Worker optimism shaken during COVID-19 but Australian future outlook is positive

Optimism among workers in Australia has been shaken in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is confidence that there will be positive changes to the working environment.

The ADP Research Institute’s People at Work 2021: A Global Workforce View.

The report found 4 of 5 Aussie workers feel optimistic about the next 5 years in the workplace.

The global survey of more than 32,000 workers in 17 countries explores whether the effects of the pandemic have impacted employees’ attitudes towards the current world of work and what they expect and hope for from the workplace of the future.

Australians also appear hopeful that COVID-19 will have a positive impact on key workplace factors.

Australian workers surveyed were extremely or very confident that:

  • They could find another job offering the same job satisfaction (42%),
  • Better pay (40%) and
  • Increased flexibility (39%).

Peter Hadley, President APAC at ADP, commented: “This new data from ADP tells us that Australians really felt the pressures falling out from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Although many people have been hard hit professionally, there’s a sense that what has been a dark cloud could have a silver lining in various ways when it comes to the world of work.”

“In terms of accelerating the shift towards flexible working patterns, two in five Australians say they believe COVID-19 has had a positive impact here.”

In the current landscape, the report indicates that while there is optimism for what the future holds, there remain high levels of unease, with almost three-quarters of workers (72%) saying that during the pandemic they have had concerns over their financial or job security.

These fears are understandable, given that more than half (56%) report having been impacted professionally in some way due to COVID-19. Of these changes, a quarter of respondents (25%) either lost a job, were furloughed or were temporarily laid off by their employer.

1 in 6 took a pay cut (15%), while almost 1 in 5 (18%) reduced their hours or responsibilities.

“Job or financial security is priority for many, and these concerns unfortunately reflect reality.”

“In a year when many businesses have had to shut, or significantly alter their operations, the effects of the disruption and uncertainty on the workforce have been profound,” said Hadley.

“The challenge now for employers and HR teams is to find ways to harness the positives and alleviate the negatives to ensure that staff stay upbeat, motivated and empowered to do well.”

Australian workers’ views on the positive versus negative impacts of COVID-19 on work
Considering the next three years, how do you expect COVID-19 to impact your work? Positive impact Negative Impact No impact
Development of my skill set 33% 23% 44%
Flexibility at work 38% 21% 41%
The way I do my work 35% 22% 43%
Work-life balance 32% 28% 40%
Opportunities to advance my career 28% 28% 43%
Ability to find a new job 23% 39% 39%
Financial security 24% 38% 38%


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