The covid-19 pandemic has reshaped the US employment landscape in drastic and long lasting ways. A variety of pre-existing trends affecting organisations and workers have been accelerated by the historic crisis: digital transformation, remote work and automation, to name a few. The new normal that emerges from the pandemic has profound implications for how and where work gets done, and—more fundamentally—how organisations and workers relate to each other. To remain competitive, organisations will need to skillfully navigate both near-term business challenges and longer-term talent, technology and workplace culture issues.
To understand how the pandemic has affected workers and organisations, and surface important sector-specific and broader trends, Economist Impact, sponsored by Prudential, surveyed more than 5,800 US workers and executives in late 2020. Respondents were in five key industry verticals: healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, the public sector and unions. Complementing the Recovery, Resilience and the Road Ahead report, which summarises the overall findings from the survey, this playbook presents key findings for specific industry verticals, insights gleaned from expert interviews, and discusses their implications for organisations moving forward. While revealing cross-vertical trends, it sheds light on unique or prominent findings in specific verticals.
- Overall, many workers said their wellbeing had improved in various ways during the pandemic. However, the survey has revealed its disproportionate impact on certain groups, including older workers and women. These disparities, particularly seen in the healthcare and public sector verticals, with high levels of their workforce deemed essential to critical social and physical infrastructure, incites a deeper observation.
- Covid-19 has been a multidimensional public health and economic crisis. Health and safety concerns have been significant among essential workers, but the survey results make clear that financial concerns remained prominent. In that vein we have observed verticals—across the board—fall short of providing or raising awareness of tools and resources to address this need.
- While digital transformation has become an urgent requirement during the pandemic, rather than a business goal for organisations, executives are increasing investments in new technologies, as well as grappling with disproportionate digital divides, evident in the public sector and manufacturing. Competition for information technology talent will also intensify, especially in the financial services sector.
- The unpredictable disruptions presented by covid-19 have underscored the importance of stability for workers on edge and exhausted. For some, the crisis has highlighted how unions empower members to advocate for their wellbeing and safety, exemplified by the investments seen in the public sector. Accordingly, there may be a lesson there for organisations across all sectors as they emerge, transformed in a number of ways, from the pandemic: an empowered workforce can also be more engaged and resilient.