PwC Survey: Productivity has risen with remote/hybrid, but so has burnout, which has contributed to record numbers of resignations globally

Mihai-Alexandru Cristea 23/11/2021 | 18:24

Remote and hybrid working has provided a short-term productivity boost in most workplaces globally. Those gains have come at the expense of employee trust, with burnout being partially responsible, because a lot of people have not been able to find a balance between their personal life and workload, according to the PwC Future of Work and Skills Survey.


Almost 60% of the respondents said that their organisation had performed better against workforce performance and productivity targets over the past 12 months. Only 4% said that their company had performed significantly worse in that time.

However, employee trust has declined, with only 31% of the business and HR leaders surveyed strongly believing that their organisation is building high levels of trust between workers and their direct supervisors, and 74% are not fully confident that workloads are manageable enough for employees to make full use of their personal time.

“Maintaining and even increasing employee productivity through remote working policies since the start of the pandemic has been a pleasant surprise for organisations that were initially rather pessimistic. But as time went on, the new way of working began to show its shortcomings. The difficulty of simultaneously managing work and family responsibilities, the lack of face-to-face interaction with colleagues and the social uncertainty generated by the pandemic are just a few factors that explain the recent global wave of resignations and declining attachment to employers. It is encouraging that in the survey, almost 40% of leaders said that trust between employees and their direct managers is very important. Companies must find a balance between the way they work and people’s health, with a data-based approach employed to understand and prevent the reasons for diminishing retention rates”, said Dinu Bumbăcea, Country Managing Partner, PwC Romania.

The report notes that burnout has become its own epidemic and is now recognised by the World Health Organisation as an official disease. Weary and anxious workers are resigning from their jobs in record numbers around the world. In the US alone, 20 million people quit their jobs between April and August 2021, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics. The UK’s Office for National Statistics reported more than 1 million open jobs in August 2021.


Digitalization – a challenge for companies, anxiety for employees

Digitalisation will continue to be a top concern for leaders and a source of anxiety for employees because most organisations do not understand the risks of replacing human labour with technology and people are afraid for their jobs.

Only 21% of the leaders surveyed strongly agreed that they can identify the potential risks caused by decisions to replace human work with technology. Only 25% strongly agreed that they communicate clearly and consistently to employees and other stakeholders about the impact of automation and AI.

A third of the HR and business leaders surveyed say that it is very important to identify the skills the organisation will need in the future due to technological change, but only 26% strongly agree that they can.

As far as employees are concerned, companies need to communicate consistently and provide training opportunities for the jobs of the future to support the long-term employability of their people.


About the survey

The survey was conducted in September with about 4,000 CEOs and HR executives from 28 industries and 26 countries.

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