A major report by global staffing leader Kelly into workplace resilience released has found an alarming disconnect between leaders’ and talent’s workplace expectations. As a result, businesses globally are struggling to retain and develop talent – resulting in lower business performance and an epidemic of ‘quiet quitting’.

The 2023 Kelly Global Re: work Report, named The Three Pillars of Workforce Resilience, surveyed 1,500 senior executives from multinational corporations who represent a total combined revenue of 4,240 billion GBP, coupled with a worker survey of 4,200 individuals across areas such as employee mental health, DE&I, so-called ‘quiet quitting’, and automation in the workplace.

Key findings include:

• Profitability, customer satisfaction and employee wellbeing are getting worse
◦ Just one in two executives said their profitability (53 per cent) and customer satisfaction (51 per cent) had improved over the past twelve months versus one in three (62 per cent and 64 per cent respectively) in the previous year
◦ Less than half (48 per cent) reported that employee wellbeing had improved over the same period versus 65 per cent in 2022

• Workers need more support from employers on their mental health
◦ Less than half (49 per cent) of employees feel their employer cares about their mental health
◦ One in three (37 per cent) feel they work in a psychologically unsafe environment
◦ Despite these problems, only one in three executives (33 per cent) believe they offer adequate resources to help employees take care of their mental health, whilst one in four (25 per cent) reported an increase in the number of employees who have taken time off from work or left the job due to mental health reasons compared with the previous year

• Fewer employee benefits in 2023 as senior leaders are unable to meet demands of workers
◦ Businesses are investing less in measures like flexible working (22 per cent say they are investing in this in 2023 versus 52 per cent in 2022), improving leave (21 per cent in 2023 versus 48 per cent in 2022) and shortening the work week (21 per cent in 2023 versus 31 per cent in 2022) to attract and retain talent
◦ At the same time, just over a third (36 per cent) have plans to increase pay over the next 12 months

• Quiet quitting phenomenon continues in 2023
◦ Almost half of employees surveyed (45 per cent) say they’re participating in ‘quiet quitting’
◦ Just under a third (28 per cent) reported they are ‘very likely’ to leave their employer in the next 12 months due to poor work-life balance (28 per cent) and lack of career progression (27 per cent)
◦ Executives are aware of the problem with one in four (25 per cent) reporting that their ability to retain top talent has worsened in the last 12 months

• Employees understand the benefits of automation but are concerned about their jobs
◦ Half of executives (50 per cent) believe automation has increased the capability of their workforce
◦ Employees recognise automation is positive for business (71 per cent), but some are concerned about the impact on their jobs with one in three (33 per cent) saying it has had a negative impact on them

“Today’s report should serve as a wakeup call for senior leaders globally,” says Adelle Harrington, head of KellyOCG EMEA. “The gap between employer and employee expectations is widening, in areas as diverse as DE&I and the value of automation, through to benefits and remuneration. The global pandemic transformed the world of work. It gave business leaders the opportunity to reflect on their workplace practices and implement real change to make work better for business and people. Businesses need to rethink their workforce strategies or risk losing talent to competitors prepared to meet their demands.”

The report finds that a small cohort of organisations, known as the ‘Resilience Leaders’, have seen improvements in employee productivity, customer satisfaction, revenue, and profit over the past 12 months.

Commenting on the Resilience Leaders, Adelle Harrington adds, “Important lessons can be taken from these leaders who are bucking the trend. Our report finds that what unites them is their focus on three key pillars – workforce agility, workforce capability and DE&I. Resilience Leaders are 15 per cent more likely to encourage the use of contingent talent than others, and almost twice as likely to say they are successfully automating aspects of their business (61 per cent versus 33 per cent of other companies) to support their workforce with better work-life balance.”

Read the full report here for additional insights.

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