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The Great Work “Re-Evaluation” Has Begun. Canadians Want Flexibility in their Jobs

Across the world, organizations large and small are shifting the fundamentals of how they work. Remote work has a definitive foothold on almost every office-going industry. So much so, that high profile execs are making waves by saying ‘no thanks’ when their work-from-home freedoms are curtailed. One-third of Canadians polled by Ipsos said they would even leave their job if forced to go back to an office only work engagement.

On the heels of a national ServiceNow study that show employees are in the driver seat expectations are evolving and becoming more demanding it’s an interesting time for work/life balance. But businesses still need to function at peak efficiency, even more so when the C-suite might be showing up to the Teams Chat in bicycle shorts.

While many companies are indeed willing to adjust to this new reality, owners and managers are often still caught ‘reacting’ to the changes, rather than taking full advantage of them.

The opportunity, however, is crystal clear. For employees that have transitioned to a remote lifestyle, reports across the board are showing greater satisfaction, a reduction of menial tasks (including commuting, naturally) and a sense of more agency in the work they do and their contributions to the team.

Despite this, so many processes associated with office life have traditionally been on auto-pilot, particularly when it comes to onboarding, training and team-building. Managers and HR departments can’t be blamed for assuming that a return to established protocols would be the best path forward.

The thing is, even for the most process-oriented offices, the pandemic cut deep into these assumptions, and corporate staff from top to bottom are taking the opportunity to distill their processes right down to the most effective elements — and discovering new tools to help them do it.

Operational efficiency has been strengthened by move to remote work

While a cottage industry of remote work technologies has blossomed in the past two years, some established players have proven that their existing dedication to operational efficiency has only been strengthened by the opportunities a move to remote work has brought.

Perhaps there is no better example of this dedication than ServiceNow. The company empowers customers with a cloud‑based platform to help digitize and unify organizations so that they can find smarter, faster, better ways to make work flow. The goal is to digitally transform the work they do, connecting people, systems, and processes to create new and agile experiences. 

In the autumn of 2003 Fred Luddy knew that he had to start a company before he turned 50, because he thought a 50-year-old “can’t start a company”. So, at the age of 49 on November 24th (Luddy’s Birthday) he began the company with a single laptop at a desk in his house. ServiceNow would carve a path to IT Service Management, we call it workflows today. He developed a platform with a single data model, single workflow engine which would sit above all the siloes in an organization. Business processes were largely siloed into multiple areas like data, applications, and people where large enterprise replicates work many, many times so the company’s goal would be to streamline these flows.

Fourteen years ago, Luddy was pretty much broke, having seen a $35 million personal fortune vanish overnight in the midst of accounting fraud at his previous company. Thirteen years ago he was a one-man shop, tinkering with ServiceNow’s core product from his home.

ServiceNow’s Canadian operations take leadership of automating and onboarding recruits

We sat down with Marc LeCuyer, the Vice President of ServiceNow’s Canadian operations to discuss a survey they spearheaded on the changing face of work in Canada. ServiceNow commissioned the study to hone in on these new realities of work-life balance. In the new world of work in Canada, the job perks that office employees once valued have changed. Traditional, pre-COVID workplace policies and compensation are not enough to attract and retain talent. This is forcing employers to quickly reassess the employee experience within their companies.

“The employee experience has become the new currency in the search for talent, and it’s critical that companies remain competitive. Experiences are shaped by the type of work employees do every day. Having work that feels impactful or important, and where you feel you’re contributing to a larger goal or purpose, are key to building great experiences at work.”

Marc LeCuyer, Vice President and General Manager, ServiceNow Canada.

The Great Re-Evaluation Has Begun

Employee experience matters more than ever. Cash is no longer king because in the battle for talent, high salaries do not trump tedious work. In the study it was noted that 71% of Canadian office workers would never take a frustrating or unrewarding job. Even for higher pay.

Many Canadians want to continue working from home and are even willing to change jobs to find an employer that would let them, a new Ipsos poll has found. 

“The pandemic has had a profound impact on the workplace, and many Canadian workers don’t want to go back to the way it was before. This is one lasting change, lasting impact of the pandemic,” said Sean Simpson, senior vice-president of Ipsos.

Ipsos recently conducted another survey exclusively for Global News and found one in three (32 per cent) Canadians saying that they’d look for another job if their employer forced them to work exclusively at an office. This sentiment increased among those aged 18 to 34 (42 per cent) than those aged 35 to 54 (29 per cent) while only twenty two percent of Canadians 55 and over shared this sentiment.

Canadians also want purpose. “Canadian office workers want to know they are experiencing continuous personal and professional growth at work. They can’t do that while spending a third of their time on tasks that they’re uninspired to do”, said LeCuyer.

