Employee – Employer relationship: Moving Forward by Antrea Fotiou


Antrea Fotiou
HR Advisor
K.Treppides & Co Ltd

Covid-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation era, Russia – Ukraine war, Inflation: Resiliency. What seems to have been greatly affected by the above, having gone through trials and turbulences during the last 2 plus years, is the Employee – Employer relationship. What is certain, is that the future is uncertain, and with it, thriving under it depends on where and in which form this relationship will go moving forward.

The Covid-19 pandemic tested the relationship for both employees and employers. Employees had to trust that their employer’s priority was their health & safety, and employers had to trust that by assigning priority to their employees’ health & safety, the latter wouldn’t take advantage of the long-distance relationship that had begun (out of necessity one may say) forming (remote work). Key word: Trust.

The remote work arrangement, although it was not an unknown concept, it would have taken years to organically emerge into our lives if the pandemic had not happened. Instead, the organizations were called to immediate implement their plans irrespective if those plans were already in the pipeline. Thus, the whole conceptual idea of the evolution of new implementations and new work style were developed over a period of a few weeks, months at best.

There have been numerous cases where this work arrangement, yielded positive effects, with many in the workforce showing remarkable resiliency and adaptability, as well as increased efficiency and productivity. On the contrary though, there have been cases in the workforce, where this proved to be counterproductive. Therefore, an enforced change is not always the way to go, and a well-planned strategy is always needed for changes of this magnitude.

A moment in history was when we found ourselves reconsidering everything. From where we work, to how we work and why we work. The Great Resignation era. This led to a chain reaction where employees were controlling the market and employers had to urgently adapt – and they did. Organizations adapted their processes as well as compensation packages to mirror the needs of available (and on occasion not available) talent.

A hot topic of conversation in the HR arena currently, is the rescinding of offers from giant Tech companies (see link: Fortune; Companies rescind job offers). Tech companies were over-recruiting in 2019 as a rapid expansion of the Tech industry was being observed worldwide. In 2022, as the economy faces great obstacles to overcome, so does the Tech Industry.

One can say that a common attributing factor to all the above is the speed to reaction instead of a gradual, well-thought, well-organized and well-planned strategy to change. All the above are what caused the significant turbulence in the relationship between employee and employer; a relationship which is ever so changing since the industrial revolution.

But where will this change take us next?

There are multiple scenarios, depending on the changes on variables affecting, such as economic growth, force majeures or even social divides which will affect different groups’ level and access to education, health and wealth, talent supply and ability of organizations to adapt to (as well as welcome) change.

A possible scenario, and a scenario where it is being observed, would be that both employees and employers demonstrate a fair amount of trust to each other, allowing flexibility for both parties to evolve, in a more realistic approach where the relationship is understood to be a transactional one. Employees provide their skills and valuable time and employers “reward” accordingly. That may mean though that the relationship, as a fully transactional one, will enforce the idea that it is just a job and, meaning is to be found outside of work. As a result, there will be little to no employee loyalty and organizations will rely heavily on outsourced services providers. By having such an approach to the relationship between the two parties, employers will feel obliged to adapt based on the needs of the employees, without a sustainable workforce strategy and/or employees will become even more competitive with each other as they would be competing for the next big opportunity.

A scenario such as this can assist employees fulfill needs that might have been shifted since the dawn of Covid-19 pandemic allowing them the time and flexibility to pursue other interests and create a great distance between their work and life. Working hours that fit their schedule as well as only working remotely would be a given. Additionally, this will also benefit organizations with a decrease in operational costs.

As a counterargument of this scenario though, would be that employers would not aim to build connections and relationships with employees or even offer a work with purpose (although not necessarily) and it is a scenario that early stages of development have already been noticed, for example, employees are spending fewer hours at work. Organizations in the future will need workforce strategies that will be more customized to individual needs.

What we are experiencing is a shifting point in time where uncertainty is the constant variable. As such, it is hard to fully understand where this relationship is going but scenarios can provide a glimpse of how and what the future entails. Easy adaptation and a positive approach to change from both parties involved can benefit both and ease our way to the future.

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24 August 2022
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