How has employee optimism fared in the face of a global pandemic?

29 October 2020

Globally, employees are facing an uncertain present – but how has this impacted their view of the future? Get insights from Volume Two of the ADP Research Institute’s Workforce View 2020, which surveyed 11,000 employees across the world in May 2020. Alongside Volume One of the report, based on results from the beginning of the year, these findings demonstrate key learnings about how the pandemic experience is shaping the attitudes of employees globally.

Understanding how workers feel is crucial to ensuring that HR and payroll strategies are meaningful and relevant. By taking the time to assess attitudes to the future – both long and short term – employers will be better able to help their employees thrive at work, maintain strong company culture, and promote employee engagement.  

Despite the pandemic, positivity persists

At the beginning of the year, optimism amongst workers was high, with 86% stating that they were optimistic about work over the next five years. The situation for most employees across the globe has changed dramatically since then, with some working in ways they never have before due to the move to a digital workforce. Nevertheless, levels of optimism have remained almost consistent. In May, 84% of employees reported feeling optimistic about the same period, suggesting that the pandemic has done little to dampen positivity for the long-term future.

But expectations are lower for the short-term future

When it comes to the more immediate future, employees are less positive. Whilst over four-fifths feel optimistic about the next five years, this figure drops to three-quarters (75%) when workers were asked how they feel about work over the next twelve months. The near-future, it seems, looks far more uncertain – and levels of optimism drop further still the closer it gets to the present. Only two-thirds of workers (66%) across the world feel optimistic about the next six months – a disparity of nearly 20% with those who feel optimistic about the next five years.

The Workforce View explores employees’ attitudes toward the future in greater depth, and numerous other themes, providing a unique barometer of employee experiences and beliefs at a critical moment, mapping how the global pandemic has shaped perspectives across the world.

Read ADP Research Institute’s The Workforce View 2020 Global Research Volumes One and Two by visiting and discover:

  • How employees attitudes have changed during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Which employees feel most optimistic about the future
  • How optimism differs between the short- and long-term future in different geographies