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Study reveals stress and financial woes facing workers

Many employees are increasingly feeling cash-strapped as inflation continues to impact their ability to spend, according to a survey of Irish workers by PwC.

The proportion of the Irish respondents who said that they are able to pay all the bills and have money left over for savings, holidays etc at the end of the month has fallen to 35% from 40% last year.

The 2023 Hopes and Fears Workforce survey details the attitudes and behaviours of 1,000 Irish workers and nearly 54,000 global workers in 46 countries.

It reveals that nearly one in ten now work in multiple jobs, with the majority doing so because they need additional income.

It also found that the economic squeeze is driving up pay demands, with 38% of Irish workers planning to ask for a pay rise, up from 32% last year.

“With 23% of workers feeling their workload unmanageable, additionally navigating societal, political and economic instability places a significant mental and emotional strain on workers’ health and wellbeing,” said Laoise Mullane, Director, PwC Ireland, Workforce.

“Burnout should be a concern for organisations and efforts should be made to support employees in taking proactive steps to address this.”

She added that there is an opportunity for organisations to transform their total reward offerings, with the aim of enhancing total wellness.

“By aligning reward offerings to physical, emotional, mental, social, career and financial wellness that can be tailored to the needs of each individual, organisations can attract and retain the talent they need now and in the future,” she said.

Employees are not on board for transformation

Leaders continue to guide their organisations through extremely turbulent times, but necessary organisational reinvention and transformation efforts will fail without the cohesive support and energy of all employees, PwC said.

One in five (20%) of Irish respondents are of the view that if their employer continues on its current path, their organisation will not be in business in ten years time.

This compares with a global figure of 31%.

The report finds that if organisations are to navigate complex and ever-evolving external challenges, leaders must reevaluate their strategies and transform their organisations.

The survey reveals that workers are more likely to leave in the next 12 months if they believe that their company won’t survive a decade without transforming.

The survey indicates that talent retention continues to be a major challenge. Over one in five (22%) Irish workers confirmed that they will change jobs in the next 12 months, up slightly from 21% last year. This compares with 26% globally this year, and 19% last year.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of Irish respondents said that they are struggling to pay or cannot pay the bills, up from 11% last year. Only 36% feel that they are fairly financially rewarded for the work they do in comparison to 42% globally.

At the same time, 23% said that they are overworked which is similar to the global figure of 22%.

The survey also highlights that 62% of Irish employees work in a hybrid model, up from 43% last year. Globally, 54% of employees work in a hybrid model.

An opportunity to unlock talent through a skills-first approach

The survey highlights that the skills needed for the future could be sitting within the organisation, but these skills are not being used or not known to leadership, according to PwC.

It highlights a disconnect between the employer and employee understanding of the skills needed in the future. Worryingly, only 26% of responding Irish workers agreed that the skills needed to succeed in their job will significantly change over the next five years.

PwC said it is great to see that over half of those surveyed proactively seek new opportunities to develop skills. With workers eager and willing to learn new skills, leaders should take the opportunity to invest in their people and build the skills needed to succeed.

At the same time, only 53% of Irish respondents are confident that their employer will provide them with the required tools, resources and opportunities to build the skills required in the future with global counterparts doing more.

Less than half feel that their employer provides them with the opportunity to apply the skills that they already possess. Over a third (37%) have skills that are not clear from their CVs, job history or job titles indicating that companies may be overlooking talent.

The most important skills in the next five years, according to Irish respondents, are adaptability/flexibility (75%), critical thinking (72%), collaborative skills (69%) and leadership skills (64%).

Only 30% of the Irish workforce see strengthening their green skills over the next five years to be of real importance, 9% lower than the global average.

Gerard McDonough, Partner, PwC Ireland, Workforce, said “Organisations have the opportunity to move to a skills-first approach and unlock the potential of their existing talent. And with workers eager and willing to learn new skills, leaders should take the opportunity to invest in their people and build the skills needed to succeed.

“Leadership is needed now more than ever to retain talent, while also recruiting those with the human skills necessary to weather any storm. Business leaders must listen to their people today if they are to create a viable workforce of the future, for tomorrow.”

Artificial Intelligence

The survey highlights mixed views on the impact of AI on future careers, with 29% of workers saying they do not think AI will impact their job over the next five years.

At the same time, they also appreciate the benefits of AI technology, with 20% stating that it will create opportunities to learn valuable new skills and 22% saying that AI will help increase their productivity and efficiency at work. .

However, one in ten said that AI will replace their role altogether in the next 5 years. Just 16% said that AI will create new job opportunities for them.

Globally, the survey reveals stark demographic disparities in employee attitudes towards AI. Younger generations are much more likely to expect AI to impact their careers across all of the surveyed impacts, both positive and negative, whereas a little over one-third of Baby Boomers think AI will not impact their careers, only 14% of Gen Z and 17% of Millennials agree.

Mr McDonough said, “In a world where generative AI is here, business leaders have a way to go to increase the awareness and understanding of the impact transformative technologies will have on their workforce. This starts with leaders themselves having a clear view of the impacts and the skills needed for the future of work and communicating this in a meaningful way.”

“Where business leaders know they need to transform their businesses to succeed, they need to combine the benefits of technology with a plan to unlock the talents of all workers. Workers are optimistic, they are willing to learn the skills needed, leaders need to engage and empower them.”

Article Source: Study reveals stress and financial woes facing workers – Petula Martyn – RTE

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