B2B Suppliers Must Embrace Ongoing Change to Retain Top Talent

The Big Tech workplace landscape is shifting as pandemic restrictions are lifted. Employers are trying to decide where they fall on the remote and in-person work spectrum. Employees have transformed their lifestyle to meet remote work needs, with some having to balance taking care of family and loved ones, and others finding more productivity without the hassles of a daily commute. A recent study found that 52% of workers are actively seeking new work, up from 35% in the last year, signaling that changes are coming whether B2B businesses are ready for them or not. The bottom line is that B2B Suppliers need to recognize the changes in their employees’ work lives, which will translate to greater employee engagement and a greater retention of their top talent. 

 

The State of B2B Employment

Tech giants like Apple and Facebook have different views on remote work. Apple is urging employees to return from remote work to a hybrid schedule; CEO Tim Cook expects employees to be in the office 3 times per week, citing the importance of in-person collaboration in maintaining company culture, engagement, and collaboration. Employees do not think this schedule is flexible enough to accommodate their new work life balance. The pandemic has empowered employees to have more say in their work schedules because they had to adapt to a whole new way of working, proving that “work from anywhere” can be productive and effective. Going back to “normal” is not an immediate – or appealing – option. 

Facebook’s policy allows workers to work remotely for the foreseeable future, noting that this is a request that must be approved depending on your  job role. Mark Zuckerberg has been quoted as saying that he is “happier and more productive at work” when he’s able to work remotely. So far, Facebook has approved about 90% of their requests for remote work. The differences in the directions taken by these companies shows that there is no clear path post pandemic. Businesses are focused on being as productive as possible, starting with where they believe their employees get the most work done. 

 

Workplace Accommodations

B2B employee policies vary per business, since they have different goals, headcount, and locations. What will not vary is the need to reassess how work will remain effective moving forward. Taking a look at current employees’ needs is crucial to going in the right direction. If you’re unsure where to start, surveys and interviews are effective tools to amplify employee voices. 

One major complaint from employees at Apple was a lack of communication between the top executives and their employees. But when executed effectively, communication leads to greater personal investment in the company – leading to increased productivity and longer tenure. But employees are looking for more than a 9-to-5 after COVID. The Harvard Business Review found 90% of people would be willing to earn 23% less money to do work they believe has meaning. Employees need to feel invested in meaningful work to remain connected, no matter where they work. 

 

The 2021 B2B Buyer Report: What B2B Employees Want

Since employees shifted fully online, coming back to work at full capacity may be challenging for B2B businesses. To better understand the needs of B2B employees, Avionos conducted our fourth annual B2B Buyer Report, surveying 150 B2B buyers on digital transformation and the future of work.

Flexibility for remote work is an accommodation employers need to offer to retain top talent.  27% of those surveyed say flexibility to work remotely as needed is important once they make the return to their office. Despite the challenges that hybrid work may present to B2B businesses, buyers are optimistic that their organizations will rise to the challenge. Buyers have witnessed dramatic transformation over the course of the pandemic. From working fully remote for the first time, engaging with transformed digital marketplaces, and migrating from desks to laptops, businesses understand that they need to remain flexible and agile. That is why 77% of buyers believe their organization will rise to the challenges that the changing landscape presents. 

Buyers anticipate new budgeting changes as well. More than half of buyers expect a budget to invest in new technology to remain a priority, long after the pandemic has passed. The pandemic was temporary, but the changes and standards that employees have been presented with are here to stay for the foreseeable future. 

 

Obstacles to Change

When management teams look at the changes in their workplace and budget, they need to realize that change begins from the top and funnels its way down. What employees demand may be different from the vision of the leaders. Lack of leadership buy-in and lack of peer buy-in are major obstacles to change according to the B2B report. In fact, 20% of employees and 19% of buyers do not think ongoing change is important. While this number is small, it is not insignificant, and resistance to change can make workplace  and digital transformation difficult. If they are not open to change, they will not be ready for unforeseen events like the pandemic. They may disagree on how to improvise and adapt if they are not open to change. If you (as a leader or employee) don’t want change, then you don’t want to hear the conversations that might save your business or make your business more competitive.

Change is never easy. After over a year of adapting, reevaluating, and making different plans, everyone is feeling fatigued. Some businesses are accepting that employees should have a greater say in where they believe they are most productive. Other businesses are making the decisions for what they believe is best for the employees. In order to retain top talent, it is crucial that B2B Businesses make their employees’ opinions heard. Checking in on how they are doing will greatly affect their personal ties to the company culture. Change without any consultations will turn away potential talent because it can create an oppressive culture that everyone is working for, rather than alongside each other. 

Listen to your employees to make informed decisions. Top talent will recognize voices being heard, and you’ll build trust by proving that your business cares about its people. 

It’s time to stop making excuses. Don’t miss out on your chance to learn about the latest B2B trends. Learn more in our annual 2021 B2B report here.

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