For the last two decades, we have used our annual Workmonitor research to help employers understand the needs of the global workforce. Today, it’s one of the largest surveys of its kind.

But it didn’t start out that way. Randstad launched Workmonitor in 2003 as a quarterly report to understand what mattered to workers in the Netherlands. Coming out of a recession, job security and work-life balance were notable concerns in 2004, something that rings true today. In fact, looking back over the last 20 years reveals that, although sentiments shift and trends come and go, listening to what talent wants continues to help organizations succeed.

Workmonitor in 2010. 2020 and 2022
Workmonitor in 2010. 2020 and 2022

Here are some notable trends through the years:

game-changing technology challenges the workplace

A big shift in how people work came in 2007 with the introduction of the iphone. In fact, that same year overtime became the norm. Just a few years later, social media use took off and by 2011 talent and businesses began to use it to vet candidates. That next year, the role of the internet divided the workplace by age as well as role. Yet by 2016 our report saw demands for more training so the workforce could keep up. The good news is, employers listened. In fact, by our 2020 report 79 percent of respondents felt they were well equipped to do their jobs digitally. However, these advances in technology triggered an ‘always on’ culture.

market volatility determines sentiment

The 2007 financial crisis and the resulting hiring and wage pause shook respondents’ confidence in 2008. Mass layoffs the following year added to their worries. However, market corrections in our 2010 report saw the return of work-life balance as a priority to the global workforce, signaling a return of employee confidence. Today, economic uncertainty and increased inflation once again have job security top of mind in our 2023 report.

gen Z shakes things up

By 2013, optimism about the economy prevailed but the job market became harder for the youngest and oldest age groups. The next year, age divisions became even more prevalent as Gen Z entered the workforce, bringing a new mindset and expectations. In 2017, this mindset leads to a rise in entrepreneurism. However, older generations chime in 2015, with retirement age a hot topic for the aging population.

a desire for flexibility remains

Since the beginning, the push for flexibility has been top of mind for our respondents. In economically stable times such as 2004 and again in 2010, they expressed the importance of the value of work-life balance. As this sentiment grew in popularity, our 2018 report revealed that the demand for flexibility began to meet resistance from employers. However, by 2020, circumstances took a sharp turn with the start of the COVID 19 pandemic. That year, remote work blurred the work and home divide, making a healthy balance difficult for many. By 2021, employees revealed they were rethinking their relationship with work and in 2022 talent took the lead in demanding work-life balance as well as aligned values.

workmonitor at 20

Our 20th report reveals that talent today wants the complete package: secure, flexible, inclusive and financially stable employment in a place they feel like they belong. They are emerging from the upheaval of the last few years with a greater interest in learning and development as well as personal well-being. However, the economy is unsteady and the cost of living prohibitive for many. Naturally, people are concerned about their future. However, along with their desire for stability, they also remain committed to flexibility.

our 2023 report reveals 5 key insights worth exploring:

  • People are empowered by work-life balance
  • They are turning to their employers for support
  • Security remains top of mind
  • Older workers are returning to the workforce
  • People want to belong

To take a closer look at what our latest findings reveal about today’s global workforce – and learn how to best meet their needs – in our 2023 Workmonitor report.