Many workers feel tired and overloaded. Image: REUTERS/ Albert Gea
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- Managers believe they’re doing well at supporting staff through changes to work wrought by the pandemic - new global survey.
- But employees disagree, telling researchers they are tired and overworked.
- Workers say they lack the training and support needed.
- More than a fifth of global workers have either been furloughed or lost their jobs.
Many bosses might feel relieved or even pleased with how well they’ve handled the move to remote working in response to COVID-19 but employees don’t share this view, a new survey suggests.
In fact, many workers feel tired and overloaded, the research by the IBM Institute for Business Value says. Meanwhile, their managers are confident their teams are getting the support and training they need.
Nearly three-quarters of managers in the survey say they’re helping their staff learn skills to work in a new way. But fewer than two-fifths of employees think they’re getting the training they need. They’re missing the face-to-face interaction being in the office brings, too.
The divide is even starker when it comes to supporting physical and emotional health. Eight out of 10 managers say they’re doing just that. But only 46% of workers believe their organization is doing enough to help them with their well-being.
To gather the data for the survey, the researchers interviewed 3,450 executives in 20 countries, including 400 CEOs in the United States. They also sent online questionnaires to 50,000 people in eight countries.
The resulting information paints a different picture to pre-pandemic surveys that showed many people thought working from home would be preferable to commuting to work. In 2019, one global survey found 99% wanted to work remotely at least some of the time.
According to the IBM report, most workers today feel disconnected and overworked. “Our research highlights a gaping chasm between what executives think they are offering their employees and how those employees feel,” it says.
“Employers significantly overestimate the effectiveness of their support and training efforts,” it notes, adding that it’s not just a matter of differing perceptions. The survey found that 22% of employees had been either furloughed or permanently laid off since the pandemic began.
The researchers also say that management emphasis on controlling costs and moving to technologies like artificial intelligence – while “practical and even necessary” – in response to the economic impact of the pandemic may be adding to employees’ sense that they’re replaceable.
Building better business
Executives should accept that changes brought about by the pandemic are permanent, the report says.
And it highlights the current opportunity to build better businesses, which “starts with enabling a diverse workforce to perform optimally”. Here it recommends actions for leaders including providing more support for flexible work options and emphasizing employee well-being and training.
The World Economic Forum’s recent report Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 4.0 urges employers to use technology to create a fair and inclusive working culture that allows people to be themselves at work.
The Forum is holding The Jobs Reset Summit, from 20 to 23 October, to examine ways organizations can achieve this.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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