The Great Enlightenment

Randstad finds significant numbers of worker on the hunt for something better

Randstad’s latest Workmonitor — one of the largest global workforce surveys of its kind, with 27,000 participants across 34 markets — has found that more than half (56 per cent) of global workers are on a job hunt, with 30 per cent actively looking and a quarter (26 per cent) recently changing jobs. These figures show that the post-pandemic recovery is prompting workers to reconsider what they want out of their lives and careers — a movement that Randstad brands as the ‘Great Enlightenment.’


Twice a year, the Workmonitor study takes a litmus test on the views of the global workforce. Its latest iteration has found that many workers are feeling undervalued, with nearly two-thirds (60 per cent) across the globe having not been promoted and fewer than a fifth (17 per cent) receiving an increase in their salary after being promoted.


For workers across the globe, the pandemic has provided a new sense of clarity over their personal and professional lives. ‘The Great Enlightenment’ and post-pandemic recovery have given them the confidence to act on it. The research finds that:


  • Half (49 per cent) say they are more stressed since the pandemic and will need to make changes to their work life.
  • Over two-thirds (67 per cent) feel empowered by the pandemic to make changes to their work/life balance.
  • Three-quarters (72 per cent) have more clarity over professional goals since the pandemic.
  • Three-quarters (76 per cent) want more flexibility in their job and career as a result of the pandemic.


As they’ve watched those around them join the Great Resignation, half (51 per cent) of workers say they are considering career changes. Most (54 per cent) also feel undervalued and plan to look for another job with better pay and benefits. This is especially true for younger workers, with two-thirds (62 per cent) of those age 25 to 34 feeling this.


“The pandemic has changed the game,” says Jacques van den Broek, CEO of Randstad. “This data shows workers across the globe are more self-aware, know what they want and are acting on it. And the mood music has shifted for them. The employment market has changed from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market, and workers are taking advantage.


“Employers and policymakers should see this as a moment to take a step back and reevaluate how they will deliver on this new social contract,” van den Broek adds. “For employers, offering a competitive wage is simply table stakes. They must consider how to bolster the benefits package – offering more flexibility or remote working – and whether employees can make work fit around their personal and family life. During this time of exceptional workforce fluidity, this is a crucial moment to step up to the challenge and meet the new expectations of employees in the war for talent.”


The latest data shows that there continues to be a high level of interest in career change. In the Asia Pacific region, nearly 40 per cent say they are looking for a new job, while only one-quarter are doing so in northwestern Europe. Workers in Asia Pacific also changed jobs at a higher rate than any other region. Those in northwestern Europe, similarly, showed the least amount of movement in the second half of 2021.


The Workmonitor study looked at the reasons behind individuals across the globe seeking change. The issue of stress is the most common for those in the Asia Pacific region, with two-thirds (63 per cent) feeling this way, and stress is also motivating change for those in Latin America (53 per cent). This is compared to only 2 in 5 (39 per cent) of respondents in northwestern Europe.


Workers are also seeking more flexibility, with a large proportion (85 per cent) of those in the Asia Pacific region wanting more job and career flexibility as a result of the pandemic, along with those in Latin America (87 per cent). This is compared to just 65 per cent in northwestern Europe. On making changes to work/life balance, a similar pattern is seen. Those in Asia Pacific and Latin America feel most empowered and workers in northwestern Europe least so.


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