The 2021 research

Adecco’s 2020 Resetting Normal: Defining the New Era of Work report described trends that were accelerating due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, a more complete picture has emerged of the changes to the way we work and the key drivers of productivity, employee trust, engagement, health and wellbeing, and overall company success. Adecco’s recent strategic acquisitions and worldwide scope provide it with both the expertise to analyze and the capacity to affect solutions to the dynamic opportunities and challenges identified in the report.

Resetting Normal: Defining the New Era of Work 2021, examines how attitudes to work have changed over 12 months and highlights the key issues companies must manage to successfully adapt in this period of transition. This report covers 25 countries and 14,000 respondents across the globe – making it one of the world’s most comprehensive survey on the world of work to date.

Key findings

Hybrid Working is here to stay, but flexibility is key

The research reveals that globally a large proportion (53%) of workers want a hybrid working model where at least half of their time spent working is remote, with a large proportion of workers (71%) now having a set-up at home that allows effective remote work. The last 18 months has proved that remote work does not come with a loss of productivity, and that a more inclusive and flexible way of working is possible. More than three quarters of workers want to retain flexibility over their own schedule, going back into the office, but on their own terms. This is especially strong for younger generations and parents, who are calling for more office time, with those who have children wanting to be in the office more (51%) than those who do not (42%).

Productivity and results-orientation

While many have benefited from hybrid working, not everyone has had a positive experience. Questions over the length of the working week must be addressed as the future stays flexible, with mention of long hours increasing 14% in the last year and more than half of workers (57%) stating they would be able to do the same work in less than 40 hours. More (73%) workers and leaders are calling to be measured by outcomes and results rather than hours spent working, a trend that was already strong in 2020.

Poor mental health highlighted as rapidly emerging issue

The report also reveals that we are at risk of losing a new generation of leaders – with more than half of young leaders (54%) suffering from burnout and 3 in 10 workers more generally stating their mental and physical health has declined in the last 12 months. Companies must re-evaluate how they can better support and provide wellbeing resources to their employees within the new hybrid working model, with 67% of non-managers saying leaders don’t meet their expectations for checking on their mental wellbeing.

The leadership deficit

In a similar nature, there is a big disconnect between management views of their own performance and the opinion of their employees. Satisfaction with leadership is low, with only a third of non-managers feel they are getting due recognition within the business, and only half of all workers say their managers met or exceeded expectations for encouraging a good working culture (48%) or helping support their work/life balance (50%). This is particularly strong in Western Europe and Japan, whose satisfaction with senior leadership is lowest.

Mass exodus unlikely as companies begin to rehire

Finally, the findings highlighted that with motivation and engagement at a low, less than half are satisfied with career prospects at their company, but the predicted ‘great resignation’ is not yet evident. In addition, two-thirds of workers are confident that companies will start significant hiring again, with security, agency, culture, wellbeing and development most important aspects of employment for the future.

Download the report

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