A person working hybrid flexible from a couch.
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Organizations that adopt a human-centric work paradigm will see enhanced employee performance as well as greater retention and less fatigue, Gartner’s recent 2022 Future of Work Reinvented Implementation Survey finds.

SEE: 10 ways to avoid work-from-home burnout (TechRepublic)

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What is human-centric work?

A human-centric design prioritizes people at work and “doesn’t treat them as secondary components of the work environment’’ the study said. In fact, when human-centric work practices are implemented, employees are 3.8 times more likely to be high performers, 3.2 times more likely to stay and 3.1 times more likely to have low fatigue than when these practices are not implemented, Gartner said.

Most organizations now accept that the future of work will encompass a hybrid mix of remote and in-office work, according to Gartner. The firm said its survey sought views from 401 employees globally who all worked for organizations that have already implemented their work models in advance of the COVID-19 pandemic’s end.

SEE: The COVID-19 gender gap: Why women are leaving their jobs and how to get them back to work (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Gartner estimates that 15% to 20% of organizations have the three elements the firm has identified in its full human-centric work model: flexible work experiences, intentional collaboration and empathy-based management.

Keys to successful human-centric work models

Think broadly about what flexible work means

Executive leaders tend to think about flexible work in terms of location, the Gartner study said. Five work approaches were tested in the survey associated with location flexibility, and only “flexible hybrid” scored above average.

Focusing on location alone means they will miss larger benefits. Thinking instead about a human-centric work design “far outperforms even hybrid flexible designs in all three outcomes,’’ the study said.

Adopting a human-central work design model for many enterprises means they will need to adjust their current plans for a post-pandemic work strategy.

“Many leaders have strong views about their work designs or work for CEOs with passionate beliefs,’’ the study noted. “They will need compelling evidence before they adjust their strategies.”

Besides suggesting that human-centric work leads to better performance, the study also noted that a static approach is not the answer.

“Implementations that incorporate employees’ perspectives and continually adapt outperform top-down static approaches,” Gartner said.

Grant accountable autonomy

Gartner also recommends granting autonomy to people and teams to establish their own work conditions, but holding them accountable for results. Additionally, businesses may soon be tempted to mandate a return to the office.

“Some leaders will instinctively reassert themselves should business conditions worsen,’’ the report notes. “That would be a big mistake.”

Overall performance will greatly improve if employees are granted autonomy over how they do their work and achieve their outcomes, according to Gartner. Autonomy reduces worker fatigue by 1.9 times and makes people 2.3 times more likely to stay at their organization.

Plan deliberate collaboration

The most effective enterprises plan collaboration deliberately.

“Intentional enterprises encourage teams to plan a mix of synchronous and asynchronous collaboration that works best for the task at hand and the people executing it,’’ the report said.

This optimizes collective performance and innovation while also accommodating individual preferences, and such accommodations lead to people contributing their best work.

A focus on empathy-based management

How management approaches the human-centric work design must also be addressed.

“Poor managers are a leading cause of employee attrition,” the study said. “Employees want to know that they matter to the enterprise and feel trusted.”

Traditionally, leaders have managed people by relying on visibility or input, but this is difficult in a hybrid or remote workplace. The study found that organizations that ask managers to care for their workers’ well-being produce the best outcomes.

How to implement human-centric work practices

For leaders in charge of setting work and talent strategies, Gartner suggested that they:

  1. Design work models around the needs of individuals rather than expecting them to conform to legacy practices or locations that constrain them.
  2. Drive work outcomes by focusing on work flexible experiences, intentional collaboration and empathy-based management.
  3. Solicit employee input into the design, enable co-creation and engage workers in the rollout of human-centric work models.

Graham Waller, a distinguished vice president analyst at Gartner and a co-author of the report, told TechRepublic that often, leaders’ legacy mindsets are anchored in industrial-era assumptions about work. For example, they may believe people will be less productive in hybrid and flexible work models.

“However, when more flexible models are implemented following principles of human-centric work — including accountable autonomy — employees are 3.8x more likely to be high performing,’’ Waller said. “Human-centric work models foil flight and power performance.”

When implementing these work models, this TechRepublic Premium resource is one way to help you gauge their effectiveness: Employee Performance Review Policy.

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