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Quick Takes

Increased Productivity Among Employees Takes a Toll on Mental Well-Being

Source: The Conference Board

Almost half of U.S. companies surveyed reported growth in productivity among their employees during the coronavirus pandemic — a 24% increase in the number of companies compared to April. Sixty percent of companies surveyed believe employees are working longer hours, according to The Conference Board, which surveyed over 300 U.S. companies in September. 

However, 42% of organizations note an increase in employee burnouts, 46% of organizations note a decrease in work-life balance for their employees and 40% of organizations note an increase in mental health problems. The report says that business leaders are questioning the long-term sustainability of these new working practices. “Managers should be more aware of and proactively limit the number of hours their employees are working.”

As remote work continues indefinitely, some business leaders are looking for new ways to support their employees’ well-being to help lower the likelihood of burnout by encouraging vacation time, offering benefits that are relevant to our new way of working and implementing quiet time throughout the workday. 

2020 Was a Record-Breaking Year for Electric Car Sales

Source: International Energy Agency (IEA)

Last year, electric car sales in Europe more than doubled over 2019 levels — increasing 135% year-over-year. Europe and China — the drivers of the electric car market in 2020 — accounted for about 1.3 million sales last year, according to IEA. Japan and Australia were the only large markets that saw a higher drop in electric car sales than overall car sales.

Although pandemic-related lockdowns impacted electric car sales at first, early indicators showed market resilience — such as policy support, increased purchase incentives, lower battery costs, newer technology and interest from electric car buyers. IEA estimates show that 2020 was “a record-breaking year for electric mobility,” surpassing three million sales worldwide.

Multiple countries announced plans to phase out internal combustion vehicles to align with net-zero emissions by 2050. To do so, the share of electric vehicles in global sales must climb to around 50% by 2030. Major vehicle companies are getting on board. For instance, Ford announced its plan to target an “all-electric” offering for vehicles in Europe by 2030. 

 

Public in Rich Nations Feel Optimistic About Future Crisis Responses

Source: Pew Research Center

The majority of respondents in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and France feel optimistic about future public health emergency strategies from their government, according to Pew Research Center. 

Nearly eight-in-10 respondents said Germany has handled the coronavirus pandemic successfully. Despite their optimism, the American public reported a 6% drop in approval rating for their country’s response to COVID-19 from June to November. Ideology and the current status of the economy played a major role in how respondents rated their country’s response to the coronavirus.

As countries around the world ponder how to ramp up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, few respondents found it acceptable for their government to implement mandatory vaccination measures. The U.K., which had the third-highest vaccination rate worldwide, was the only exception, with 60% of respondents stating they would accept a vaccination program. Pew found that trust in national government is associated with more acceptance of a government-required program.

Trust in Businesses Rose During COVID-19 Crisis

Source: Edelman Trust Barometer

Trust in businesses grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, and business remains one of the public’s most trusted institutions, according to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer. However, public trust declined in most industries — with technology, fashion, professional services and automotive seeing the most significant reversals. 

Since business is more trusted than the government and media, 86% of the public now expect CEOs to take the lead in addressing societal issues — such as the pandemic’s impact, job automation and local community challenges. 

COVID-19 has added to the public’s personal and societal fears, with many worried about the future of the workforce. For example, the majority of Trust Barometer respondents are alarmed by the rate at which companies could replace human talent with artificial intelligence.

ESG Issues Are Getting More Attention From Directors

Source: Global Network of Director Institutes (GNDI), 2020-2021

Over 60% of global business directors surveyed said that COVID-19 accelerated their focus on ESG, sustainability and stakeholder value issues. Out of 2,000 respondents, the majority agreed that risk-scenario planning and decision-making needs to involve outside experts, according to the latest GNDI survey.

This increased interest in ESG values correlated with other highly ranked trends throughout the survey. For instance, 63% of directors expect COVID-19 to increase the competition for talent. Past surveys showed how companies with better ESG performance are likely to have both better employee engagement and greater attractiveness to prospective talent. Over half of respondents also believe there will be a growing emphasis on corporate purpose and board diversity. 

Just 17% of directors surveyed were satisfied with their response and ability to provide oversight during the pandemic. Although directors can learn from their response, they can also work with their management teams to prepare for future workforce changes — social and economic. By doing this, companies will be more equipped to absorb the shocks from these risks.

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