8 minute read 1 Feb 2022
US technology, media and telecommunications employers are experiencing fast-changing employee expectations in a hybrid post-pandemic working world.
Why TMT companies face a higher risk of losing their best and brightest

Why TMT companies face a higher risk of losing their best and brightest

By Juliette Meunier

EY Americas Technology, Media & Entertainment and Telecommunications People Advisory Leader; Partner, Ernst & Young LLP

Innovative leader in human resources, helping to shape the ever-changing HR landscape. Passionate about the tech sector. Proud mother. Avid reader. Fitness lover. Wine enthusiast.

8 minute read 1 Feb 2022
Related topics TMT Workforce

US technology, media and telecommunications employers are experiencing fast-changing employee expectations in a hybrid post-pandemic working world.

 Two questions to ask

  • What does the latest EY research reveal about US employer and employee expectations in the changing world of work?
  • What are some EY TMT clients doing around culture, leadership and well-being in response to these shifting preferences?

Remember the office workplace before the pandemic? Employees would “work hard, play hard” and then chat face-to-face at the “water cooler,” whether literally or figuratively. Fast-forward to today: People work hard, usually at home – and then work even harder as virtual meetings stack up. The challenge for employers? Figuring out how to replicate the camaraderie and spontaneous conversations of the physical office and maintain engagement in a post-pandemic, hybrid working world.

These issues particularly resonate with technology, media and telecom (TMT) companies. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, TMT was already ahead of other sectors in remote and flexible working. But this “head start” is double-edged: while TMT companies are further along in adapting to the new world of work, TMT employees also likely have higher expectations of their employers in this area.

Taking the temperature on both sides

Recent EY research highlights these challenges. Two in-depth EY Work Reimagined surveys provide unique insights into the changing world of work – from the perspectives of both employees and employers. We first canvassed over 16,000 employees across 16 countries on their attitudes toward and experiences of working through the pandemic. Then we expanded the focus to employers, surveying more than 1,000 business leaders in nine countries on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their workplaces.

What did we find? The results exposed some significant gaps between employees’ expectations and employers’ actions to meet those expectations. For example, almost 9 in 10 employees globally want flexibility in where and when they work. But while most employers have made or intend to make significant hybrid work changes, only half of them have communicated the plans to their workforce. Put simply, employers need more time to validate that their decisions are right and sustainable for the business and their employees. Without this step, employers risk a potentially damaging disconnect with employees on issues such as flexibility, culture and productivity.

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Chapter 1

Drilling down into the TMT responses …

Here’s what US technology, media and telecom employees want, and what employers are doing in response.

When we zero in on the findings from TMT employers and employees in the US, things get even more interesting. Take employees’ readiness to join the “Great Resignation” if they don’t get the added flexibility they want. While 54% of all US employees are prepared to quit if their employer doesn’t provide flexibility, the US TMT-specific figure rises to 67%, suggesting TMT companies face a higher risk of losing talent. 

Work environment

85%

of US TMT employers are actively promoting hybrid work to retain and attract talent.

Collaborative tools

51%

of US TMT employers are planning to redesign their offices to enhance collaboration/networking.

On a positive note, TMT employers are responding proactively to their employees’ stronger attachment to a flexible working environment. For example, some 85% of US TMT employers are actively promoting hybrid work to retain and attract talent. And 51% are planning to redesign their offices to enhance collaboration/networking, while 72% intend to invest in better in-office technology. These moves by US TMT employers mirror their workers’ sentiments: 71% of US TMT employees want better in-office technology, and 44% would like enhanced collaboration spaces. 

It’s important for TMT companies to consider these findings, so they can better understand how to craft their work policies, focus their resources and enhance their real estate strategies. It’s interesting to note that the results from TMT companies and employees diverge widely from those for all industries in the US as a whole, underlining the fact that other industries aren’t currently experiencing quite as much pressure in these areas. Consider this striking statistic: Only 33% of non-TMT employees in the US are interested in better in-office technology. 

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Chapter 2

… reveals a big focus on the hybrid return to work and retention

Survey results reveal some interesting attitudes at US TMTs.

Looking more broadly across the US TMT responses, two areas stand out. The first is regarding companies’ approach to the return to work/hybrid balance. Of TMT employees in the US, 96% want flexibility – again well above the cross-industry average. Meanwhile, 90% of US TMT employers agree on the need to provide flexibility in the future, and only 35% want a full return to the office. The implication? That more TMT businesses are using hybrid approaches to accommodate employees’ expectations. That said, there’s still a communication issue: only 42% of US TMT employers have fully explained their flexible work plans to staff.

