’s thoughts on driving business through employee happiness.

Greetings, comms pros! Let’s look at some news stories from the last week and see what we can learn from them.

1. Remote workers are saving 60 million commuting hours — and working less. Here’s how they spend their extra time.

The pandemic has led to fundamental changes in how we work. One of those changes is tied to commute times, which many remote and hybrid workers are now gaining back during work from home situations. This has led to more time for employees to focus on personal pursuits and family time.

Entrepreneur reports:

The American Time Use survey analyzed by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that employees are spending fewer hours working and significantly more on sleep and leisure.

All groups of remote workers got approximately one additional hour of sleep per day. But younger employees were more likely to spend time on leisure activities, including going to bars and restaurants or working out, while older employees used their extra time on domestic work like cooking, cleaning and childcare.

Employees might be working less, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily being less productive.

“If you spend 9-to-5, or however many hours a day you’re working, on super energy-draining activities, it doesn’t really matter how many hours you log — you’re not going to be high-performing and you’re not going to be engaged,” Alexia Cambon, a research leader of consulting firm Gartner’s human resources practice, told Bloomberg.

Just because employees aren’t tied to their in-office desks anymore, doesn’t mean they’re going to be less productive. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that a well-rested, personally fulfilled employee is going to be a better worker than one that is stressed and doesn’t have time for personal pursuits outside of work. Different people work their best in different ways, and companies should cater to those needs.

2. A forced return to the office? As the job market cools, companies may regain the upper hand over workers

As more and more workers return to their offices full-time, there’s been an interesting development taking place amid the uncertain economy.

USA Today reports:

A cooling job market is leading to more than a slowdown in hiring, a pickup in layoffs and growing recession fears.

It appears to be the one force capable of prodding America’s workers out of their homes and back to offices.

The slowing labor market is starting to shift some bargaining power from employees to employers, allowing a growing number of companies to require workers to return to the office at least a few days a week, staffing officials and consultants say. Many businesses are still struggling to find workers and so the change is in its early stages, but it’s expected to accelerate as hiring pulls back further and layoffs spread in the months ahead, experts say.

“Companies are a little less concerned that they’re not going to fill jobs if they lose people because of return-to-work policies,” says Jim McCoy, senior vice president of talent solutions for ManpowerGroup, a leading staffing firm. “There’s starting to be less competition for talent, and employers can be a little more selective.”

In late September, 36% of organizations required workers to be in the office at least three days a week, up from 25% in August, according to a Gartner survey of 240 human resources leaders. And just 22% had no onsite work requirements, down from 31%.

With fears of economic upheaval, trends point to workers doing what they need to do to hold on to the jobs they have. While this is understandable, the hope is that companies don’t use apprehension over a weakening economy to force employees back to their offices. The pandemic, despite the countless negative societal impacts it has had, has allowed both employees and employers to find out what work situations work best for the most mentally healthy situations for workers.

3. A CEO’s guide to driving profitability through employee happiness

A happy employee is generally a good employee. Thankfully, it seems some thought leaders are realizing that the power of their employees can be unlocked by keeping them satisfied at work.

Forbes reports:

Companies rely on their CEO to drive strategic decisions and maximize profits for shareholders. Historically, employee-related activities have been the responsibility of the human resources department. However, more executives are beginning to realize that employees are a critical element that influences the organization’s profitability. One study from Gallup found that companies with highly engaged employees can see 21% higher profitability. Other benefits include the reduced cost of high turnover, better customer service and loyalty and reduced risk from safety incidents.

The piece went on to place emphasis on listening to employee needs, embracing hybrid work models, setting expectations for managers, prioritizing work-life balance, and providing career mobility. It’s refreshing to see that C-suite executives are seeing the value in uplifting their employees and reaping the benefits of a happy workplace. It’s a pretty simple formula — keep your employees happy, and business is more likely to boom.

4. How about some good news?

Have a great weekend, comms all-stars!

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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