In addition to living through a global health crisis, workers around the world are experiencing additional strains and exhaustion due to lack of support from their employers in their new remote work environment.
As a result, Microsoft found in its 2021 Work Trend Index report that 41% of the global workforce is considering leaving their employer within the next year. The survey, which looks at the trends shaping the future of work, also offered additional insights on employee sentiment during the coronavirus pandemic.
Pandemic reveals different realities for business leaders and their employees
This year's Work Trend Index survey revealed that business leaders are faring much better than the people who work for them.
More than 6 in 10 (61%) leaders stated they are "thriving" right now, despite the restrictions that many countries implemented due to the pandemic. Compared with the rest of the workforce, they also report:
- Building stronger relationships with colleagues (+11 percentage points)
- Building stronger relationships with leadership (+19 percentage points)
- Earning higher incomes (+17 percentage points)
- Taking all or more of their allotted vacation days (+12 percentage points)
These findings are in stark contrast to those of their rank-and-file employees, who are having immense difficulties adjusting to new work environments and expectations.
In addition to feeling overworked (54%) and exhausted (39%), 37% of respondents said that their companies are asking too much from them right now. Another 1 in 5 believe that their employer doesn't care about their work-life balance.
Many employees are also adjusting to a new or larger workload during this time, as SilkRoad Technology found that 63% of workers took on a new role or new responsibilities during the pandemic.
And even after a year characterized by notable remote work and financial struggles, over 46% of respondents report that their employer does not provide assistance with remote work expenses. As a result, 42% lack the office supplies and 10% lack the internet connection needed to do their work.
New work conditions especially hard on Gen Z
Before the pandemic, many first-time employees entered the workforce with a sense of excitement and anticipation. This year, however, is a different story.
Microsoft found that 60% of Gen Z employees — in this survey defined as those between the ages of 18 and 25 — are "merely surviving or flat-out struggling" during this crisis. Compared with older generations, these workers were also more likely to:
- Struggle balancing work with life (+8 percentage points)
- Feel exhausted after a typical day of work (+8 percentage points)
Similarly, a survey from the Standard found that 71% of Gen Z employees were experiencing mental health issues as a result of pandemic-era working conditions — a higher percentage than other generations.
They're not just struggling with stress and burnout, either. The Work Trend Index survey also revealed that Gen Z also had difficulties with:
- Feeling engaged or excited about work
- Getting a word in during meetings
- Bringing new ideas to the table
During a time when new working conditions have impacted employees across industries, Microsoft's findings indicate that those just entering the workforce are having an even harder time learning the ropes.
Methodology: On behalf of Microsoft, Edelman Data x Intelligence gathered data from 31,092 full-time employed or self-employed workers in 31 markets from January 12-25, 2021. The independent research firm surveyed at least 1,000 full-time workers in each market, and aggregated global results across respondents to arrive at an average.