Irish workers lack clarity over post-Covid work practices

Almost two-in-five Irish workers are still awaiting clarity over post-Covid work practices and say there is an information vacuum when it comes to what the future of work will look like.

Irish workers, after 16 months of working from home due to the pandemic, are still awaiting communications from their employers about the post-Covid work environment, according to a study from Irishjobs.ie.

But nearly two-in-five employers say they are still awaiting guidance from public health authorities before communicating long-term plans to staff.

“This lack of clarity is concerning and poses significant challenges for many professionals, and in many cases, undermines their ability to make long-term plans in relation to where they hope to live, rent or buy”

Some 45pc of workers say the resulting lack of communication and clarity is impacting on their ability to plan their personal lives in terms where to rent and where to enroll children in school.

According to the survey, which was carried out among 3,077 employees in Ireland, 38pc of employees have received no update from their employer in relation to long-term working practices. 

A further 25pc attributed this information vacuum to poor internal communications; 20pc said their employers were waiting to see what their industry peers would do and 15pc said they were still consulting with employees on their preferred working model.  

Employee impact

Amongst the cohort of employees that are still awaiting guidance from their employers, 45pc suggested this lack of clarity has made it very difficult to plan ahead in their personal lives. A further 20pc say that it has implications on their living situation, making it difficult to make decisions on where to live, rent or buy long-term. 

Other considerations cited by employees include:

  • It has implications on our children’s child-minding needs (13pc)
  • The lack of clarity is undermining my ability to secure mortgage approval on a new home (5pc)
  • It has implications for where we intend to enrol our children in school (3pc)

Only 36pc of respondents claim the lack of clarity in relation to long-term working arrangements has no impact on their personal lives. 

Hybrid? What hybrid?

The data reveals that nearly half of employers (46pc) have consulted with their staff on their preferred post-Covid working practises and more specifically, on their preferences in relation to remote working, hybrid working and returning to the office on a full-time basis.

However, a further 42pc of employees suggest they have received no formal consultation in relation to long-term working strategies.

Meanwhile the remaining 12pc were unsure what level of consultation had occurred.

“As restrictions begin to ease, many employers now have a decision to make in relation to what they want their post-Covid workplace to look like,” said Orla Moran, general manager of IrishJobs.ie.

“Fundamental to this question is whether they intend to continue to facilitate remote- or hybrid-working or is their intention to get everyone back to the office.  

“Within this decision, there are a multitude of strategic considerations to weigh up, including a corporate’s core business needs, the progression and development of employees, and their ability to recruit and retain the best talent.  Equally, many Irish-based professionals are re-evaluating what they want from their own careers, including where and how they want to work.

“For employers looking to attract and retain talent in the months ahead, clear, consistent and pro-active internal communication should be at the centre of their Covid-response strategies and wider corporate culture.”

Staff retention

Moran warned that the information will have a material impact on staff retention.

“In recent weeks, numerous prominent Irish corporates have publicly committed to a long-term remote- or hybrid working model.  However, according to our data, nearly 40pc of Irish employees are still awaiting clarity in relation to their employer’s post-Covid intentions.

“This lack of clarity is concerning and poses significant challenges for many professionals, and in many cases, undermines their ability to make long-term plans in relation to where they hope to live, rent or buy. By extension, this can have implications for those seeking mortgage approval and families looking to enrol their children in school ahead of the new academic year.  In contrast, employers who take a pro-active approach to engaging with their staff will be rewarded with happier, more productive and committed employees.”

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 28 June 2021

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