The Future of Work, as Seen by 52,000 People
Somewhere, amidst all the confusion and uncertainty of the pandemic, a power shift occurred. Workers, who for years felt relatively toothless in negotiating with their employers, found a new source of strength. That has given rise to the Great Resignation, where employees are leaving positions in search of jobs that are more fulfilling and lucrative.
Bad news for employers: That’s not going to end anytime soon.
A recent PwC survey spoke with over 52,000 people globally to get a sense of their thoughts in 2022. And among the many findings, the job wanderlust of the past year is still going strong, with one-in-five workers saying they're likely to switch to a new employer in the next 12 months.
Those who are planning to stay? They’re feeling confident enough to demand a higher salary, with 35% planning to ask for a raise in the next year.
“Workers who feel empowered by their current circumstances—i.e., those with specialized or scarce skills—are ready to test the market,” the company said in the 2022 Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey. “Retaining these employees will require more than just pay; fulfilling work and the opportunity to be one’s authentic self at work also matter to employees who are considering a job change.”
Workers know they’re in demand. And many recognize they have skills that are scarce today, giving them more clout with current and potential employers. That’s also giving them confidence to look around to see if there’s something better suited for them.
Salary is the chief driver of workers seeking other jobs, with nearly 75% of respondents citing that as a factor. Nearly as many (69%) say they’re looking for something more fulfilling and two-thirds say they want to truly be themselves at work.
A hybrid work environment is also increasingly important to workers. And for those whom this is not an option (which made up 45% of the people surveyed), job satisfaction is markedly lower than those who can, coming in at 50% satisfied vs. 63% among hybrid workers.
Employers who are flexible with work environments will resonate more with their workforce. Some 62% of respondents said they prefer a mix of in-person and remote work, with 63% expecting their company to offer that within the next year.
Ratios of work vs office time will vary by company, of course, but companies, PwC says, will need to experiment and adapt and find what works best for them and their employees to drive retention. They’ll also need to invest in the right technology to make remote work seamless. And they’ll have to put policies in place to avoid “proximity bias,” a deliberate or accidental favoritism to workers who are on-site more often when it comes to promotions and salary bumps.
The final polarizing issue of today’s workforce is the ongoing gender gap. Women were less likely than men to say they were fairly financially rewarded, but they also were less likely to ask for a raise.
Just last year, the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap Report found that the pandemic could extend the time it takes to bridge the gender gap by an entire generation, adding 36 years to the time it will take to achieve gender parity. (There was some good news, though, as earlier this year, Pew Research Center analysis found in certain pockets, the gap is starting to close. And in a handful of select cases, women are actually making more.
The PwC report noted that the wide scope of the survey made it important for companies to gather data on their own employees, but emphasized most organizations will need to realign their plans to create the best place for their workers—and one where employees won’t feel the urge to leave.
“As companies take on ambitious business and societal goals, leaders must remember that employees can be a force multiplier or a detractor,” the report says. “PwC research has found that the workforce is the number one risk to growth—and also the principal means by which companies can execute growth-driven strategies. Understanding workplace power in all its aspects can help leaders energize their workforce, tap into the power of their people and accomplish bolder goals.”
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