ADP Data Points to Remote Work, Employee Health as 2021 Concerns

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Covid-19’s impact on the workplace is sure to be broad and deep as both employers and workers develop new attitudes toward safety. Organizations, HR departments and HR technology vendors spent much of 2020 pivoting to confront the pandemic and social unrest. ADP, which tracks a wide range of data related to HR activities, sees 2021 shaping up to be something of an extension of this year’s activity.

“As we move into a new year, it is clear businesses are having to accelerate their transformation to adapt to new realities,” said Don Weinstein, ADP’s corporate vice president of global product and technology.

Employers' #HRTech needs of 2021 have been set up by the shenanigans of 2020. Here's how. @ADP #HR #2021 Share on X

Flexibility, diversity, the changing shape of the workplace and employee communication had all been in flux even before the coronavirus and Black Lives Matter collided with business planning and operations this year. The crises of 2020 served to accelerate several movements that were already underway, rather than take the lid off a new Pandora’s Box.

For example, the coronavirus has forced employers to reconsider the viability of remote work as a long-term aspect of their operations. According to the ADP Research Institute, 44% of employers now have official flexible-work policies in place, up from 24% before the virus struck. The number of employer calls for guidance on flexible work and pay options rose by 116% year-over-year, the company said.

Such activity aligns with industry chatter that more employers have accepted the idea of remote work, and dovetails with comments from HR leaders, who say that hiring workers in distant locations is a more realistic option than it was before.

Workplace Safety

Meanwhile, workplace safety has become an overarching issue, for obvious reasons. And health and safety extends to issues beyond infection, such as stress and other mental health issues caused the long tentacles of Covid-19’s impact.

Early on, the Research Institute found that over 40% of workers reported increasing personal stress as they coped with virus concerns, child-care issues and pressure from technical or other work-related glitches. ADP received 40% more calls seeking guidance on paid time off, employee assistance programs and wellness benefits.

As the crisis extended, a significant number of workers adapted, ADP said. More than a third, 37.3% of the participants in its 2020 Global Workforce Study, continued to work as normal during the pandemic, and 26% had returned to work.

Employers prioritized their workforce’s health concerns. Thirty-nine percent of employers with over 1,000 workers said their employees’ health concerns were a top priority, ADP said, adding that such a proportion hints at the workplace’s evolving nature.


ADP expect employers to look for ways to increase diversity, inclusion and transparency. During 2020, the company saw a marked increase in activity related to D&I: For example, the number of employers requesting data on their workforce’s racial and cultural demographics rose by 74%. Searches for information on gender-based demographics increased by 42%. The company also said a notable number of organizations have sought diversity-related consulting help.

Image: iStock

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