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Microsoft identifies top workplace trends in latest report

By Catherine Knowles
Thu 31 Mar 2022

When it comes to work, Kiwis place an especially high value on relationships and results over hours worked, according to the latest Microsoft Work Trend Index Report.

Titled ‘Great Expectations: Making Hybrid Work Work’, the report uncovers five key trends for business leaders. It highlights that in New Zealand employees may be experiencing a rethink on what work practices are considered productive, with 71% wanting to be rewarded for the impact of the work they do rather than how many hours they rack up.

Survey respondents identified meeting business objectives, positive client feedback and achieving individual goals as the most important KPIs to hit. In response, 32% of New Zealand employers are rethinking how to measure productivity within the next year.

Microsoft NZ modern work and security business group lead Robert Havranek says, "By embracing modern ways of working beyond simply measuring time spent in the office, Kiwi businesses have an opportunity to really make hybrid-work work.

"With the new tools and technologies available, we’re better able to measure the elements of work that can help local businesses unlock greater productivity, innovation and prosperity.”

However, while employees want hybrid work, the report also found that one in three Kiwi employers will require their team to go back into the office full-time in the next 12 months.

The report has also identified the power of networking in driving productivity. Globally, employees with thriving work relationships report their productivity is 50% higher than those with poor relationships.

Furthermore, around half of New Zealand employees overall feel they have good work relationships, despite long lockdowns and most of the country working, at least partially, remotely for the last two years.

Employees have realised that collaboration is key to achieving business success, whereas admin-heavy tasks such as emailing are a visual display of 'busy-ness'.

They are now placing more value on internal networking opportunities such as project collaboration and training sessions. On top of this, 45% of global employees report they wanted to spend more time networking than on admin tasks and 33% want to create more of an impact through mentoring colleagues.

Despite this, just 30% of managers worldwide agreed that networking-related activities drive business impact. This divide in opinion could spell challenges down the line, as workers increasingly seek employment that aligns with their values and enables them to make a difference.

In the era of the Great Resignation, its therefore even more important that businesses seeking to create a strong employer brand and retain staff focus on the impact of peoples work rather than the ways it gets done, and empower them to spend time on building relationships.

Constance Noonan Hadley, an organisational psychologist who studies workplace relationships, says, “When work-life balance is out of whack, most people cut out relationship-building for more urgent matters. Regardless of remote status, building relationships will still feel like a luxury workers cannot afford unless there is a shift in how time is prioritised and valued by managers.”

Networking will look quite different in this new era, with employees increasingly choosing to work from home. Leaders will need to think bigger when it comes to organising events that facilitate connection, regardless of physical location, the researchers state.

Microsoft Research principal researcher Nancy Baym says, "Social capital has to do with the resources and opportunities you have access to because of who you know. When people trust one another and have that kind of capital, you get a willingness to take risks, you get more innovation and creativity and less groupthink."

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