ADP Research Institute's "People at Work 2024: A Global Workforce View": Workers Recalibrated Expectations Amid the Great Transition


Nearly 35,000 workers across the globe reveal their expectations around pay, skill development, and AI as the world of work enters a new era. 

ROSELAND, N.J., June 3, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- The post-pandemic era of work is being shaped by technological advances, economic forces, and shifting demographics. Building on survey responses from nearly 35,000 workers in 18 countries, the ADP Research Institute's fourth annual "People at Work 2024: A Global Workforce View" captures how worker expectations are changing. 

The great transition

This year will mark an important transition from a troubled, pandemic-driven economy to a new, post-pandemic world. In this new version of work, the pandemic imprint lingers, but technological advances, changing demographics and shifting workplace norms will drive seismic change.

Global inflation has reset worker expectations on pay, demographic shifts have crowded five generations into the workplace, and pioneering innovation in artificial intelligence has created uncertainty.

Employers seeking to navigate this labor market in transition will need a keen awareness of workforce sentiment. Companies that communicate clearly, calibrate worker expectations, nurture trust, and invest in skill development can stay ahead of what's to come

"The pandemic left a permanent imprint on the world of work, forcing change big and small on long-standing practices. Now comes a new wave of challenges, with demographic shifts and new technologies reshaping work in real time," ADP chief economist Nela Richardson said. "While global employment has stabilized, worker sentiment continues to shift in this fast-moving environment."

People at Work 2024: A Global Workforce View

Among the takeaways from this year's report:

Cost-of-l­iving increases influence expectations for pay: One of the challenges of highly inflationary time periods is the impact cost-of-living increases have on how people think about future price increases and their wage expectations. 

After a global bout of surging inflation, an elevated cost of living has reset worker expectations on pay. The data show workers in countries with a high rate of inflation have greater expectations for pay increases. But if the past is any measure, people may be disappointed as survey respondents in every country overestimated their pay gains last year.

"While global inflation has lessened considerably over the past three years, people still haven't fully adjusted their pay expectations to reflect this decrease," Richardson said. "For that reason, some workers might still expect higher pay than is warranted by current economic or business fundamentals."

  • The biggest mismatch in pay expectations globally was found in Latin America. There was a 6 percent gap between worker pay expectations and pay increases in Brazil. In Chile, the gap was 5 percent.
  • Seventy-seven percent of workers expect a pay increase in the next 12 months, 20 percent expect no change, and 3 percent anticipate a pay cut.
  • Employers need to manage changing, and sometimes lofty, worker expectations. The report advises employers to adopt transparent communication and fully explain corporate initiatives and their impact on the issues workers care most about, including salary, worker flexibility, career progression, and training opportunities.

A multigenerational workforce: The world's older workers are moving into retirement and soon will be replaced by a new generation. People born in the late 1980s and early 1990s are moving up the management ladder, and those born around the turn of the century are entering the job market. Employers will need to address the differing priorities of a workforce with wide-ranging ages. Balancing company initiatives to support multiple generations will be key to fostering a positive work environment.

  • As adults aged 25 to 34 settle into the workforce and begin to advance in their careers, they're less likely than any other group to make day-to-day enjoyment of their jobs a top priority (26%).
  • Workers 55 and older prioritize autonomy over their time more than their younger counterparts. 31% of workers 55 and older rank flexibility of hours among their top priorities, compared to 24% of workers aged 18 to 24.
  • One of the biggest changes to the global workplace has been the widespread adoption of flexible work arrangements. Embracing this change, 17% of adults 18 to 24 value the freedom to choose where they work, compared to 13% of workers 55 and older.
  • As workers age, they place more importance on salary. Most workers 45 to 54 rank salary as a top priority (62%). Pay is prioritized by 56% of workers aged 25 to 34, and only 44% of workers aged 18 to 24.

AI's relationship to job skills: Workers are keeping a close eye on the skills they'll need for the future, and their confidence in this regard is tied to their relationship with AI. For employers looking to integrate AI, building employee trust and investing in skills development will be crucial. AI training and building AI capabilities into workflows to drive efficiencies for employees will be top strategic priorities.

  • Almost half of workers surveyed agree that skill sets of the future will include technological abilities that aren't imperative in their current job.
  • Among workers who expect to be helped by AI, 70% are confident they have the skills they need to advance in the next three years. Workers who most fear AI have the least confidence (45%) that they have the skills they'll need.
  • Most workers (53%) lack confidence that their employer is investing in their skill development.
  • Among workers who feel strongly about AI, more than half say their employer is investing in the skills training they need. As workers grow less confident in their employers' willingness or ability to invest in them, their concern about AI impacting their jobs grows.

Stress is on a downward trend: Stress affects mental health, job performance, and employee satisfaction. With the pandemic in the rearview mirror, the percentage of employees facing daily stress continues to decline, but employers should continue to prioritize mitigating employee stress in the workplace.

  • The share of workers who say they experience stress every day has fallen from 19% in 2021 to 16% in 2022 to 15% in 2023.
  • 32% of employees said they feel moderate stress, or stress multiple times a week, down from 34% in 2022. 52% of employees feel low stress, or experience stress once a week or less, up from 50% in 2022.
  • No country is immune from stress, however a large share of workers in North America—1 in 5—report a high incidence of on-the-job stress, a trend driven by the United States.
  • Only 21% of people feel their employer is fully supporting their mental wellbeing.
  • Employees around the world who feel supported by managers and colleagues are less likely to be in the high-stress category. Workers in the low-stress grouping say they're more likely to engage in team-building activities, take days off, and have regular check-ins with their managers.

"This continuous evolution of work is both a challenge and an opportunity. It requires companies to be tuned in to how their workforce is adapting and feeling," Richardson said. "If companies keep worker sentiment in mind, change can be an opportunity for growth."

For additional findings and context on the global worker perspective, see the ADP Research Institute's "People at Work 2024: A Global Workforce View" and its regional breakouts at

About the ADP Research Institute

The ADP Research Institute delivers data-driven discoveries about the world of work and derives reliable economic indicators from these insights. We offer these findings as a unique contribution to making the world of work better and more productive by delivering actionable insights to the economy at large.


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