Irish 2023 Hopes and Fears Workforce survey

By Steven Galvin - Last update

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PwC Ireland has released its Irish 2023 Hopes and Fears Workforce survey which details the attitudes and behaviours of 1,000 Irish workers and nearly 54,000 global workers in 46 countries.

PwC Ireland is the largest professional services firm in the country.

Employees are not on board for transformation

Leaders continue to guide their organisations through extremely turbulent times, but necessary organisational reinvention and transformation efforts will fail without the cohesive support and energy of all your people. One in five (20%) of Irish respondents are of the view that if their employer continues on its current path, their organisation will not be in business in ten years time (Global: 31%). If organisations are to navigate complex and ever-evolving external challenges, leaders must reevaluate their strategies and transform their organisations.

Confidence in business longevity has an impact on retention: The survey reveals that workers are more likely to leave in the next 12 months if they believe that their company won’t survive a decade without transforming. The survey indicates that talent retention continues to be a major challenge. Over one in five (22%) responding Irish workers confirmed that  they will change jobs in the next 12 months, up slightly from 21% last year (Global 2023: 26%; 2022: 19%).

Nearly a quarter (23%) of Irish respondents said that they are struggling to pay or cannot pay the bills, up from 11% last year (Global: 2023: 18%; 2022: 12%). Only 36% feel that they are fairly financially rewarded for the work they do in comparison to 42% globally.

At the same time, 23% said that they are overworked (Global: 22%).

The survey also highlights that 62% of Irish employees work in a hybrid model, up from 43% last year (Global: 2023: 54%; 2022: 56%).

A stressed and financially struggling workforce

In Ireland, like global counterparts, many employees are increasingly feeling cash-strapped as inflationary challenges continue to impact workforce wallets. The proportion of the Irish respondents who said that they are able to pay all the bills and have money left over for savings, holidays etc at the end of the month has fallen to 35% from 40% last year (Global: 2023: 38%; 2022: 47%). Nearly one in ten (9%) now work in multiple jobs (Global: 21%), with the majority doing so because they need additional income.

The economic squeeze is also driving up pay demands, with 38% of Irish workers planning to ask for a pay rise, up from 32% last year (Global 2023: 42%; 2022: 35%).

Laoise Mullane, Director, PwC Ireland, Workforce, said: “With 23% of workers feeling their workload unmanageable, additionally navigating societal, political and economic instability places a significant mental and emotional strain on workers’ health and wellbeing. Burnout should be a concern for organisations and efforts should be made to support employees in taking proactive steps to address this.”

“There is an opportunity for organisations to transform their total reward offerings, with the aim of enhancing total wellness. By aligning reward offerings to physical, emotional, mental, social, career and financial wellness that can be tailored to the needs of each individual, organisations can attract and retain the talent they need now and in the future.”

An opportunity to unlock talent through a skills-first approach 

The survey highlights that the skills needed for the future could be sitting within the organisation, but these skills are not being used or not known to leadership.

The survey highlights a disconnect between the employer and employee understanding of the skills needed in the future. Worryingly, only 26% of responding Irish workers agreed that the skills needed to succeed in their job will significantly change over the next five years.

It is great to see that over half of those surveyed proactively seek new opportunities to develop skills. With workers eager and willing to learn new skills, leaders should take the opportunity to invest in their people and build the skills needed to succeed.

At the same time, only 53% of Irish respondents are confident that their employer will provide them with the required tools, resources and opportunities to build the skills required in the future with global counterparts doing more (Global: 57%).  Less than half (43%) feel that their employer provides them with the opportunity to apply the skills that they already possess (Global: 48%). Over a third (37%) have skills that are not clear from their CVs, job history or job titles (Global: 35%) indicating that companies may be overlooking talent.

The most important skills in the next five years, according to Irish respondents, are: adaptability/flexibility (75%), critical thinking (72%), collaborative skills (69%) and leadership skills (64%). Only 30% of the Irish workforce see strengthening their green skills over the next five years to be of real importance, 9% lower than the global average.

Gerard McDonough, Partner, PwC Ireland, Workforce, said “Organisations have the opportunity to move to a skills-first approach and unlock the potential of their existing talent. And with workers eager and willing to learn new skills, leaders should take the opportunity to invest in their people and build the skills needed to succeed.

“Leadership is needed now more than ever to retain talent, while also recruiting those with the human skills necessary to weather any storm. Business leaders must listen to their people today if they are to create a viable workforce of the future, for tomorrow.”

More to do to get the organisational culture right 

Creating and sustaining an organisational culture that navigates rapid global change, leads people through crises and promotes an innovative and engaged workforce requires focused effort aligned with strategic transformation goals. Less than half (45%) of responding Irish employees said that they find their job fulfilling (Global: 50%). Only one in two (50%) said that they can truly be themselves at work (Global: 53%).

At the same time, only one in four (42%) responding Irish workers agreed that their manager considers their viewpoint when making decisions (Global: 45%). Less than half (47%) said that their manager is open and transparent about the decisions they make (Global: 49%). Less than six out of ten (55%) feel that their manager treats them and their colleagues fairly and equitably (Global: 52%). Only 42% of Irish employees feel they can choose how they do their work in a way that suits them despite the large shift to hybrid working (Global: 47%).

Less than half (48%) said that they recommend their organisation as a good place to work (Global: 51%).

Laoise Mullane, Director, PwC Ireland, Workforce, said: “With the ongoing high living costs, we see a workforce that wants to be fairly rewarded, along with more meaning from their work. In the current environment, where skills gaps appear to be widening, efforts to retain talent are failing, and more employees than ever are financially struggling — the power of the workforce and culture becomes more important than ever.

“Addressing these needs will be critical as leaders seek to transform their workplaces enabling business model reinvention, profitable growth and job creation. Evaluating and upskilling people based on what they can do in the future, rather than solely what they have demonstrated in the past can deliver sustainable economic, business and societal outcomes.”

“Having a diverse range of talented employees brings the potential for great innovation to an organisation. This requires a culture that fosters creativity and supports failure in the pursuit of success.”

Lack of understanding of exactly what the impact of AI will be – global workers see greater benefits 

The survey highlights mixed views on the impact of AI on future careers. Shockingly, 29% of responding Irish workers do not think AI will impact their job over the next five years (Global: 22%).

At the same time, they also appreciate the benefits of AI technology, with 20% of Irish respondents stating that it will create opportunities to learn valuable new skills and 22% saying that AI will help increase their productivity/efficiency at work (Global: 31%).

However, one in ten (10%) said that AI will replace their role altogether in the next 5 years (Global: 13%). Just 16% said that AI will create new job opportunities for them (Global: 21%).

Globally, the survey also reveals stark demographic disparities in employee attitudes towards AI. Younger generations are much more likely to expect AI to impact their careers across all of the surveyed impacts, both positive and negative, whereas a little over one-third (34%) of Baby Boomers think AI will not impact their careers, only 14% of Gen Z and 17% of Millennials agree.

Gerard McDonough, Partner, PwC Ireland People & Organisation, concluded: “In a world where generative AI is here, business leaders have a way to go to increase the awareness and understanding of the impact transformative technologies will have on their workforce. This starts with leaders themselves having a clear view of the impacts and the skills needed for the future of work and communicating this in a meaningful way.”

“Where business leaders know they need to transform their businesses to succeed, they need to combine the benefits of technology with a plan to unlock the talents of all workers. Workers are optimistic, they are willing to learn the skills needed, leaders need to engage and empower them.”

Steven Galvin

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