From Surviving a Global Pandemic to Thriving at Work: Manpowergroup Research Explores What Flexibility Means for Workers; Partners With Thrive to Identify Ways Employers Can Support Employee Well-Being

  • 45% of workers want to choose their own work start and end times
  • Almost one fifth of workers (18%) would work a four-day work week for less pay
  • A culture of trust is important; 71% of workers need trust in leadership to thrive
  • Well-being now an essential strategy for hiring and business success

Workers are calling for more from their employers to help them shift from surviving to thriving, prioritizing flexibility along with factors such as trust, purpose, and well-being, according to new research from ManpowerGroup and Thrive, the leading behavior change technology company founded by Arianna Huffington.

The research “What Workers Want: From Surviving to Thriving at Work,” part of ManpowerGroup’s What Workers Want series, is based on a survey of more than 5,000 workers across five countries and reveals that almost all workers (93%) now view flexibility as important. However, the nature of that flexibility varies. Workers from all backgrounds are now asking for flexibility on their own terms with 45% wanting to choose their own start and end times and 18% willing to reduce pay to work a four day week to achieve better balance. The results also point to a changing role for leaders as trust and shared values are increasingly significant – with workers willing to vote with their feet if they do not feel adequately supported.

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“A lasting legacy of the pandemic will be flexibility, but it’s not one-size-fits-all. Workers want more choice, autonomy and consideration for their well-being.” said Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup Chairman & CEO. “We’re seeing the highest talent shortages in 16 years, giving workers at almost every level and in every sector the upper hand. Employers have no choice but to pay attention. The challenge for leaders will be to listen, adapt and think differently about how to approach flexibility, not just flexible working.”
ManpowerGroup partnered with Thrive to identify immediate actions that employers can take to support employee well-being. By adopting practices like Entry Interviews, creating a culture of compassionate directness, and encouraging employees to practice Microsteps, companies can create long-lasting cultural change.

“The disruptions of the past two years have forced us to consider what we really value, and we have a once-in-generation opportunity to rethink the way we work and live,” said Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO of Thrive. “We were in the middle of a global epidemic of stress and burnout even before COVID. Then the pandemic hit, and employee well-being and resilience shot to the top of the agenda for companies all over the world. At Thrive, we work with companies who realize that their most important resource is their people. They’re seeing the direct connection between the long-term health of their bottom line and the health and well-being of their employees.”

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Trust is important for a thriving workforce, according to the survey. Trust in colleagues was rated second only to fair pay and safe working conditions by workers (79%), while trust in leaders was rated highly by more than two-thirds (71%). Additionally, workers want to work for companies that share their values and beliefs, with 70% seeking meaning in their daily work.

The pandemic put mental health firmly at the top of public and corporate agendas and workers now see well-being as a shared responsibility with employers. Stress levels have dropped since the peak of the pandemic (42% to 38%) but are still higher than pre-March 2020. Increasingly employers will be called on to address burnout, build resilience and boost mental fitness.

The What Workers Want: From Surviving to Thriving at Work data provides clear insight and practical recommendations for organizations to understand what workers want to thrive at work, and what employers need to do now to ensure both organizations and individuals are primed to succeed.

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