2021 Forecast of Workplace Trends

Willis Towers Watson revealed employer priorities in their report, Flexible Work and Rewards Survey: 2021 Design and Budget Priorities, conducted in October. Workplace flexibility, organizational resilience and agility all rank high for focus in the new year.

Less than half of organizations (48%) say they are effective at retaining critical talent (employees and contingent workers) with needed technology skills. And only 19% think their current job architecture and job leveling process supports developing a flexible and agile workforce to a very great extent.

If you could use help attracting and keeping critical talent, and sustaining an agile workforce, get in touch with one of our consultative account managers today.

Highlights from the survey:

  • 59% of workers are currently telecommuting/working from home, and organizations expect over half of their workers (52%) to be doing so through the first quarter of 2021

  • 49% of organizations indicate new work requirements necessitate a hybrid reward model, which for some organizations may include paying employees based on where they are located geographically

  • 57% expect reductions in real estate expenses and 36% anticipate a decrease in commuting expenses over the next three years

  • 91% cite employee safety concerns as the main reason for providing alternative work arrangements; other drivers include promoting employee retention (47%), maintaining or increasing employee engagement (39%), and enhancing productivity (35%)

  • 26% expect to see an increase in allowances and subsidies for working from home in 2021

  • 61% of employers say they will pay fully remote workers the same as in-office employees regardless of a worker’s actual locations for all jobs in 2021; however, over a quarter of employers (26%) report that pay will be based on the location of remote workers for all jobs

  • Only 19% of organizations think their current job architecture and job leveling process supports developing a flexible and agile workforce to a very great extent

  • 54% of organizations indicate they are effective at recognizing the need to create a more agile and flexible workforce

  • Less than half (48%) say they are effective at retaining critical talent (employees and contingent workers) with needed technology skills

  • 38% of employers think their managers are effective at helping workers focus equally on what customers will need tomorrow and what they require today

  • Only about a third of employers (34%) agree that their managers are effective at removing obstacles to doing work with speed and efficiency

  • 29% of employers are providing additional benefits to promote workplace flexibility (e.g., backup daycare, subsidies for daycare or virtual learning)

  • 18% are setting pay levels by first determining the market value of skills and then applying a geographic differential based on where the employee is located.

Source: Willis Towers Watson