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Global Survey of Senior Executives and Employees Finds Workforce Satisfaction is Plummeting

Kelly report discovers some employers are thriving while most struggle to build resilient organizations.

ROY, Mich. (May 3, 2023) — As employers around the world contend with the greatest workforce disruption in generations, a new global report released today by staffing leader Kelly (Nasdaq: KELYA, KELYB) uncovers a striking disconnect between senior executives and talent. The 2023 Kelly Global Re:work Report finds that most organizations are failing to meet the needs of employees and risk erasing progress made during the pandemic. The report identifies resilient organizations thriving amid the disruption, emphasizing the importance of building workforce resilience in today’s dynamic labor market.

The third consecutive global workforce report from Kelly, titled The Three Pillars of Workforce Resilience, uncovers how businesses are struggling to scale, retain, and develop talent—resulting in lower performance, missed business opportunities, and more disengaged employees. Despite these challenges, some organizations are thriving by focusing on three crucial pillars: workforce agility; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); and workforce capability.

“Now more than ever, employers are struggling to keep up with the evolving needs of talent, and risk falling behind if they don’t bridge the growing divide related to workplace expectations,” said Tammy Browning, senior vice president of Kelly. “As organizations enter a post-pandemic era, those that prioritize building a resilient workforce by focusing on the three pillars will be better equipped to adapt to the future of work and thrive in changing market conditions.”

Kelly surveyed senior executives and talent across 11 countries and 9 sectors. Key findings include:

  • Employees are ready to move on—but not for the reasons executives think. Almost a third of talent (28%) are prepared to leave their employer in the next 12 months, due to poor work-life balance and lack of development opportunities, while executives believe it’s due to compensation.
  • Executives recognize they aren’t doing enough to meet the needs of their workforce. Fewer than half (47%) say they are doing more to support the wellbeing of employees compared with 12 months ago, while around a quarter report that employee wellbeing (24%) and satisfaction (23%) have decreased over the same period.
  • Many employees do not experience an inclusive workplace. Almost half (43%) report they have experienced non-inclusive behaviors at their current employer. Surprisingly, 62% of talent surveyed who say they are planning to leave their roles within 12 months also report non-inclusive behavior in their workplace. More than a third (37%) say they work in a “psychologically unsafe environment.”
  • DEI initiatives have plateaued and may be dropping off – a sign of DEI fatigue. Nearly half of executives (47%) say their DEI strategy only pays lip service to supporting underrepresented groups. Shockingly, fewer than one in five executives (16%) say their organization has a clear route for reporting discrimination at work. Only 35% of talent say that leaders in their organization model inclusive behaviors at all times, while 38% believe their employer only pays lip service to DEI.
  • An epidemic of “quiet quitting” is underway. Almost half of executives (46%) report they have been affected by “quiet quitting” over the last 12 months. Nearly half (45%) of talent have been, or currently are, quietly quitting.
  • Employees see the advantages of automation and aren’t opposed. While 71% of talent say automation is positive for business performance, 33% also say it has been positive for employees.

The report provides a framework for organizations interested in following the lead of the “Resilience Leaders”—those building workforce resilience and achieving increased employee productivity, customer satisfaction, revenue, and profits over the past 12 months. The Resilience Leaders represent 12% of executive survey respondents, and they are focusing on the three pillars needed to build a resilient workforce by:

  1. Implementing strategies to build workforce agility. Leading organizations are far more likely than “laggard” organizations to say they are effective at recruiting the contingent talent required to achieve their business objectives (63% versus 30%).
  2. Automating repeatable tasks to free up talent for more meaningful work and upskilling opportunities. Workforce Resilience Leaders are ahead of the pack, with 61% successfully automating aspects of their business to improve workforce resilience, versus 33% of laggards.
  3. Keeping their commitments to DEI. Leading firms are more likely than laggard organizations to be focused on building inclusion – by listening to employees’ views (62% versus 33%), providing a living wage (70% versus 51%), or offering flexible and hybrid work arrangements (55% versus 40%). This seems to be paying dividends: they are also more likely to report that employee satisfaction and wellbeing improved over the past year (62% versus 41%).
  4. Prioritizing talent development and training. Resilience Leaders are more likely than laggard organizations to have implemented accelerated training programs to quickly upskill talent (75% versus 55%) and are also more likely to offer career development programs that enable employees to gain experience in other areas of the business (72% versus 56%).

“The talent crisis has impacted our organization in a number of ways. Five years ago, it was challenging to find highly skilled candidates but today the pool is even smaller. This situation has opened our eyes to how we can do things differently – we need to more flexible and creative in how we define roles and the experience we seek,” said JJ Girt, HR leader, Evoqua Water Technologies.

Read the full report here for additional insights.

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