The four most important topics among employees around the world in 2020 are the environment, flexible working, well-being, and diversity and inclusion, according to employee success platform Peakon. In its latest employee expectations report, the company analyzed over 14 million comments from its employee survey data gathered over preceding years, and found that discussions around these four topics had risen significantly year-on-year.
Concerns about environmental impact
Comments about environmental issues around the world increased by a whopping 52 percent in 2019, with plastic, single-use, and carbon footprint being the top three topics discussed. Some of this may be due to a sharp increase in awareness, driven by highly publicized events such as Greta Thunberg’s UN speech or extensive awareness drives such as the World Wide Fund for Nature’s ongoing “Plastic Diet” campaign. Notably, comments on climate change skyrocketed by nearly 600 percent in the manufacturing sector, possibly because manufacturing is seeing the most immediate impact in the form of material costs.
A desire for greater diversity and inclusion
Comments related to inclusive workplaces went up by 19 percent globally last year, against the backdrop of a stubbornly wide gender pay gap and resistance among the world’s richest companies to having women and minorities among the senior management. The education sector stands out with an increase of 43 percent, possibly because educators, being responsible for inculcating young people with the values of the future, find greater cause for concern and discussion than employees in other sectors, who may be more inclined to put their heads down and not make waves.
A desire for flexible and remote work
Comments about flexible work went up by 18 percent, and when broken down by sector, the transportation industry had the most to say about it: 52 percent. This is a curious finding, given that remote work is all but impossible in the transportation industry. However, it’s possible that the rise of the gig economy and the independence allowed by arrangements such as ride-share contracts has made employees in this sector more interested in finding similar, more forgiving scheduling arrangements for themselves.
Concerns about physical and mental well-being
Comments related to physical and mental well-being increased 17 percent in 2019, the same year that the World Health Organization officially declared burnout to be a medical diagnosis. And again, one particular sector had the most to say: this time, the finance sector, which has long been notorious for punishing hours, high stress, and a lack of mental health support.
What does all this mean for employers?
Today's workforce is no longer contented to take their pay, sit down, and shut up. Their priorities are changing, compelled by a volatile and uncertain world and driven by greater awareness of what is truly important in life. Employers need to understand this, and keep pace with their people's demands: the future workplace is not just about money and technology, after all, but about the people who are the reason for the money and technology in the first place.