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The four big stats that summarize how people feel about returning to work

October 10, 2020

Companies around the U.S. are thinking carefully about how to reopen their workplaces amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers are under more pressure than ever to protect the health and safety of their employees. 

As a workplace platform, we care a ton about how employers are approaching the problem. On our blog and in the popular media, there’s been a great deal of discussion around the measures employers can take. But Envoy is equally committed to creating great experiences for employees—we wanted to understand their concerns. To learn more, we commissioned Wakefield Research to survey 1,000 U.S. full and part-time employees.

The survey revealed that most respondents want to go back to their workplace—at least part of the time. It also demonstrates that they have significant concerns about their employers’ ability to keep them safe. The majority said they might quit their job if they felt their employers’ COVID-19 prevention measures were inadequate. 

Here are our top four takeaways from the survey:

#1 Employees are concerned that safety precautions are not enforced and not effective 

For employees who have returned to the workplace, 42% say they’ve experienced preventive measures that were either ineffective or not enforced, including six-foot distancing measures (25%), mask requirements (21%), and handwashing requirements (18%). While many employees are still working from home, a fifth (20%) have returned to the workplace in some capacity, and nearly 2 in 5 (39%) never stopped working on-site.

#2 Proximity to sick coworkers and privacy concerns top the list of workplace worries

When in their workplace, employees are most concerned about not knowing if someone sick arrives (40%), there are too many people in the workplace at once (31%), and being indoors without proper ventilation (24%). 

Despite these concerns, employees don’t want employers to overstep their bounds when it comes to privacy. 37% of employees report they would consider a job switch over privacy concerns, including if their employer sent personal information without privacy measures taken (28%) or asked for personal health information that they weren’t comfortable sharing (21%). Millennials (42%) and Gen Xers (40%) are more likely to consider leaving over privacy concerns than Boomers (27%), showing that younger employees are more likely to be disturbed by intrusive behavior.

#3 Return to work sentiment exposes workplace class divisions

When it comes to sentiment around returning to the workplace, we noticed some disparities between blue and white-collar professionals. Professionals in construction or manufacturing are more likely not to be confident that their co-workers will follow safe workplace procedures (64%) than those in business or tech services (52%). Professionals in business or tech services said they are more likely to consider leaving their job (84%) than those in industries such as construction or manufacturing (71%) and retail or service industry (67%). In our reading, this suggests that many workers don’t have the luxury to consider leaving their job. 

#4 People want to return to their workplace

Even with these concerns, an overwhelming majority of employees (90%) miss the workplace and want to spend at least one day a week in their office (94%). Many people have enjoyed the flexibility of working remotely but miss the perks that come with being in an office: the proximity to colleagues, small talk at the water cooler, and of course, lunch and snacks.   

Employees want to return to their workplace—in some fashion. To give them the confidence to return to work, employers will need to prioritize employees’ health and safety. Officially out of beta and full of new features, integrations, and partnerships, Envoy Protect can help you and your employees stay safe and healthy. Start using Envoy Protect today.  

About the Survey

The Envoy Return to Work Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 U.S. full and part-time employees ages 18+ between August 27th and September 1st, 2020, using an email invitation and an online survey. The data was weighted to ensure an accurate representation of full-time & part-time employees in the U.S., ages 18+.