Wednesday, November 4, 2020, BANGALORE, India

Physical safety, burnout, job stability: Indian employees share top COVID-19 concerns for the workplace of today and tomorrow

The Workforce Institute at UKG uncovers lessons learned from the early months of the pandemic to create inspiring workplaces through 2021

In a sweeping survey of employees and business leaders across 11 nations, The Workforce Institute at UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group) found that 53% of Indian employees trust their employer more now than before the pandemic began because of how organisations reacted, which is the highest among countries. Moreover the report cites that 46% of Indian employees feel that their organisation treated them with respect and integrity and 38% feel that their employer prioritised their emotional and mental well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hindsight 2020: COVID-19 Concerns into 2021," commissioned by The Workforce Institute at UKG and conducted by Workplace Intelligence, explores how employees and business leaders 1 felt about their employer’s initial COVID-19 response and the top needs and concerns of the workforce through 2021. The study surveyed nearly 4,000 respondents across India, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, the U.K and the U.S.

News Facts

  • Clean and healthy workplaces are meaningless without job security, flexibility, and work-life harmony.
    • Half of surveyed employees globally say they’ve been working either the same or more hours regularly since the start of the pandemic. This explains why more than half (55%) of Indian employees are concerned about their organisation’s ability to help balance workloads in order to prevent fatigue/burnout.
    • While 72% of Indian employees and business leaders said their organisations have taken at least some measures to guard against burnout, 36% wished organisations would act with more empathy.
    • More than one third (35%) of Indian employees and business leaders wished their organisation better leveraged technology to provide flexibility, especially when the pandemic was at its most chaotic. Furthermore, the majority (53%) highlighted that their organisations should have responded more quickly to the situation early on.
    • When it comes to concerns of future layoffs and furloughs due to economic instability created by COVID-19, Indian workers are the least concerned cohort globally, at 32%. Compared to other parts of the world where economic instability is most concerning such as in China (44%), Mexico (41%), Canada (40%), and the U.S. (37%).
  • More than half of Indian employees (58%) say quick notification about confirmed COVID-19 cases in the workplace is their top concern.
    • Even though older workers are considered a higher risk population for COVID-19, the younger the respondent, globally, the more concerned they are with rapid notifications in the workplace. Rapid employer notification is the biggest concern for more than half of Gen Zers and younger Millennials2 (51%), and then decreasing by generation from older Millennials (45%), to Gen Xers (44%), and then Boomers (42%).
    • While employees and business leaders in India (58%), Mexico (53%), and China (48%) say sharing news of a positive test is a top concern, fewer people in Germany (39%) and Australia/New Zealand (38%) feel the same way.
    • Furthermore, Indian respondents are equally concerned about encountering an asymptomatic visitor at work (49%) and being in close contact with an asymptomatic coworker (49%).
    • Only 5% of Indian employees are worried about movements being tracked at work to fight COVID-19—compared to the global average of 13%—signaling they may recognize the immediate safety benefits in this approach to aid contact tracing.
  • As workplaces reopen, swift decisions are even more important, and small common areas not open floorplanscommuting, and cleanliness concern employees and leaders.
    • A common complaint about the initial pandemic response? It was too slow, according to the majority (53%) of Indian employees and business leaders who wished offices closed faster and safety measures for essential workers were implemented sooner.
    • Moving forward, the top concern among Indian employees and business leaders is overall cleanliness (56%), followed by concerns with using shared common areas like shared workspaces and conference rooms (42%) as well as lounges and restrooms (40%).
    • More than a third of employees in India (38%) also voiced concern about passing through high-traffic areas such as elevators, staircases, and lobbies. India topped the charts with almost one third of employees (32%) worried about being in an open floorplan environment, compared to the global average of one in four (26%).
    • Physical workplace concerns vary by country: In India and France, the top concern is safely commuting to the workplace (72% and 50%, respectively), while overall cleanliness and sanitation is most worrisome to those in Mexico (60%), Canada (50%), Germany (47%), Australia and New Zealand (46%), the U.S. (44%), and the U.K. (42%). In China, two-thirds (63%) are worried about passing through high-traffic areas while a third of employees in the Netherlands (35%) are nervous about shared common areas.

Supporting Quotes

  • Sumeet Doshi, country manager, India, UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group)
    “Given the new dynamics of returning to the workplace in the midst of the pandemic, there is a need to revisit the entire employee experience by asking a vital question: does your response reassure employees and earn their trust that they are safe at the workplace? Firms now need to equip themselves with the latest technologies to safeguard their employees before looking at any other aspects around productivity or even engagement. Having a strong workforce management strategy around the re-entry of the workforce will be an essential component of any people plan.”
  • Dr. Chris Mullen, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, SPHR, executive director, The Workforce Institute at UKG
    “As organizations around the world operate through an unprecedented global pandemic, they need to double down on their employee experience strategy. However, instead of looking for trendy perks, they must get back to the foundational needs every employee requires: physical safety, psychological security, job stability, and flexibility. Among employees who trust their organization more now than before the pandemic, 70% say the company went above and beyond in their COVID-19 response. By truly putting the employee first, a mutual trust will begin to take hold that will propel employee engagement—and the success of the business/s—to new levels.”
  • Dan Schawbel, best-selling author and managing partner, Workplace Intelligence; advisory board member, The Workforce Institute at UKG
    “While organizations made mistakes during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees also recognize the unprecedented nature of this once-in-a-generation event. Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, employees want their employers to adapt and evolve as quickly as possible. Those that have made changes to address protect employees—specifically physically, emotionally, and with economic stability—have earned newfound employee trust, which will be a valuable commodity that helps ensure future success.”

Supporting Resources


About The Workforce Institute at UKG

The Workforce Institute provides research and education on critical workplace issues facing organizations around the globe. By bringing together thought leaders, The Workforce Institute is uniquely positioned to empower organizations with the knowledge and information they need to manage their workforces effectively and provide a voice for employees on important workplace issues. A hallmark of The Workforce Institute's research is balancing the needs and desires of diverse employee populations with the needs of organizations. For additional information, visit www.workforceinstitute.org.

About UKG

At UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), Our Purpose Is People. Built from a merger that created one of the largest cloud companies in the world, UKG believes organizations succeed when they focus on their people. As a leading global provider of HCM, payroll, HR service delivery, and workforce management solutions, UKG’s award-winning Pro, Dimensions, and Ready solutions help tens of thousands of organizations across geographies and in every industry drive better business outcomes, improve HR effectiveness, streamline the payroll process, and help make work a better, more connected experience for everyone. UKG has more than 12,000 employees around the globe and is known for its inclusive workplace culture. The company has earned numerous awards for its culture, products, and services, including consecutive years on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list. To learn more, visit www.ukg.com.

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Survey Methodology

Research findings are based on a survey conducted by Savanta, Inc. for Workplace Intelligence on behalf of The Workforce Institute at Kronos in June 2020. For this survey, 3,903 domestic and international respondents were asked general questions to explore leadership and employee attitudes around trust in the workplace, digital transformation and crisis response/management. The study targeted people between the ages of 18+ and 55 years old. Respondents are recruited through a number of different mechanisms, via different sources to join the panels and participate in market research surveys. All panellists have passed a double opt-in process and complete on average 300 profiling data points prior to taking part in surveys. Respondents are invited to take part via email and are provided with a small monetary incentive for doing so. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 1.6 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.