The Relationship Between Employers and Employees is Overdue for a Change — Here’s What to Expect

Photo by ahmad gunnaivi on Unsplash

We’re on the edge of a massive transformation. Businesses around the world are working harder than ever to measure employee productivity. This fact will change the daily lives of employees and employers forever.

Tomorrow’s work environment will look significantly different from today’s. The definition of employment will change, while productive employees will make significantly more money. Companies will continuously top-grade their workforce based on productivity metrics in order to achieve their aggressive business goals.

This means the employers who have historically denied interest in monitoring employee work behavior will have to change their positions. All employers who care about profitability monitor worker productivity. Let’s be honest — historically, this has often been through covert means: mining corporate network usage data and inspecting virtual desktop usage data or VPN traffic data. But in the coming years, employers will come forward and say “yes we are tracking your business behavior and are expecting you to behave in certain ways, compliant with our standards.” This transition isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s increasing accountability and transparency between employers and employees.

In the next 5 years, employees will need to face a handful of major changes:

  1. Shorter on-boarding and orientation times. Employers will expect to see hands-on performance starting from day 1. Employers know the fact that employee attention span is getting shorter. School format on-boarding and orientation will be history.
  2. Less education, smaller (maybe no) perks — with these resources being reallocated towards much needed high-quality talent. Pioneers of “the future of work” subject have already begun discussing this. “Once you examine these [perks], they look a little less like benefits and more like hooks,” says Jason Fried’s co-author, David Heinemeier Hansson. “It’s not that ping-pong tables aren’t nice in an abstract way, but they can also wreak havoc on everyone else in the office’s ability to get things done.” 
    From the book, It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work
  3. Pay rates tied directly to the business value added. High performers will be rewarded with higher compensation.
  4. Anyone looking for a job in the next 5–10 years should get ready for a rigorous testing process. There’s great research here on top-grading by Michael S. Lorence of Georgia State University
  5. Remote work will become the norm, with companies expecting employees to have self-discipline and time management skills by default. Employees who don’t have these skills will be alienated and off-boarded. Today, it’s a scientific fact that remote workers are more productive. The only downside is that they are more likely to quit and feel disengaged. Employers who can connect these two dots using technology (e.g. WorkSmart, Time Doctor) will grow faster than others.
  6. Less visible “we’re a family” messaging and activities by the employers. Let’s face it, we’re not. And it’s OK. The professional relationship between employers and employees will be drawn with thicker lines.
  7. Data-driven competition is here, and your new competitors are not only from your town or country. Are you ready to compete with the best talent from Brazil, Russia, Romania or Turkey? Employers are gaining more and more access to these talent pools as you are reading this post. Employee relocation is getting expensive and not as productive as expected, and employers are discovering the fact that the talent has no zip code. Bottom line, experimenting and learning new technologies on your own is not “nice to have” anymore.
  8. While personal relationships still matter, it simply won’t be enough to keep you employed. It may be useful to get promoted if you have supportive metrics in hand, but career growth will be determined by performance and attitude. Here’s a great post which argues that you need to learn how to self-start and take responsibility.
  9. Life will get even harder for junior level employees, Impressive academic pedigrees will have less weight when not backed up by strong performance. A junior employee’s professional growth will gain more weight, and employers will increasingly ask for portfolios, experiments, projects, and entrepreneurship experience as evaluation criterion for hiring and promotion.
  10. There will be ideal behavioral patterns for each job function. In-team competition will get even spicier because data will let employers define the ideal time management practices and actions. Employers will spend a decent amount of time developing or adopting technologies to discover ideal behavioral patterns of both remote and on-site employees and this will form their baseline expectations from you. It may sound creepy today but it won’t be in the next 5 years. Imagine all the data — keyboard strokes, mouse clicks, pages visited, apps used, and business value generated — combined and properly analyzed.

Employers are also going to have to face a handful of realities in the next 5 years:

  1. Lower employee loyalty, especially from top-performing professionals. If you have a good software developer friend, just ask him… Strong developers often receive multiple job offers every week.
  2. Higher headcount costs for top performing professionals, probably way higher than average salaries of today.
  3. Need for a corporate transformation enabling true remote working. I’m not talking about “1 day per week” type of remote working. An exec friend of mine from HP told me once, “we’re allowing one-day of working-from-home every week for all the employees but we know most of them are taking it as a day off”. Employers will need to embrace tools enabling monitoring, collaboration, communication for remote working. Competitive businesses will accommodate worldwide talent and will no longer be constrained by geography.
  4. Higher recruiting and testing costs. While aggressive businesses are starving for more productivity from their workforce, attracting and testing “above average” professionals will get harder. Cost per hire for a senior IT professional will go over $10K for most of the companies.
  5. Inevitably questioning office costs and ancillary perks due to high headcount costs.
  6. Need for hiring data savvy HR professionals who are capable of discovering ideal behavioral patterns which optimize the measurable business outcome for any business function (from Finance to Engineering, Support, and Sales).

About the writer: A seasoned digital marketing executive working for Crossover since 2015. Enjoys reading and writing on remote talent management, growth hacking, and the future of work.

Special thanks to Heather Aholt for editorial support. This post is brought to you by Crossover. Feel free to browse and apply for our open positions here.