U.S. Worker Confidence Index™ Tumbles to Biggest Decline Ever as COVID-19 Impact on the Workplace Began to Hit in Q2 2020

Young woman at her desk displaying a concept of loss and declinePHILADELPHIA, PA – Following a small decrease during the first three months of the year, COVID-19 precipitated in Q2 2020 the biggest quarter-over-quarter decline in the six-year history of the national Worker Confidence Index™ (WCI), a survey of U.S. workers from HRO Today Magazine and Yoh, the leading international talent and outsourcing company owned by Day & Zimmermann. The Index gauges full-time workers’ perceptions of the four key aspects of worker confidence: the perceived likelihood of job loss, the perceived likelihood of a promotion, the perceived likelihood of a raise, and the perceived overall trust in company leadership.


In the second quarter of 2020, the WCI fell by a record 18.8 points to 93.6. This marked the third consecutive quarter of decline and the lowest point the Index has reached in four years. Since the beginning of 2020, the WCI has dropped by a combined total of 23.1 points amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For the quarter, all four of the indices that comprise the WCI declined, with the likelihood of a promotion decreasing the most, down 21.3 points to 93.5, the lowest on record. Perceived job security fell nearly as much, dipping to 80.6 in Q2 2020 from 98.3 in Q1 2020. On a monthly basis, all four indices bottomed out in the month of May, with all but the trust in company leadership Index dropping under the baseline of 100 points.


“As the U.S. moves forward in the COVID-19 world, companies will likely have more challenges knowing when to hire workers back, engaging them during these slow and uncertain times, and keeping key positions filled as talent in critical areas is still stretched thin,” said Kathleen King, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Solutions, Yoh.


“And while many businesses are finding that remote work can be done without much reduction in worker productivity, it will be incumbent on leaders to monitor worker satisfaction and confidence more than ever as the lack of face-to-face connection will no doubt continue for some time.”


Other takeaways:


  • Decline in worker confidence shown most among Black Americans.
    Worker Confidence of Black Americans fell 31.3 points in Q2 2020, three times the decline of Whites or Hispanics. Nearly one-quarter (22.1%) of Black Americans felt it likely they could lose their job in the next 12 months, up 8.1 percentage points since 1Q 2020, and nearly twice the increase of White Americans. Only 21.6% of Black respondents felt a promotion was likely in the next 12 months, and while that was above the rate of White Americans, the 9.0 percentage point decline from the prior quarter was three times that of White or Hispanic respondents. Likewise, the belief in the likelihood of a raise fell by 11.9 percentage points in the quarter, six times more than other races.


  • Despite economic downturn, trust in company leadership remains relatively steady.The only component of the WCI that went against the trend of steep confidence declines in both the first and second quarters was trust in company leadership. In Q2, the index fell by 3.8 points to 108.1, which was the smallest decrease of all the sub-indices on a quarter-over-quarter basis. On a monthly basis, the Trust Index remained comparatively strong, dipping to a low of 102.2 in May, but then rebounding to 108.7 in June.


  • On a month-by-month basis, May was the quarter’s worst month, with June actually showing some rebound potential.Looking at results by each month in 2020 to date, the impact of COVID-19 is most visibly seen within the second quarter of the year, the months of April through June. While the declines were most pronounced in April, each index bottomed out in the month of May,when the pandemic’s impact was most pronounced nationally. In the month of June, all the indices rebounded as many states began to roll out reopening plans.


HRO Today Yoh Workers Confidence Index


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