Worker optimism shaken during COVID-19 – but future outlook in Australia is positive: new data from ADP

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Optimism among workers in Australia has been shaken in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is confidence that the ‘new normal’ will result in positive changes to the working environment, reveals the ADP® Research Institute’s People at Work 2021: A Global Workforce View.

ADP’s report found that four out of five Australian workers feel optimistic about the next five years in the workplace.

The global survey of more than 32,000 workers in 17 countries explores whether the effects of the pandemic have impacted employees’ attitudes towards the current world of work and what they expect and hope for from the workplace of the future.

Australians also appear hopeful that COVID-19 will have a positive impact on key workplace factors.

Two in five Australian workers surveyed were extremely or very confident that they could find another job offering the same job satisfaction (42 per cent), better pay (40 per cent) or increased flexibility (39 per cent).

Peter Hadley, President – APAC at ADP, commented: “This new data from ADP tells us that Australians really felt the pressures falling out from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Although many people have been hard hit professionally, there’s a sense that what has been a dark could have a silver lining in various ways when it comes to the world of work. Particularly in terms of accelerating the shift towards flexible working patterns, with two in five Australians saying they believe COVID-19 has had a positive impact here.”

In the current landscape, the report indicates that while there is optimism for what the future holds, there remain high levels of unease, with almost three-quarters of workers (72 per cent) saying that during the pandemic they have had concerns over their financial or job security.

These fears are understandable, given that more than half (56 per cent) report having been impacted professionally in some way due to COVID-19. Of these changes, a quarter of respondents (25 per cent) either lost a job, were furloughed or were temporarily laid off by their employer. One in six took a pay cut (15 per cent), while almost one in five (18 per cent) reduced their hours or responsibilities.

“Understandably, job or financial security is front of mind for many, and these concerns unfortunately reflect reality. In a year when many businesses have had to shut temporarily or permanently, or significantly alter their operations, the effects of the disruption and uncertainty on the workforce have been profound,” said Hadley.

“The challenge now for employers and HR teams is to find ways to harness the positives while, as far as possible, alleviating the negatives to ensure that staff stay upbeat, motivated and empowered to do well moving forward.”

Australian workers’ views on the positive versus negative impacts of COVID-19 on work

Considering the next three years, how do you expect COVID-19 to impact your work?

Positive impact

Negative Impact

No impact

Development of my skill set

33%

23%

44%

Flexibility at work

38%

21%

41%

The way I do my work

35%

22%

43%

Work-life balance

32%

28%

40%

Opportunities to advance my career

28%

28%

43%

Ability to find a new job

23%

39%

39%

Financial security

24%

38%

38%

About the research

People at Work 2021: A Global Workforce View explores employees’ attitudes towards the current world of work and what they expect and hope for from the workplace of the future.

ADP Research Institute surveyed 32,471 workers in 17 countries around the world between 17 November and 11 December 2020. This included:

  • 15,307 in Europe (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the UK)
  • 3,811 in North America (USA and Canada)
  • 5,726 in Latin America (Argentina, Brazil and Chile)
  • 7,627 in Asia Pacific (APAC) (Australia, China, India and Singapore).

Global results are weighted to represent the size of the working population for each country.

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