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Employees ‘struggle with hybrid colleagues’

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Home working suits many workers, but tensions are emerging

Hybrid working arrangements are creating tensions between managers and employees as they adapt to operating in dispersed teams. 

A survey of 2,000 workers and more than 500 employee relations directors highlighted a looming HR crisis with a third (35%) of employees “struggling to collaborate with colleagues in a hybrid environment”.

Results from the research by HR and talent solutions company LHH suggest that a majority (53%) of learning and development (L&D) leaders understand that managing teams remotely is a very different skillset to managing someone in person.

Disagreements over hybrid working arrangements, including who gets to work from home and why, could create serious challenges for HR and business leaders, says the study.

When asked what factors were most important in determining who should be able to work remotely, employees said that job role or department (73%) and a proven track record of being able to work from anywhere (73%) were the most important.

By contrast, the majority (68%) of L&D leaders believe that decisions about where employees work should be based on how each individual employee works best and two-thirds (63%) agreed that every employee should take a personality and working assessment test to ascertain how they perform best. 

Training overhaul required for managing hybrid teams

The research also found that action is needed to ensure all employees are equipped with the skills they need to work effectively in this environment. 

It uncovered a number of concerns from HR and L&D leaders about how to effectively train and upskill employees in hybrid workplaces, in addition to “red-flagging a potential HR crisis on the horizon with disputes over hybrid working arrangements in store”.

More than half (54%) of L&D leaders believe all managers need to get training on how to manage hybrid teams – a sentiment which is echoed by two in five (41%) UK employees. Despite the clear need for this training, results show over half (52%) of L&D budgets have seen no increase whatsoever since the start of the pandemic.

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More than a quarter (28%) of L&D leaders said that their budget for learning, training and development has actually decreased in the past 12 months, while just under a quarter (24%) said that their budget has stayed the same.

This lack of investment is concerning, say the researchers, particularly as a third (35%) of UK employees admitted that they were struggling to collaborate with colleagues in a hybrid environment.

“A similar number (31%) also claimed that, since returning to work after the pandemic, they have not been asked what training they need to progress and do not have any tangible work objectives to help them do so,” said the study.

“However, with warnings of an economic downturn looming large, providing employees with the training they need to develop and progress could be key to avoiding costly staff turnover.

“What’s more, with job vacancies outnumbering unemployment figures for the first time since records began, business leaders are under increasing pressure to invest in their workforce to boost retention.”

Burak Koyuncu, SVP learning and development, LHH UK & Ireland, said: “Leaders and managers are being asked to serve as mentors to the people they lead and the expectations they are facing are increasing.

“They must be adept at onboarding; emotionally intelligent enough to monitor physical and mental wellness; open and flexible enough to promote career development; creative enough to help build teams of people who are in the right job at the right time. Those are not easy asks, particularly in a hybrid environment where communication and collaboration is more challenging.

“Organisations must support leaders and managers to meet this rapidly escalating list of expectations. This means investing in the right training and learning and development programmes to ensure all employees can thrive, regardless of where or how they work.” 

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