Are employees seeing light at the end of the pandemic tunnel?

Worker confidence, which plummeted early in the COVID-19 pandemic, might finally be leveling off, according to a recent survey.

Among other things, the ADP Research Institute report, titled A Workplace Redefined: Employee Resilience Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic, found that despite the past several weeks of economic downturn, workers are showing signs of optimism. For its research, ADP polled more than 24,000 workers for eight consecutive weeks.

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The study shows nearly 70% of workers expect to retain their jobs for at least the next month. Concerns over personal finances appear to be short-term as well, with 58% expecting their finances to return to previous levels in less than six months–even for those not working right now. Also, there was very little difference among those who reported job loss or furlough and those who did not.

Other takeaways from the report:

  • American workers are becoming comfortable with the “new normal”–The shift in work and where it is done appears to have reached its new “normal.” In the first few weeks of the crisis, the ADP survey found high stress levels as workers struggled with childcare constraints, fear of the virus, technical issues and trouble completing their tasks. As the weeks progressed, many of these issues became less likely to impact their work. Though elements such as stress, work/life balance, the ability to connect with others and the ability to complete tasks did not improve, they became less likely to get worse each week, possibly signifying workers were becoming more comfortable with the change.
  • Employer actions have long-term effects–By week eight of the survey, 60% of workers revealed they were satisfied with actions taken by their employer in response to COVID-19, citing increased sanitation procedures, sharing positive messages and limiting customer interactions as the most common company responses. In fact, more than 60% of those “highly satisfied” with their employers’ actions believed their company was putting people first. For example, employers have made changes to increase PTO, add benefits and support local hospitals or charities.

“The workforce has hit a new ‘normal’ in what it looks like and how it functions, and it is clear that employers and employees adapted quickly to a new way of working,” says Ahu Yildirmaz, co-head of the ADP Research Institute. She adds that the pandemic has significantly changed the world of work, upended employees’ everyday lives and undoubtedly will have a long-lasting effect on organizations, noting that the rate of the labor-market decline may be historic, but employee sentiment has begun to show stabilization.

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“Our research shows that, while stress, work/life balance, the ability to connect with others and the ability to complete tasks haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels, employee outlook appears to be leveling off despite the impact of COVID-19,” she says. “As the workforce continues to demonstrate resilience by overcoming challenges and adapting to a new way of working, the shifts we’ve seen previously in workforce flexibility will become a necessity.”

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Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at [email protected].