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.

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