Retention

81%

of US TMT employers agree their company’s post-COVID-19 approach to flexible working will affect their ability to retain talent.

The other key area is retention. Some 81% of US TMT employers agree their company’s post-COVID-19 pandemic approach to flexible working will affect their ability to retain talent, and 67% of US TMT employees mirror that sentiment. The message? Rather than simply replacing departing employees with new ones, employers will focus on retention to reap benefits around knowledge consistency, morale and costs. This means employee engagement – pivotal to retention – will be a board-level topic and competitive differentiator: boards will likely pressure CEOs to address retention and employee engagement challenges in a meaningful and visible way. And employers should focus on  collecting feedback continually in listening sessions and use this to improve their employees’ experiences.

These findings indicate a relatively strong degree of alignment between US TMT employers and employees. However, our research also reveals some divergences, perhaps most notably around business travel. While 83% of TMT employees want to continue business travel post-pandemic, 49% of employers are expecting it to decrease. This suggests some turbulence ahead, as employees push for physical travel and employers push back against it for health, time, cost, and maybe environmental reasons.

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Chapter 3

Client conversations: redefining culture, leadership and well-being

What TMT contacts are saying about the changing employee expectations.

Overall, perhaps the pandemic’s biggest impact on work has been a dramatic global shift in organizational culture – and this is certainly an overarching theme across both the employer and employee findings. Interestingly, while 73% of US TMT employers think their company culture has improved during the pandemic, only 59% of employees agree. We’re finding that concerns around culture are springing up increasingly in everyday conversations our teams are having with TMT organizations. 

What are they saying? Essentially that they’re redefining culture in the hybrid era – seeking to create a unique differentiated employee experience while also helping to ensure that those in the office and those working remotely are on equal footing. As highlighted above, for many employees the days of “work hard, play hard” have shifted to “work hard, work harder.” Employers in TMT and elsewhere have seen that the pendulum has often swung too far

The result? Physical and mental well-being are becoming expected priorities driven by employers, not just employees or governments. To bring back the human connection that fosters well-being, companies should not only create engaging and meaningful environments where employees can thrive, but also apply technology to help them better engage and collaborate. These needs also affect leadership and the tone from the top: Rather than leaders encouraging in-office time without a clear purpose, they need to think differently about the office and adapt their leadership styles to the reimagined world of work. Our findings suggest that “traditional” leaders who believe that the best way to develop their teams is by being in the same physical location may lose their relevance – and ultimately may lose their best people.

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Chapter 4

Harnessing tech to power a collaborative future

Technology will be key on two fronts as the new world of work takes shape.

As the new world of work takes shape, technology will be key to both monitoring employee engagement, organizational networks and company culture in a hybrid model. It will also be critical to supporting environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) standards. With the power of tools for collaboration and almost two years of data under their belts, organizations can now see the previously invisible collaboration patterns – helping enable them to identify pockets of brilliance and pinpoint gaps to close. Going forward, intelligent technologies will be essential to effective and efficient ways of working – wherever the work actually takes place.

And the future of the office space? Here the intent of the physical location will be key. Legacy monolithic “offices” will likely be converted to event centers and collaboration spaces, while most solo offices will be “housed in the home.” It’s a future that our clients are well-placed to embrace – especially since the TMT industry (particularly tech) has more ability and experience in working remotely than other sectors. So, the main takeaway from our research? Work is changing forever, and US TMT is well-placed to change with it. But companies can’t afford to be complacent – and should continue putting their words into action. 

The views expressed by the authors are not necessarily those of Ernst & Young LLP or other members of the global EY organization.

Corporate Culture | EY - US

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Summary

As new ways of working unfold at US TMT companies, technology will be crucial to not only monitoring employee engagement and organizational culture but also to supporting ESG initiatives and DEI standards.

About this article

By Juliette Meunier

EY Americas Technology, Media & Entertainment and Telecommunications People Advisory Leader; Partner, Ernst & Young LLP

Innovative leader in human resources, helping to shape the ever-changing HR landscape. Passionate about the tech sector. Proud mother. Avid reader. Fitness lover. Wine enthusiast.

Related topics TMT Workforce