Globally, 75% of workers have expressed a preference to work for organisations that will make a 'positive contribution to society.'

According to a new survey by PwC which polled 32,500 workers in 19 countries, this feeling was especially acute in China (87%), India (90%), and South Africa (90%).

However, with the pandemic causing economic insecurity, people's ability to pursue purpose-driven careers have been limited, with younger people particularly affected.

When forced to choose between income and making a difference, 54% of those polled said they would prefer a job that enabled them to 'take every opportunity to maximise their income' over a job that 'makes a difference' (46%).

Among the younger generation (aged between 18 and 34), 57% said they would prioritise 'maximising their income' over 'making a difference' (43%), a margin of 14 points. 

Whereas, those over 55 and 65 were more likely to prioritise making a difference - by a margin of 8 points and 22 points respectively.

Peter Brown, Joint Global Leader of PwC's People and Organization Practice, said: "As the world continues to grapple with a global health crisis and economic uncertainty, we've seen workers come to demand more from the business community, expecting their employers to make a positive contribution to society. Fortunately, focusing on societal impact and maximising profit are not mutually exclusive, and being a purpose-led business can actually help boost your bottom line."

With jobs at risk, workers embrace skill development to stay relevant

The survey also found that with the pandemic accelerating workforce trends, 60% are worried that automation is putting many jobs at risk; 48% believe 'traditional employment won't be around in the future' and 39% think it is likely that their job will be obsolete within 5 years.

Looking on the bright side, 40% of workers say their digital skills have been improved through the prolonged period of lockdown, and claim they'll continue to embrace training and skill development.

Further, 77% have said they were 'ready to learn new skills or completely re-train', with 74% see training as a matter of personal responsibility. And, 80% are confident they can adapt to new technologies entering their workplace, with a large majority of those asked in India (69%) and in South Africa (66%) saying they are 'very' confident.

In addition, 49% of respondents are focused on building entrepreneurial skills with an interest in setting up their own business.

50% missed out on career advancement or training due to discrimination

The survey also found that 50% of workers said they've faced discrimination at work which led to them missing out on career advancement or training.

Workers reported missing out on opportunities due to their ethnicity (13%), gender (14%), and class (13%). Women were twice as likely to report gender discrimination as men, and post-graduates and others with higher qualifications more likely to report prejudice. Younger people are as likely as older people to report discrimination based on age.

To make things worse, discrimination also caused disparities in access to upskilling opportunities. 

While 46% of people with postgraduate degrees say their employer gives them many opportunities to improve their digital skills, just 28% of people with school-leaver qualifications say the same. Industries like retail or transport, which are most at risk of disruption, score just 25% and 20% respectively; while banking scores 42%.

"If current patterns in access to training persist, upskilling will increase social inequality when it should be doing precisely the opposite," said Bhushan Sethi, Joint Global Leader of PwC's People and Organization Practice. "Government and business leaders need to work together to intensify efforts to ensure people in the most-at risk industries and groups get the opportunities they need. Automation and technological disruption are inevitable, but we can control whether its negative effects are managed or not."

Employees want to work remotely, but are torn on privacy and technology

By now, it's clear that remote working will persist post-lockdown.

Of those who can work remotely, 72% said they prefer a mixture of in-person and remote working, with only 9% stating they'd like to go back to their traditional work environment full-time. This is particularly true of professionals, office workers, business owners and the self-employed, all of whom are able to perform their jobs remotely using technology.

Working from home need not be limited to professional jobs. 43% of manual workers and 45% of semi-skilled workers say there are many elements of their job that they are able to do remotely.

The survey noted, people's attitudes to working from home also change by location, with those in metropolitan areas (66%) being more likely to work in roles that could allow remote working than those who live in rural areas (44%).

One of the key concerns employers have with remote working is employee productivity, and how to measure it. 

PwC found that 44% of workers globally would agree to let their employer use technology to monitor their performance at work including sensors and wearable devices, while 31% were against it.

However, many would not go as far as allowing their employers access to their personal data. 41% of respondents said that they were unwilling to give their employer access to their personal data including social media profiles, with only 35% willing.

Photo / 123RF

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