Employee Mental Health Important in Decisions on Hybrid Work

A global survey of executives finds enterprise confidence in physical and digital workplace experience is higher than for employee experience


Global enterprise leaders are prioritizing employee mental health as they make decisions on extending or expanding hybrid work models, according to new survey research from Information Services Group (ISG) (Nasdaq: III), a leading global technology research and advisory firm.

The ISG survey of more than 200 global IT and enterprise executives found 81 percent rate mental health as a top employee concern and a key factor in their organization’s decisions around remote and flexible working.

Talent acquisition, employee retention, customer experience, employee productivity, internal collaboration and effective management were also mentioned by respondents as among the most important factors in enterprise work policies. Most respondents also said remote work has positively impacted the work-life balance their enterprise offers as well as their ability to attract talent.

“Employers are making decisions on whether and how to continue their flexible work arrangements based on the real or perceived impact on employee well-being,” said Iain Fisher, global Future of Work lead for ISG. “Hybrid schedules and employees who are empowered to choose where to work are now entrenched in workplace culture. The next challenge will be deploying enterprise technology capabilities that can keep pace by providing a seamless work experience from any location.”

The 2023 ISG Buyer Behavior Research – Future Workplace Study finds executives are confident their organization’s current approach to the digital and physical workplace experience will meet the needs of the organization over the next two years. Twenty-six percent of survey respondents said they are “extremely confident” their physical workplace is delivering a safe and collaborative work environment, and 24 percent are extremely confident their digital workplace is delivering the tools and technologies to enable hybrid and remote working. Executives are less confident, however, in their ability to enhance overall employee experience.

“The digital workplace is expected to deliver exponential improvements in employee experience, productivity and capabilities,” said Alex Bakker, director, ISG Research and author of the study. “Three-quarters – 76 percent – of our survey respondents said a remote or flexible work policy has already delivered a return on investment in terms of productivity, cost savings and employee and client satisfaction. But only 15 percent are extremely confident their current approach to employee experience will be adequate for the near future. Workplace services solutions will be needed to resolve that discrepancy.”

When it comes to employee experience, business leaders are under increasing pressure to foster a workplace culture that is attractive to new talent and current employees, especially Gen-Z employees, ISG says. According to the 2022 ISG Provider Lens™ Future of Work – Services and Solutions – Archetype Report, enterprises must “frame policies that consider socio-human factors” including what the organization stands for, its impact on larger society, and concerns about diversity, equity and inclusion and environmental impact.

“Our research underscores the degree to which workplace technology plays a key role in ensuring improved employee experience,” Bakker said. “While any technology that keeps employees productive supports the experience, multiple other factors such as employee well-being, empathy and employee association with their organization are also an integral part of experience.”

During the peak of the pandemic, about 70 percent of employees worked from home, the survey found, resulting in a “large, reactionary spend” in workplace technology, ISG said. Since then, about 50 percent of the enterprises surveyed by ISG have introduced a hybrid work policy, with nearly the same number (47 percent) reporting investing in increased cybersecurity to cover offsite workers. Forty-three percent of respondents invested in smart office infrastructure, 38 percent in applications and services that facilitate remote work and 38 percent in online training and development.

“Enterprises have the opportunity to renew and adapt their workplace services,” Bakker said. “To do that, organizations are prioritizing knowledge management tools, self-service portals and mobile devices to enhance the hybrid realm and support a distributed workforce.”

Over two-thirds of respondents consider mobile devices (69 percent), knowledge management tools (67 percent) and self-service portals (66 percent) as critical or very important to the workplace experience. Unified communications platforms such as Teams, Slack or RingCentral were cited as critical or very important by 64 percent of respondents, followed by collaboration and social platforms such as Yammer, at 57 percent.

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