Safety and reward top priorities during Covid-19 recovery

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Employee safety, reward and recognition are set to be employers’ top areas of focus as they recover from the Covid-19 crisis and establish more digtal working practices.

One of the major themes to emerge from research conducted by the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work and Oxford Economics was that employees are no longer seen simply as “resources”. Instead, organisations want to meet demand for greater inclusion in the workplace and prevent the use of technology in “consolidating the rewards of work into the hands of the few”.

Of the 4,000 C-suite and senior executives and that took part in their global survey which spanned 23 countries, 59% say they want to pay more attention to workforce safety, 58% want to value and pay essential workers more, and 43% want to cut high executive salaries.

Fifty-two per cent agree that Covid-19 has accelerated the shift towards digital working practices, but 43% acknowledge that it has been harder to collaborate across teams and departments.

The work ahead: digital first (to last) report concludes that employees want “meaning” from jobs and recommends that organisations use intelligent algorithms to take repetitive tasks off of workers’ plates, which would allow them to spend their time on work that creates value.

It also notes that employees will want better rates of pay, new mechanisms to tie reward to performance, and new upskilling and career models to help them stay engaged and remain at an organisation.

Technology must also become a “partner” in work. Business leaders should challenge people on how they see it changing their work over the next decade, the report says, as developments in artificial intelligence, 5G communications and blockchain will allow workers to become more productive, creative and resilient.

Euan Davis, associate vice president, Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work, EMEA, comments: “Over the course of this year, we have seen how Covid-19 has exposed the pre-existing condition of many organisations around the world: They were pre-digital enterprises, unfit for purpose in the modern world, holding on by their fingertips by custom and inertia.

“As 2021 begins, and enterprises around the world attempt to chart a course for the post-pandemic era, one thing is certain: Digital competency is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather, an absolute necessity.

“Businesses need to be confident in their ability to integrate machines into existing business processes, but also forge lasting partnerships between humans and machines. Technology will undoubtedly play a massive role in every organisation’s future success, and flexible, data-intensive, and digitally oriented ways of working will be indispensable for weathering what is expected to be a global recession.”

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