The coronavirus pandemic has caused the largest labor disruption in modern history and in the process has radically shifted the balance of power from capital to labor, a new report states.
The Bain / Dynata survey titled The working future: more human, not less looked at 20,000 workers in 10 countries – the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and Nigeria – representing about 65 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).
The survey, which looked at the shift in work between February 2020 and February 2021, highlights that the pre-existing relationship between workers and companies was forged in a world completely different from the one in which we live today.
“A year of in-depth research has helped us define the broader implications of the future of employment and the steps companies must now take to emerge in the changing war for talent,” the report concludes.
Workers in the US have become increasingly confident about their job prospects. Organization, association and protest of working conditions have become quite a phenomenon in recent months. Employees are encouraged to tackle large companies such as coffee makers Starbucks and grain manufacturer Kellogg.
Data underscores the shifting balance of power. About 4.2 million Americans resigned their jobs in October and 4.4 million resigned in September. The phenomenon has been dubbed the Great Resignation by economists (many of whom are left wondering).
Punch the clock: What now?
What drives the Great Resignation? The factors range from fear of contracting COVID-19 and childcare challenges to baby boomers taking early retirement and workers using their entrepreneurial spirit to start their own businesses.
Workers found themselves in a good bargaining position – and that leverage effect is evident in the average hourly earnings, which, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, increased by 4.8 percent in November from the same period a year ago.
“More than just input, workers are the atomic building blocks of the modern firm. Yet our understanding of workers – their hopes and desires, their untapped potential, their emotional state – is often superficial, ”says the Bain / Dynata survey.
Millions of Americans have used the disruption of the labor market and unprecedented upheaval of daily life caused by the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to reevaluate what they want out of life and how their work can make those goals happen .
The Bain / Dynata report also found that motivations for work have shifted greatly. Fewer workers these days are blinded by dollar signs. According to the survey, while 56 percent of respondents mentioned compensation in their top three priorities, only 22 percent of workers considered good salary and benefits as the thing that matters most to them in a job.
Steps made in living standards, at least in developed countries, mean that workers are raising their expectations about what a job should offer. The gloomy picture of an unhappy worker beating the clock, reporting to duty nine to five without any heart or soul in his / her daily tasks, may no longer fly like an acceptable way of life.
Work-life balance: The war for talent
About 58 percent of the 10,000 workers surveyed by Bain / Dynata said the pandemic forced them to reconsider their work-life balance.
Workers have become more reluctant to stay at work that they consider unsuitable for their new goals and ambitions. This has made companies struggle to fill positions and work at full capacity.
And it is unlikely that the problem will soon disappear. Data show that American workers are not afraid to tell their bosses “I quit”.
In addition, younger generations, especially in advanced economies, are under increasing pressure and increasing psychological stress that spills over into their working lives. The search for work-life balance will only intensify, the report said.
Bain / Dynata says the humanization of workers can help companies stay in the fight for talent. It means investing in employees, offering them learning and training programs, making it easier for them to move laterally in their careers, and cultivating a winning mentality within the organization.
It also means respect. The way managers, executives and business leaders see and see employees needs to evolve, Bain / Dynata argues. Companies need to stop managing workers like machines and instead shift to supporting them to build personal capacity and create a career that better fits their idea of a fulfilling life – not that gloomy, soulless black-and-white picture not.
Yes, employees have a job to do, but managers also have the new responsibility of helping workers harness their skills and talents.
An organization or company that wants to win will have to create an environment of belonging and opportunities for workers at its core. A shared vision and common values maintained and promoted by the company’s leadership will be the key to morale and the preservation of the people who turn the wheels.