As businesses prepare for 2022 and schools resume teaching, new research has revealed that 64 percent of workers are concerned about being in the workplace as new variants of COVID-19 spread throughout the community.
The ELMO Employee Sentiment Index found that the spread of the Omicron variant is causing considerable concern and may be behind the 76 percent of workers who support employers mandating employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, up from 66 percent in the July to September quarter.
More workers are also reporting they are uncomfortable working alongside unvaccinated colleagues with 63 percent voicing their concerns, up from 50 pe cent in the previous quarter.
The ELMO Employee Sentiment Index is commissioned by ELMO Software and conducted by independent research firm Lonergan Research each quarter among more than 500 geographically dispersed working New Zealanders. The poll data is weighted to the latest Stats NZ data.
Now in its fourth consecutive quarter of reporting, analysis of the full 2021 Employee Sentiment Index data has revealed the impact that COVID-19 has had on perceived job and economic insecurity.
Perceived economic security fell throughout 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic showed scarce signs of ending as the year progressed. In Q4, a quarter of workers (25%) rated the economy as ‘not secure’ for the second consecutive quarter. This is up from 25 percent in Q1 of 2021 as economic uncertainty began to have a marked impact on workers.
Job security has also declined throughout the year, with 52 percent of workers reporting their jobs as ‘secure’ in Q4. This is down from 54 percent in Q3, 55 percent in Q2 and 56 percent in Q1.
The most recent research asked workers about their intentions for 2022. The research discovered more than two in five New Zealand workers (43%) plan to actively search for a new job in 2022, while a third of workers (31%) say they plan to quit their current job as soon as they secure a new role and 15 percent plan to quit without another job lined up.
The findings come as a warning for employers that the ‘Great Resignation’ has arrived on New Zealand shores. It’s unfortunate timing for employers as they deal with a skills shortage and inflated wages.
Despite workers’ plans to begin looking elsewhere, workers said increased wages, more flexibility, more annual leave, a promotion and the ability to work remotely more often are some of the incentives which may encourage them to accept a counter-offer.
ELMO Software CEO and founder Danny Lessem says employers need to be prepared to manage changing employee concerns as COVID-19 and perceived economic insecurity impact workers’ wellbeing.
“Managing the spread of the Omicron variant in the workplace will need to be high on employers’ agenda as 64 percent of workers are concerned about being at work while new variants are spreading.
“However, employers might have greater means to introduce tougher COVID-19 measures with support for mandatory vaccinations in the workplace climbing to 76 percent.
“After a year of longitudinal data gathering and analysis the Employee Sentiment Index has offered a rare glimpse into the attitudes and concerns of New Zealand workers.
“This ongoing study has made clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a clear impact on workers’ perceived security and their overall wellbeing.
“Workers are feeling more burnt-out than at any other point recorded in 2021. More than two in five workers (43%) report they are burnt-out. This is up from 34 percent in Q3.
“Following the past year of lockdowns and uncertainty for many workers it is unsurprising that the use of mental health leave has climbed quarter-on-quarter throughout 2021.
“While many have speculated about its possible arrival, it seems New Zealand workers are willing to embrace the notion of a ‘Great Resignation’. More than two in five workers say they plan to search for a new job and a third say they are just waiting on a new role before leaving their current employer.”
To download the report click here.