How Continued Global Crisis Is Affecting Employee Satisfaction

Continued global crisis – the pandemic, European war, inflation, and political upheaval – has caused employees to take a heightened focus on their financial security and emotional well-being rather than on climbing the economic ladder within their places of employment. “During the pandemic, organizations led with empathy and prioritized health and flexibility,” said Adam Pressman, Mercer’s U.S. employee research leader. “But 2022 has brought new challenges—inflation, labor shortages, a war in Ukraine and more.” This is a significant change to what we observed in 2021, where engagement from employees was increased due to employers’ improved support through better communication, focusing on health and safety, allowing greater flexibility, and leading with empathy. But, with what now feels like to most people a prolonged international crisis, new stressors and fears are rising to the surface and causing employees to feel less of this support. The Great Resignation is taking its toll: work life balance remains a top concern, the average employee would likely state that they feel exhausted on a typical day, and inflation has skyrocketed.  

These, in addition to many others, have been contributing to the burnout and dissatisfaction employees are beginning to feel. Compensation, benefits, and career goals are the top areas of disappointment. The Mercer “Inside Employees’ Minds 2022” study observed an eight-point drop in employee satisfaction since last year. ” In 2022, employees value a workplace that centers on well-being, where they have more-sustainable workloads and more resources to support their holistic health—financial, physical, and mental,” said Lauren Mason, senior principal for Mercer’s career business practice. “We see this as a defining moment, a new contract between employers and employees. Employers who adopt this lifestyle contract will gain a committed and productive workforce and be an employer of choice in today’s job market.”  

The study also observed what workers’ top financial concerns where in 2022. The comparison to 2021 is striking, with covering monthly expenses jumping from #9 to #1. This is significant, especially because the concern it replaced from 2021, physical health and fitness, is less essential. Retirement has also become a more pressing concern, whether that means the ability to retire earlier or simply being able to retire at all. Work life balance is still a top 3 concern, as workers continue to experience burnout from the effects of the labor shortage. Employees’ needs have become more serious, and employers need to respond to that appropriately. Adjusting to the improvements made in 2021 to better match the needs of 2022 is a great place to start.