Workforce issues across 27 countries

Coming soon: Our country-by-country breakdown of two massive surveys—one of 2,700 employees, the other of 2,700 executives. These country fact sheets will touch on the major themes of our research program, including:

  • Millennial myths
  • Employee benefits and incentives
  • Talent and skills
  • Leadership
  • Learning and development

Workforce issues are increasingly global, but there are meaningful variances by country. Look out for our fact sheets with the global launch of the research program next month.


The enduring debate over paid family leave

Paid family leave is a major discussion point among companies around the world. Last week, we talked about Japan’s plan to boost women’s participation in the workforce by expanding daycare options and encouraging companies to put women in leadership positions, and we’ve also discussed paternity leave in the UK and President Obama’s support for family-friendly leave policies.

While most articles point out the disadvantages of US policies toward maternity leave—it’s the only developed country that does not mandate that companies offer paid leave—a recent article from The New York Times argues that this may not be a total loss for women. In the US, women are just as likely as men to be in leadership positions; in Europe, women are half as likely as men to be managers, perhaps due to the possibility that companies discriminate against women who they fear might take long paid leaves of absence.

The article suggests that neither the US nor Europe has figured out how much paid maternity and paternity leave companies should offer. And even companies who come up with successful plans will have to modify them over time to keep up with changing cultural expectations.

2020 Workforce news roundup

How technology is bridging the gap between HR and marketing (The Guardian): As the digital world makes top customers into brand promoters, University College London professor Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic argues that companies should consider making their best customers—those who fit the company culture and are experienced brand ambassadors—part of their team.

AI, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs (Pew Research Internet Project): According to the 2014 Future of the Internet canvassing (that is, an “opt in” survey for expert technology builders and analysts), many experts think rapid advancements in AI and robotics could have a huge impact on the future of work—and that our education and political systems are not prepared for these potential changes.

Companies With Happy Employees Have Stocks That Beat The Market (Business Insider): A new study from the Wharton School and Warwick Business School has found that companies with higher employee satisfaction rates often have better stock returns.

Canadians more educated, less suited to their jobs (CTV News): According to a new study from Workopolis, many Canadians are spending more time in school but working in jobs unrelated to their training.

Japan moves to increase women’s participation in labor force

In an effort to improve the economy, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has a plan to increase the number of mothers who return to work after giving birth by 55% over the next five years, according to this article from the Washington Post.

Today, just 38% of women in Japan return to the workforce after the birth of their first child. A number of reasons contribute to this lack of participation, including a cultural expectation to work very long hours, a tax system that punishes households with two working adults, and a shortage of daycare options.

To boost participation in the workforce, the Prime Minster plans to put more women in leadership positions and expand the country’s child-care systems. The greater challenge, however, will be changing the country’s mindset about the role of women in society.

Millennial myths

Results of our employee survey show that many of the conventional beliefs about younger workers may not be true. Millennials—who made up half of employee survey respondents—are thought to care more than older workers about making a positive difference in the world through their work, achieving work/life balance, and leaving for their next job—none of which may be accurate. It isn’t that Millennials don’t care about these things—it’s that other workers care just as much.

But Millennials do need to be managed differently in terms of feedback and development. Nearly one-third say they expect more feedback than they currently receive, and without the advantage of having many years’ worth of contacts, they rely on mentoring and development at work instead of outside the organization.

Accommodating Millennials’ desire for more feedback and development opportunities would not just satisfy Millennials—it would help push companies forward and prepare for the workforce of the future.

2020 Workforce news roundup

Debunking the myth that jerk bosses get results (FastCompany): Bosses like Steve Jobs and Gordon Ramsey earned notoriety for their harsh treatment of employees—and plaudits for getting results. This article argues that such leaders are successful in spite of, not because of, their attitudes.

The skills leaders need at every level (Harvard Business Review): When HBR asked 332,860 bosses, peers, and subordinates what skills are most important to a leader’s success, the top qualities were very consistent, suggesting that the core competencies required of leaders do not change as they move up the corporate ladder. Developing those traits throughout your career, and always preparing for the skills you’ll need at the next level, may be a key to success.

Employees using social media before making any career move (The Economic Times): A new Kelly Services report says that employees are increasingly using social media to learn specifics about companies, including workplace conditions and reputation, before putting in applications.

Millennials at Work: Young and Callow, Like Their Parents (The New York Times): Many think that Millennials are unprepared, lazy, and difficult to manage—but that doesn’t make them any different from the generations that preceded them.