Employers will need to “win with empathy” as the uncertainty wrought by the coronavirus pandemic and its aftermath not only change how people work now, but will work in the future. That’s according to a Mercer study, 2020 Global Talent Trends.
It points out that the accelerating changes in the workplace forced by the coronavirus are causing employers to focus on employee health and financial wellness, and on providing training for future workforce disruptions such as AI. They have plenty of good reasons to focus more on employees, according to the study, including the fact that 34 percent of employees expect their jobs to be replaced in three years. In addition, only a little more than half—55 percent—trust their organization to reskill them if their job changes as a result of automation.
But even though 85 percent of executives agree that the organization’s purpose should extend beyond shareholder primacy, says the report, only 35 percent of companies actually do that now. As employers themselves have to transform to manage such changes, the report says that they also need to reconsider their company’s purpose and their responsibilities to employees and employees’ future earnings.
In addition, workers have to be supported to be able to grow and shape a sustainable business—something 68 percent of executives say they want to do. And there are plenty of other gaps—not supporting older employees, failing the 63 percent of workers who say they’re at risk of burning out, not providing financial education for employees (just 23 percent of companies do this, although 78 percent of employees want long-term financial planning).
The road ahead won’t be easy for workers, with 63 percent of HR leaders predicting stagnant wage growth—something that won’t go over well with employees. And there’s a probability that the global economy could weigh on any changes they may intend to impose on their workforce.
“Balancing economics and empathy in all people decisions is important, even more so now as we face questions, concerns and the uncertainty of a global pandemic,” Ilya Bonic, president, career and head of strategy at Mercer, is quoted saying.
Bonic adds, “Organizations need to have a financial model and cultural mindset that enables them to prepare for and invest in the future. This rethinking of purpose and priorities is vital across the organization, but especially for HR. The findings from this year’s study make it clear that transformation of the HR function is a key component to creating a sustainable organization.”