Australia: Failing Talent at Every Turn: Global Survey of Senior Executives and Employees Finds Workforce Satisfaction is Plummeting

Australia: Failing Talent at Every Turn: Global Survey of Senior Executives and Employees Finds Workforce Satisfaction is Plummeting

Kelly report discovers some employers are thriving while most struggle to build resilient organisations 

Sydney, Australia (May 4, 2023) — As employers around the world contend with the greatest workforce disruption in generations, a new global report released today by staffing leader Kelly (Nasdaq: KELYA, KELYB) uncovers a striking disconnect between senior executives and talent. The 2023 Kelly Global Re:work Report finds that most organisations are failing to meet the needs of employees and risk erasing progress made during the pandemic. The report identifies resilient organisations thriving amid the disruption, emphasising the importance of building workforce resilience in today's dynamic labour market.

The third consecutive global workforce report from Kelly, titled The Three Pillars of Workforce Resilience, uncovers how businesses are struggling to scale, retain, and develop talent—resulting in lower performance, missed business opportunities, and more disengaged employees. Despite these challenges, some organisations are thriving by focusing on three crucial pillars: workforce agility; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); and workforce capability.

"Now more than ever, employers are struggling to keep up with the evolving needs of talent, and risk falling behind if they don’t bridge the growing divide related to workplace expectations,” said Tammy Browning, senior vice president of Kelly. “As organisations enter a post-pandemic era, those that prioritise building a resilient workforce by focusing on the three pillars will be better equipped to adapt to the future of work and thrive in changing market conditions.”

"We are facing a crucial moment in the labour market, and the findings from our report indicate that many organisations are struggling to keep up with the changing needs of their workforce. It is concerning to see that executives and talent in Australia are not aligned on key issues such as work-life balance, skill development, and career progression opportunities, which could lead to increased turnover and missed business opportunities” says Peter Hamilton, vice president and managing director APAC at KellyOCG. “Building a resilient workforce is not an option but a necessity now. Organisations that prioritise workforce agility, capability and DEI will be better equipped to navigate the dynamic labour market and support the wellbeing and satisfaction of their employees.”

Kelly surveyed 1,500 senior executives and 4,200 talent across 11 countries and nine sectors globally. Key findings from Australia include:

  • Employees are ready to move on—but not for the reasons executives think. Two in five (44%) employees are prepared to leave their employer in the next 12 months due to poor work-life balance, whilst one in four (26%) would consider leaving because of a lack of skill development and career progression opportunities. However, executives believe it’s largely due to compensation.
  • Executives recognise they are not doing enough to meet the needs of their workforce. Fewer than half (44%) of executives say they are doing more to support the wellbeing of employees compared with 12 months ago, while around a quarter (22%) report that employee wellbeing and satisfaction (23%) have decreased over the same period.
  • Many employees do not experience an inclusive workplace. Almost half (43%) of report they have experienced non-inclusive behaviours at their current employer. Surprisingly, 62% of talent who say they are planning to leave their roles within 12 months also report non-inclusive behaviour in their workplace. Almost a third (27%) of say they work in a “psychologically unsafe environment.” 
  • DEI initiatives by corporations have plateaued and may be dropping off – a sign of DEI fatigue. Nearly half of executives (45%) recognise that their DEI strategy does not adequately support underrepresented groups. Shockingly, fewer than one in five (14%) executives say their organisation has a clear route for reporting discrimination at work. Employees are divided, with 46% of talent saying that leaders in their organisation model inclusive behaviours at all times, while the other half (49%) believe their employer does not support DEI enough.
  • An epidemic of “quiet quitting” is underway. Almost half of executives (47%) report they have been affected by “quiet quitting” over the last 12 months. Two in five (40%) of talent have been, or currently are, quietly quitting.
  • Employees see the advantages of automation and aren’t opposed. While a staggering 75% of talent say automation is positive for business performance, 41% also say it has been positive for employees.
  • War on talent shows no sign of abating. Two in five (38%) executives say that they have difficulty sourcing and retaining the right talent which means they are missing critical business opportunities. Employees also believe that businesses are struggling to recruit permanent (21%) and contingent (26%) talent.

The report provides a framework for organisations interested in following the lead of the “Resilience Leaders”—those building workforce resilience and achieving increased employee productivity, customer satisfaction, revenue, and profits over the past 12 months. The Resilience Leaders represent 12% of global executive survey respondents, and they are focusing on the three pillars needed to build a resilient workforce by:

  1. Implementing strategies to build workforce agility. Leading organisations are far more likely than “laggard” organisations to say they are effective at recruiting the contingent talent required to achieve their business objectives (63% versus 30% globally).
  1. Automating repeatable tasks to free up talent for more meaningful work and upskilling opportunities. Workforce Resilience Leaders are ahead of the pack, with 61% successfully automating aspects of their business to improve workforce resilience, versus 33% of laggards globally. 
  1. Keeping their commitments to DEI. Leading firms are more likely than laggard organisations to be focused on building inclusion – by listening to employees’ views (62% versus 33% globally), providing a living wage (70% versus 51% globally), or offering flexible and hybrid work arrangements (55% versus 40% globally). This seems to be paying dividends: they are also more likely to report that employee satisfaction and wellbeing improved over the past year (62% versus 41% globally). 
  1. Prioritising talent development and training. Resilience Leaders are more likely than laggard organisations to have implemented accelerated training programs to quickly upskill talent (75% versus 55% globally) and are also more likely to offer career development programs that enable employees to gain experience in other areas of the business (72% versus 56% globally). 

About the Survey

Kelly surveyed 1,500 senior executives, 50% of whom are in C-suite roles, across 11 countries—Australia, France, Germany, Italy, India, Malaysia, Portugal, Singapore, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States—and 9 industries—life sciences, energy, manufacturing, consumer retail, science (bio and clinical), engineering, tech, financial services, and automotive.

Kelly surveyed 4,200 individuals at all levels of organisations, 62% of whom are in non-managerial positions, across the same 11 countries and 9 industries listed above.

“Laggard” organisations are not building workforce resilience and are more likely to be experiencing decreased employee productivity, customer satisfaction, and profits over the past 12 months (6% of the executive survey sample).