Most want to return to the workplace, but have concerns

A new study indicates 73% of U.S. employees worry returning to the workplace could pose a risk to their personal health and safety

When COVID-19 struck, many employees were sent home to work remotely. As companies navigate returns to the workplace, employees have significant concerns.

“Seventy-three percent of U.S. employees fear a return to the workplace could pose a risk to their personal health and safety,” according to Protecting the Workplace, a just-released study from Envoy, a workplace technology platform. Despite those fears, a resounding 94% say they would like to return at least part of the time.

Almost one in five parents say they miss going to work as a way to be away from their children. While 21% say they miss the workplace as a way to have a break from a spouse or partner.

Personal Health and Safety Over Job

Despite the overwhelming desire to be back in the workplace, at least part-time, 75% of those surveyed say, they “would consider quitting their job if they felt their employers’ actions to prevent COVID-19 were inadequate or inappropriate.” Concerns include employers downplaying the risks of COVID-19 and not enforcing the wearing of masks.

“Of employees who have returned to the workplace, 42% say they’ve experienced preventive measures that were either ineffective or not enforced,” according to the study.

Forty percent of workers are concerned about not knowing if a co-worker is ill, says the study. “At the same time, employers can’t afford to overstep their bounds, with 37% of employees reporting they would consider a job switch over privacy concerns,” notes the study.

Health and Safety Fears Differ by Industry

The findings indicate that the level of concern varies according to industry. “Those who work in blue collar professions such as construction or manufacturing (64%) are more likely to not be very confident that their co-workers will follow safe workplace procedures than those in business or tech services (52%).”

The study cites the ability to consider leaving a job also depends upon the industry. “Eighty-four percent in business or tech services are more likely to consider leaving their job than those in industries such as construction or manufacturing (71%), and retail or service industry (67%).”

“In order for companies to reopen safely and quickly, they’ll need to adopt technologies that create a more dynamic and responsive workplace that meets the needs of its workers, so that employees can return to the office confidently,” says Larry Gadea, Envoy founder
and CEO.

The Envoy study surveyed 1,000 U.S. full- and part-time employees ages 18 and older between August 27 and September 1.