The COVID-19 pandemic left people feeling lonely and disconnected from their own lives, according to a new study by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence.
The study of more than 14,600 workers across 13 countries found that while people feel stuck in their personal and professional lives they are ready to regain control of their futures.
- 80 percent of people have been negatively impacted by the last year, with many struggling financially (29 percent); suffering from declining mental health (28 percent); lacking career motivation (25 percent); and feeling disconnected from their own lives (23 percent).
- 62 percent found 2021 to be the most stressful year at work ever. More than half (52 percent) of people struggled with mental health at work more in 2021 than in 2020.
- The amount of people who feel little to no control over their personal and professional lives doubled since the start of the pandemic. People noted they have lost control over their futures (43 percent); personal lives (46 percent); careers (41 percent); and relationships (39 percent).
- 76 percent of people feel stuck in their personal lives, feeling anxiety about their future (31 percent); trapped in the same routine (27 percent); and more loneliness than ever before (26 percent).
Workers taking back control in their professional lives
The study found that workers' highest priorities are now work-life balance, mental health and workplace flexibility and that they and are willing to sacrifice traditional benefits, such as annnual leave and salary, for more career opportunities.
- 93 percent of people used the past year to reflect on their lives and 88 percent said the meaning of success has changed for them since the pandemic, with work-life balance (42 percent); mental health (37 percent); and workplace flexibility (33 percent) now top priorities.
- 75 percent feel stuck professionally, because they don't have growth opportunities to progress their career (25 percent) and are too overwhelmed to make any changes (22 percent).
- 70 percent of people say feeling stuck in their career has negatively impacted their personal lives as well by adding extra stress and anxiety (40 percent); contributing to feeling stuck personally (29 percent); and taking focus away from their personal lives (27 percent).
- 83 percent of people are ready to make a change, but 76 percent said they are facing major obstacles. The biggest hurdles include financial instability (22 percent); not knowing what career change makes sense for them (20 percent); not feeling confident enough to make a change (20 percent); and seeing no growth opportunities at their company (20 percent).
- Going into 2022, professional development is top of mind with many willing to give up key benefits such as vacation time (52 percent); monetary bonuses (51 percent); and even part of their salary (43 percent) for more career opportunities.
- However, 85 percent of the global workforce are not satisfied with their employer's support. They are looking for organizations to provide more learning and skills development (34 percent); higher salaries (31 percent); and opportunities for new roles within their company (30 percent).
Workers demand investment in learning and skills, and say they trust robots to help guide their careers
- 85 percent of people want technology to help define their future by identifying skills they need to develop (36 percent); recommending ways to learn new skills (36 percent); and providing next steps to progress towards career goals (32 percent).
- 75 percent of people would make life changes based on robot recommendations.
- 82 percent believe robots can support their careers better than a human by giving unbiased recommendations (37 percent); quickly answering questions about their career (33 percent); or finding new jobs that fit their current skills (32 percent).
- People believe humans still have a critical role to play in career development and believe humans are better at providing support by offering advice based on personal experience (46 percent); identifying strengths and weaknesses (44 percent); and looking beyond a resume to recommend roles that fit personalities (41 percent).
- 87 percent of people believe their company should be doing more to listen to their needs and 55 percent are more likely to stay with a company that uses advanced technologies like AI to support career growth.
Dan Schawbel, managing partner, Workplace Intelligence: "Investment in skills and career development is now a key differentiator for employers."
Yvette Cameron, senior vice president, Oracle Cloud HCM: "Businesses need to place a higher priority on helping employees identify and develop new skills and provide personalized career journeys so they can feel in control of their careers again."