August 13, 2020
Three quarters of UK employees (74 percent) trust their employer to create a physically safe workplace and generally healthy work environment and the vast majority (92 percent) of employees are at least “a little” comfortable with contact tracing led by their employer for the purpose of organisational safety. This is according to a new survey Kronos Incorporated of 3,903 employees across 10 countries.
The survey, conducted by Workplace Intelligence asked employed adults across Australia and New Zealand, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Netherlands, U.K., and U.S, and helps to debunk a misconception around COVID-19 contact tracing that suggests employee privacy concerns outweigh safety concerns. In fact, the vast majority of employees surveyed globally (86 percent) are comfortable to varying degrees with employer-led contact tracing, which, combined with education and transparent communication, may be the key to setting a risk-adverse workforce at ease.
While public narrative suggests that U.K. workers have been somewhat cautious around privacy concerns relating to contact tracing, the research discovered that, in fact, almost half of U.K. workers (46 percent) say they are “very” or “a great deal” comfortable with a workforce management approach to contact tracing, i.e., allowing their employer to use their work schedule records to identify and manage employees who may have been exposed to the virus at work and to help prevent onward transmission. Only 8 percent of U.K. respondents are “not at all” comfortable with this approach to contact tracing in the workplace.
Similarly, 71 percent of all workers in the U.K. stated that they are at least “somewhat” comfortable with their employer leveraging their mobile phone device for organisational safety, with 22 percent being “very” comfortable and 14 percent being “a great deal” comfortable. When asked about leveraging mobiles for the purpose of wider public safety outside of the workplace, more than three quarters of U.K. respondents (76 percent) are at least “somewhat” comfortable with their mobile carrier leveraging their mobile device for contact tracing.
Europeans are less trusting than their North American counterparts
Generationally, younger Millennials and Gen Zers1 consistently report greater comfortability with all forms of contact tracing than do their generational counterparts with at least one third (70 percent) of the younger generations in the U.K. trusting all forms of contact tracing. However, contrary to popular belief, at least 60 percent of the elder generation globally – baby boomers – are at least somewhat comfortable with contact tracing practices.
The research also found that the workforce has high expectations for their employers to create environments that are as safe as possible. Despite the vast majority of employees in the U.K. stating that they trust their employer to create a physically safe and healthy work environment (74 percent), Europeans are less trusting than their North American counterparts, with 67 percent in Germany, 63 percent in France, and 63 percent in the Netherlands in agreement versus 80 percent in Canada, 80 percent in Mexico, and 76 percent in the U.S. Part-time employees are also slightly less confident in having a physically safe and healthy work environment (68 percent) compared to full-time employees (77 percent) worldwide.
“Employees have demonstrated that they do have safety concerns in the workplace, but generally trust their employer to take care of them,” said Gregg Gordon, vice president, industry, Kronos. “This should signal to employers that they have a responsibility to step up and employ all methods necessary to protect workers physically and mentally during COVID-19, regardless of whether employees have worked all through the pandemic, have recently come back to the workplace, or won’t be brought back for another few months.
“As the data shows, employer-driven methods of contact tracing are not unwanted among the workforce, though education and transparent communication cannot be overlooked when introducing new policies or protocols related to organisational safety.”