By: Liz Fealy, EY Global People Advisory Services Deputy Leader and Workforce Advisory Leader
As lockdowns are lifting in many regions of the world, millions of employees deemed essential continue to work as usual while other segments are returning to the physical workplace for the first time after several months of either working from home or being furloughed. Many companies have extended flexible working with regard to when and where employees work in order to maintain social distancing in workplaces as well as to provide alternatives given that not all schools and childcare have opened. Companies also realize that now that many employees have experienced reduced commuting times and have maintained productivity, some prefer to continue working remotely. This has necessitated completely new methods of working, collaboration and effective leadership. It’s been a massive challenge for employers and a big shift for employees.
The EY team surveyed over 4,000 employers and employees in June and July 2020 to see how these impacts are affecting the rollout of the future of work. The survey results showed strong alignments between the experiences and priorities of companies and their workforces, but also some key disconnects.
Both employees (84%) and employers (79%) identify the adoption of digital workplace tools as critical to the future work experience. They also agree that health and safety in the workplace are new priorities: employees rank this as a top five concern, and 86% of employers plan to enhance workplace safety. Employees rank online or virtual learning as their top learning and development focus, and almost two-thirds (64%) of employers are looking to strengthen virtual learning.
However, the survey responses reveal that employers and employees are not aligned in all areas. Perhaps predictably, while almost 4 in 10 (38%) employees want to see bonuses for improved work efforts, 77% of employers think there will be moderate to extensive reductions to workplace costs. In business travel, employers see yet another opportunity to cut costs, with 74% planning to limit most types of company travel, while 76% of employees would like to continue traveling for business.
Despite the areas of disconnect, 86% of respondents to an EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey currently rate their job satisfaction as 6 or above on a scale of 1-10. 48% of employees also believe their company culture has improved during the pandemic.
Amid the data analysis, one finding stands out as a potential red flag to employers that they should not ignore. While 9 in 10 employers say they put humans at the center of long-term plans for value creation, fewer than 7 in 10 (69%) of employees believe them. The EY team has emphasized that the future of work, while enabled by transformative digital tools, must put humans at the center, including well-being, diversity and culture. Employers need to not only put talent at the core of their strategy but also to demonstrate that commitment to their workforce with authenticity — and reimagine what the new workplace will look like for their organization.
Register today to join EY for a webcast on May 19. You’ll hear more findings from our 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Study as well as stories from four organizations who are reimagining how and where work gets done.