Who will win the battle for the future of work?

The the biggest tug of war game in the world has been going on for more than two years and both sides show no signs of letting up.

On the one hand, employers, eager to satisfy their staff without too many adjustments. The preference for such a position revolves around a pre-pandemic workplace: five days a week in the office, for the same pay and mildly polite benefits.

On the other side are the employees, ready to officially defend their personal needs. Whether it’s a remote or flexible work schedule, the ability to work from anywhere, or access to mental health resources, the workforce has leaned into these questions.

As a result, the battle has led to a new set of workplace trends that are having a significant impact on the talent war. Employees participate in the Great Resignation, while labor organizations grow at a pace not seen in decades.

So who wins in the end?

The most likely scenario is that no one emerges as the ultimate champion. Other factors have emerged that complicate the fight for the future of work, such as global affairs, rising inflation and the risk of recession.

Neither employers nor employees can afford not to have work during this time. However, in recent months the balance may have tipped in favor of business leaders, as many face the result of overemployment in the first few months following mass vaccination.

For this reason, many are turning to hiring freezes and layoffs as a way to offset hiring spree expenses.

Although still unpredictable, employers could prevail if this trend continues. Yet workers in some industries also stand a chance of being victorious, especially knowledge workers and medical professionals.

“I think with the threat, or the reality, of a full-scale recession, the [power] the balance will balance out a bit more, but the most forward-thinking organizations understand that there will always be options for top talent and hard-to-fill roles,” said Elise Freedman, head of transformation practices workforce at the consulting firm Korn Ferry. “The push-and-pull is still going on.”


Maria D. Ervin