Workday, Inc. (NASDAQ: WDAY), a leader in enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources, today released the initial findings of its European Survey “The Employee Outlook: Understanding Employee Sentiment and Priorities Across Europe” that reveals European workers are worried about the impact the pandemic is having on their careers. For some, the abrupt shift to home working means they have lost vital opportunities to gain new responsibilities and skills.

Workday partnered with Yonder Consulting (formerly Populus), a research and strategy consultancy, to conduct the quantitative study across Europe. Yonder surveyed more than 17,000 workers who were below director level and employed by organisations with more than 250 employees in nine European markets.

Key highlights of the survey include:

●  Employees remain positive about leadership through uncertain times, with leaders in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK viewed most favourably by employees

●  Almost half of employees (44%) in the UK, Spain, and Italy report they have missed opportunities to gain new responsibilities and skills

●  Just over a quarter of employees (26%) believe they have lost opportunities to develop their career, including 47% of 18-34 year-olds who are concerned about the impact the pandemic has had on their workplace opportunities

The research also revealed 25% of employees will look to change jobs in the next twelve months, hoping to find better career development, a more interesting role, and improved salary. Only 12% say their desire to change jobs has been driven by their employer’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, however.

Despite pandemic pressures, 30% of employees still believe they will receive a pay rise in the next year, though those from Spain and Italy are least hopeful with only 23% and 18% respectively believing they will be in line for a salary increase. This compares to Sweden where over half of respondents (52%) believe their salary will increase. A competitive salary is the most motivating factor when searching for a new role across all markets, with 54% saying they would not be willing to reduce their salary for more flexible working conditions.

Workday is helping HR leaders across the world to navigate the return to the workplace and lead in this dynamic environment. This includes the ability to evaluate the readiness of the workforce and workplace for reopening based on employee sentiment and eligibility. In addition, organisations can use Workday to personalise the employee experience and provide career development suggestions for every employee, based on knowledge of a worker’s skills and career interests, as well as the skills that are critical to the organisation.

Employees Positive About Leaders

To benchmark employees’ perceptions of the overall performance of their current leaders, the research team conducted a factor analysis. Using the collected data from 13 agreement statements, they were able to unite these different attributes into one metric – The Leadership Index Score. This score acts as a measure of how an employee feels towards the performance of the leadership team within the organisation they currently work for. A score below 100 means that leaders in particular markets are performing below average and a score above 100 means that those leaders are performing above average.

The Leadership Index Score showed leaders in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and the UK were viewed most favourably by employees.


The Leadership Index Score



















In countries where leadership performance was above average (Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, UK) employees were more likely to understand the role they will play in the future of the organisation (65%, 64%, 63% and 62% respectively). Leaders in the UK and the Netherlands were rated the most empathetic by their employees (64% and 65% respectively), while leaders in the Netherlands (55%), Switzerland (54%) and Germany (53%) were considered the best at managing change.

Confidence in Leadership

Around half of leaders are perceived to have managed 2020 well by prioritising employee health and safety (59%) and showing empathy (55%). Almost half of employees (49%) believe their company’s leadership has dealt with change well.

Most employees feel communication from leaders has stayed the same or increased during 2020, particularly those working in the UK (85%) and Italy (88%).

The research paints a largely positive picture of how organisations across Europe have adjusted to the dramatic shift in working patterns necessitated by the pandemic. Despite nearly half of employees (46%) reporting they rarely, if ever, worked from home before 2020, over half claim to be less stressed (53%) and more productive (56%) working from home in 2020.


Almost half of employees have found it challenging to motivate themselves recently. This seems to be driven by factors including:

●  Lack of contact and interaction with colleagues (27%)

●  People missing colleagues (21%)

●  The pandemic making work seem less important (23%)

Those living in the Netherlands are most likely to feel satisfied, productive, and motivated. They also report lower levels of tiredness, along with their German counterparts.

Tools and Training

Although 84% of employees report they can access the information they need and 67% believe they have been provided with enough support while working from home, 66% were given no training in how to work from home effectively.

“While it’s reassuring to see that many business leaders have successfully managed through the unforeseen changes of the pandemic, the real impact will be seen in the way that organisations support employees in the transition to some form of normality as we emerge from lockdown,” said Carolyn Horne, president, EMEA, Workday. “Critically, this should include support for employee development through skills training and the creation of new opportunities, such as virtual learning and internal mobility, which will not only contribute to an organisation’s continued success, but support employee wellbeing.”

It is reassuring to see that many companies and their leaders have managed to adapt to the unique and varied challenges of the last 18 months. The challenges brought on by the pandemic and economic downturn have elevated the role of the CHRO and other people leaders to help CEOs manage employees during a time of crisis and chart a course for the future. The perfect storm of cultural upheaval, employee stress, business challenge and opportunity has created a critical moment for businesses. If they fail to meet it, they risk alienating employees, falling behind technologically and missing opportunities to retain, engage and develop their workforce.

The last year has dramatically accelerated the urgency and importance for organisations to embrace the next big ‘IDEAS’ in human capital management, and address five key areas:

Inclusion and belonging – organisations that are investing in diversity, inclusion, belonging and equity are not only reaping substantial bottom-line benefits, but also outperforming companies. They’re seeing higher rates of innovation by having employees who feel a deep sense of belonging and commitment.

Digital acceleration – digital transformation takes centre stage and is the top priority for business leaders as more employees will continue to work remotely. What’s more, employee support and services will need to be delivered virtually and digitally.

Enabling experiences – creating compelling employee experiences that connect, support, empower and inspire and engage workers in a new and more flexible way of working.

Agile organisation – automating and augmenting work to enhance, elevate and extend expertise of the workforce. This will allow leaders to manage, mitigate and minimise disruption, and redirect and redeploy resources to where they can have the greatest impact and opportunity quickly and effectively.

Skills imperative – build the critical skills and competencies for the organisation by understanding what skills gaps their employees have; effectively integrating learning into employee workflows and experiences; and creating skills development solutions that can scale to meet evolving skills needs.