Flexibility is highly desired in Canadian Employment

In a time when people are rethinking what matters to them, there is an increasing trend to do work that is more meaningful and contributes to larger societal goals.

Adding to this, the pandemic has created many challenges that continue to be a problem two years later. These have translated into the top reasons Canadian office workers would consider leaving their job, including:

  • Increased burnout (32%);
  • Increased work hours (28%);
  • Difficulty unplugging (27%); and
  • Challenges communicating with colleagues (24%).

One of the most attractive thing an employer could offer Canadian office workers is flexibility in work hours. 48% of office employees say the freedom to work preferred hours would inspire them to move to a new organization. But…they also want to keep those hours reasonable.

The pandemic has created many workplace challenges that continue two years later.

Increased burnout (32%) and increased work hours (28%) are the top reasons office workers are leaving their current jobs. Employees demand that their employer let them unplug. Most recently in Ontario the government created laws around making this a necessity. At the time of bringing this law to bare, Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said, “We can’t be a province where people burn out from endless work and where family time comes last. The message to workers is you deserve a break. Everyone deserves to unplug at the end of their workday because people are more than their jobs.”

A large portion of Canadians (41%) say they still face difficulty unplugging is one of the top challenges of working remotely. This is one of the top reasons (27%) that Canadian office workers would leave their current job.

Most Canadians want their employers to invest more in solutions that reduce menial tasks.

Eighty percent of Canadian office workers polled see automation as the most beneficial application of AI at work, especially when used for IT services, computer backups, analytics and reporting, routine tasks, spreadsheet-based processes, and more. The good news is that change is at your fingertips.

In 2020 ServiceNow acquired Montreal Artificial Intelligence company Element AI

In 2020 ServiceNow made a strategic acquisition of Montreal Artificial Intelligence leader Element AI with the goal of establishing an AI Innovation Hub in Canada. The acquisition intended to “empower employees and customers to focus on areas where only humans excel – creative thinking, customer interactions, and unpredictable work.” For a company specializing in smart workflows, AI represents the ability to make the flows more nimble and more intelligent.

LeCuyer maintains that the company puts the human being at the center of ServiceNow’s brand. The belief being that that technology should be in the service for humans, not replace humans. The company has learned that there are some simple tasks that quite frankly, a human being shouldn’t be doing those tasks, nor does a human being want to do those tasks.

“Canadian office workers want to know they are experiencing continuous personal and professional growth at work. But they can’t do that if they’re spending a third of their time on tasks that they’re uninspired to do. Employers have to find ways to reduce the low value work. Using digital tools can fill the gap to make every day work simpler, easier and faster to free up time for employees to focus on the more essential and fulfilling aspects of their jobs – the work only humans can do.”

Marc LeCuyer, vice president and general manager, ServiceNow Canada

But LeCuyer also says that there is no world where machines are doing all the work of humans. Canadian office workers feel the benefits of artificial intelligence include the potential to help employees unplug. This is one of the most attractive things an employer could offer office workers in Canada. When surveyed the workforce saw AI benefitting to reduce stress (46%), free up time (33%), and ultimately reduce burnout.

Changing the Onboarding Experience

One of the challenges facing organizations is how to engage a new employee and proper planning and AI are creating a nice industry to ensure Canadian employers maximize the process of integrating new staff in a curriculum that is uniform and fun. The hiring process can be grueling but it’s only the beginning. ServiceNow has been reinventing the onboard for employees by creating a consumer app based experience.

Employee onboarding portals looks a lot like a consumer shopping experience

The first welcome email or text arrives and employees transition to an automated workflow program designed for onboarding. It may start with taking a selfie and uploading it to the system and then navigate the person to a checklist. A more modern consumer like gamified way of rolling into the role. That picture goes off to corporate security for your badge and triggers a link to pick a computer. The company opened up a portal that looks a lot like an Amazon shopping experience. Are you an Apple girl? Or do you like PCs? New hires navigate the experience to fit their needs in an interactive manner instead of a monolithic, stringent process. These small benefits help to create a stickiness that the employee is a part of their own journey and being setup to succeed in the way they feel most comfortable.

The training experience is setup to unify a team align process and goals uniformly. Rather than depending on other staff to train on menial, day to day processes the employee can independently learn about the job requirements and company processes and etiquette. This takes stress of both new hires and existing staff.

The Great Re-Evaluation

For the ServiceNow leader the headline “the great resignation” was a surprise.

“The pandemic has certainly forced everybody to reevaluate their personal lives. The great resignation has now become the great reevaluation in this context of this study. If you look across the major employers in Canada, across all industries, the banks, insurance, telcos etc. the job postings are not getting the activity that they’re looking for. The roles are staying open longer. And I think it is going to force them to really look at investing in modern technology or advanced technology to solve some those problems.”


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