New Research Reveals Attitudes on the Future of Work and the Employee/Employer Contract

After the 2022 U.S. midterm elections, Powell Tate, Weber Shandwick and KRC Research, conducted a pulse poll to track public opinion on a host of critical issues heading into 2023.  

Findings reveal that as another year winds down, America is reckoning with social and cultural aftershocks of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Companies, workers and consumers are navigating related economic uncertainty heading into the new year – as well as complex challenges associated with shifting attitudes of the workplace and its role in society. 

The survey revealed intersecting themes regarding these realities: 

  1. Employees are largely back in their workplaces and a large number are struggling with wellness issues. 
  2. Consumers and employees alike believe in the power of business to make a positive difference, but employees are growing skeptical of their own employers’ impact. 

The poll was conducted among 1,006 U.S. adults between November 14 and 16, 2022 and included full- and part-time employees as well as non-employed individuals (homemakers, students, unemployed and retired). Key findings include: 

The future of work:

  • The majority of employees are back in workplaces, with 68% reporting that they are back full-time, despite 21% of those employees saying their work can be done from home. Only 12% split their time between home and workplace. 
  • Sixty-two percent (62%) of Gen Z and 59% of Millennials say they worry about their mental health and wellness, compared to a lower percentage (46%) among Baby Boomers. 
  • Millennials and Gen Z employees are significantly more restless about their jobs than Gen X and Boomers, which also seems to challenge worker loyalty to their employers. 

The role of employers:

  • Sixty-two percent (62%) of consumers and 69% of employees said they believe business is a constructive force for positive social change. Gen Z (76%) and Millennials (72%) are most likely to share this view, compared to Gen X (59%) and Baby Boomers (45%). 
  • A significant majority – 71% to 85% – believe companies should create societal value and uphold their own company, employee and community values, yet fewer than 1 in 3 respondents gave their own employer an excellent rating in any one of these value areas.  
  • For the first time in more than two years, only 50% of consumers and 59% of employees are confident that they are taking the right steps. Such confidence among employees is down 8 points since June.

What does success look like for business leaders?

Amid lingering pandemic effects, instilling workforce loyalty will continue to be a critical challenge for employers and business leaders – especially with a softening economy and as Millennials and other younger workers redefine the intersection of workplace and social issues. To succeed, leaders must:  

  1. Seek to understand and address the distinct expectations among generations and political perspectives 
  2. Prioritize social issues 
  3. Keep a pulse on employee sentiment and concerns   
  4. Act with sensibility 

For more on the data and to learn more about business implications, download as a PDF here.

More Insights from Our Subject Matter Experts

Powell Tate’s report, Leading at the Intersections 2023, provides actionable insights on some of the biggest issues of the moment, what to be watching for in 2023, plus some of our best thinking from the past year.