Exhibiting sound ethical and cultural practices significantly influences an employer's recruitment and retention efforts, according to a new study by the management services company ADP.
ADP's annual People at Work study outlines the workforce trends of more than 32,000 workers across 17 countries. The 2022 report showed that 76 percent of employees would consider seeking new employment if they discovered an unfair gender pay gap or the lack of a diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) policy within their company.
"This employee sentiment is quickly surfacing to the top as a make-or-break issue among workers," said Nela Richardson, ADP's chief economist.
Women were slightly more likely than men to say they would consider new employment if their companies lacked gender pay equity or a DE&I policy, the report indicated. Generation Z employees were more likely than other age demographics to say they'd search for a new job if they made this discovery.
"No longer are workers who are directly impacted the only ones willing to change," Richardson added. "Employees are increasingly placing importance on these factors and, therefore, employers risk putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage if they fail to take company culture seriously."
Half of the surveyed workers said their company has shown improvements in gender pay equity, and nearly 50 percent of employees believed their employer's DE&I efforts have improved over the last three years.
How Flexibility Influences DE&I
The ADP survey found that salary was the most important factor in a job. But at least half of workers indicated that they'd accept a pay cut in exchange for better work/life balance or more workplace flexibility.
Seventy-one percent of workers said they prefer more flexibility at work, such as condensing hours into a four-day workweek, and 64 percent of employees would consider looking for a new job if forced to return to the workplace full time instead of being able to work remotely.
"There's been a seismic shift in worker sentiment over the last two years following the start of the pandemic," Richardson said. "Flexibility in hours worked has become an emergent priority."
Companies nationwide are making greater efforts to enhance flexibility. And increased remote work has been key to achieving this goal. Data scientists for the online job search website Ladders projected that 25 percent of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022, and remote opportunities will continue to rise through 2023.
Jamie Grasso, director of corporate citizenship for the payroll and software company Paylocity, said that in the past few years employees have gained a more significant voice in the business strategies and decisions employers make, as evidenced by the Great Resignation.
"[The Great Resignation] demonstrated to businesses that if you don't give your employees flexibility and choice, they'll simply leave," Grasso said.
Workplace flexibility can also help organizations further their DE&I efforts. For example, many workers who are physically disabled no longer had to navigate public transit or crowded sidewalks when companies went fully remote during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But many organizations are requiring all employees to return to the office, which puts those who have a physical disability at a disadvantage. It also adds stress to working parents, who might need to rely on day care to physically return to work.
"Taking that choice away from these employees and demanding a return to the office won't just get you a resignation letter in 2022," Grasso explained. "It also demonstrates a lack of awareness on the part of the organization."
Creating a Well-Rounded Team
About 2 in 3 workers felt that there is an equal mix of ethnicities (64 percent) and genders (63 percent) in their companies, the ADP report indicated. However, just 37 percent believed that disabilities are equally represented.
Alana Elston, chief people officer at the architecture, engineering and construction firm McKissack & McKissack in Washington, D.C., said organizations should recognize that prioritizing DE&I creates a well-rounded team positioned to drive better decision-making, foster fresh and unique perspectives, and improve creativity.
"As a result of this focus on inclusion, not only are companies giving all voices a seat at the table, but [they are] also seeing benefits of well-rounded perspectives and a collaborative approach that ultimately strengthens culture—all of which are highly valued in the workplace," Elston said.
The ADP results show that many employees are cognizant of the rampant inequality in the world today, Grasso said. The survey should serve as a wake-up call for companies to implement or improve their DE&I strategies.
"Employers and workers collectively placing a renewed focus on [diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility] efforts isn't the solution," Grasso explained. "But it's a great first step in the long journey to creating more equitable outcomes."