The Workforce View 2020: Post- COVID-19
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The advent of COVID-19 represents an unprecedented global health emergency and a critical economic test. So far, in terms of its impact on the world of work, in some respects so much has changed, but in others, the trends and issues we were seeing before the pandemic spread remain consistent across the six countries that we selected to represent the four regions of Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and Latin America.
Worker sentiment about the general outlook for the workplace and the long-term prospects for jobs is holding up remarkably well, although there is an awareness that difficult decisions around pay may have to be made in the short term. The gig economy remains as attractive as before, but there are signs that contractors are more likely to expect and accept some tough choices. Unfortunately, there is still progress to be made to combat discrimination. However, the crisis could represent a new dawn for flexible working. It is a complex picture.
1. Positivity persists: Confidence has declined less than one might expect, with 84% of workers today still feeling optimistic about the next five years in the workplace (down from 86% pre-pandemic), and 75% who feel buoyant about the year ahead. Optimism among young people is highest of all.
2. Limited life expectancy for today’s jobs: More than one in five workers (22%) believe their job will not exist five years from today, rising to one in three (33%) in APAC. However, most (65%) are upbeat about the flexibility of opportunities they will have in the future, which is virtually unchanged since before the crisis hit.
3. Perceived discrimination remains prevalent: The overall proportion of workers who say they feel they have been discriminated against by their employer remains static at one in three. Incidences of perceived discrimination have inched upwards in APAC and North America since before COVID-19, while Europe has seen a slight decrease.
4. Flexible working on the rise: As remote working takes off, 44% of employers now have official flexible working policies in place, up from 24% pre-COVID-19. However, over half of respondents (54%) say they have felt pressure to come into work at some point during the pandemic.
5. Sacrifices on pay: The amount of unpaid overtime workers are doing has increased by an hour on average since COVID-19 hit. Almost two in five (38%) of workers would be prepared to take a pay cut if necessary to save jobs due to COVID-19 but one in three (32%) are resistant to any moves to cut pay or defer salaries, even if it ultimately means saving jobs.
6. Tough choices in the gig economy: Interest in gig work has not declined since the pandemic; in fact, it has seen a small increase. That said, gig workers are more prepared to take deeper pay cuts, defer salaries longer or even accept termination to save jobs during COVID-19 than regular workers. They are also likely to work more unpaid overtime or feel under pressure to come into work during lockdown.