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People-Centered Initiatives, Business Agility Take Center Stage in 2021 Workforce Trends

ADP, a global HR technology leader, reveals key drivers reshaping the world of work in 2021

Significant shifts to the workplace in 2020 are making way for a newly transformed world of work in 2021. The changing landscape this year has employers and workers looking to digital solutions to help them push through the challenges presented by a global pandemic, economic recession and social injustice. As businesses navigate forward, ADP identifies the key trends reshaping the 2021 workforce.

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“As we move into a new year, it is clear businesses are having to accelerate their transformation to adapt to new realities,” said Don Weinstein, corporate vice president of global product and technology at ADP. “Not only do we see an increased need for rapid, real-time data to reveal gaps and empower nimble and impactful decision-making; we’re also seeing a resounding call for employers to focus on the well-being of their workers and create a workplace where everyone can work confidently and thrive. These trends will shape a new, stronger foundation for how work gets done in the future.”

Trends Shaping the 2021 Workforce

Focus on Resilience and Safety

Employers will prioritize the needs of their workers and take steps to ensure a safe return to the workplace by putting protocols in place to limit potential exposure. In tandem, employees will be looking for support to help them adapt and grow amid changing working conditions.

Key Findings

  • ADP surveyed employers with 1,000+ employees at the onset of the pandemic and found 39% of employers reported that employees’ health fear was a top concern. As employers prioritize the health and safety of their workers, the nature of the workplace itself will evolve.
  • Workers themselves cited significant stressors. In its study, “A Post-Pandemic Workforce: Tracking Perspectives Amid COVID-19,” ADP Research Institute found that in the first few weeks of the crisis, as workers struggled with childcare constraints, fear of the virus, technical issues and trouble completing their tasks, over 40% of workers reported increasing levels of personal stress.
  • According to ADP data, employer calls for guidance on wellness issues, including benefits, paid time off and employee assistance programs, increased 40% year over year.
  • However, in the face of these challenges, employees are becoming more resilient. According to ADP Research Institute, research conducted in recent months has begun to unravel the picture of resilience in the workplace. The Institute surveyed over 26,000 employees across the globe from 25 countries to understand Engagement, Workplace Resilience and the impact of COVID-19 on the workplace. In its “Global Workplace Study, 2020,” the more workplace disruption workers experienced, the more resilient they feel, and are up to 13.2x more likely to be highly resilient.
  • In the “Global Workplace Study, 2020,” a large part of those studied, 37.3%, continued to work as normal during the pandemic and 26% had already returned to work after the global shutdown. Top of mind for the workers studied was safety. Some had returned to work; others anticipated their return in a couple of weeks and others said it might be months to feel safe again. Fifteen percent of the global workers expressed that they will feel safe when their government tells them it is safe to return. Seven percent of the sample stated that they may never feel safe returning to work.

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