Professionals More Worried About Economic Fallout than Threat of Illness Due to Pandemic, According to Korn Ferry Survey


Half are Surprised the Pandemic is Still at Critical Stage; Only 20 Percent Are Following Through on Vacation Plans

As the world continues to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, professionals in a new Korn Ferry survey weigh in on their biggest concerns.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents (61 percent) say they are more worried about the economic fallout from the virus than the health risks.

The situation is also putting a strain on relationships, as more than half of professionals (55 percent) say concerns about work during the pandemic have caused friction with their family members.

Nearly half (48 percent) say they are surprised the pandemic is still at a critical stage, and it is taking a toll. Sixty percent say it is more difficult to concentrate at work now than it was at the beginning of the crisis. When asked why it is difficult to concentrate, 45 percent say they are dealing with too many responsibilities, and nearly a third (31 percent) say they feel overwhelmed with the pandemic and the issues surrounding it. A change in the work environment is not the issue - only 9 percent say working from home is the top reason they find it difficult to concentrate.

“With all of the social unrest, health concerns, and economic issues being thrown at us right now, it’s no surprise many feel overwhelmed,” said Dennis Baltzley, Korn Ferry’s global solution head for leadership development. “A key job of the company is to understand where employees are – are they safe? Are they engaged even if working remotely? More than ever it’s critical to project empathy and listen carefully to help people navigate the crisis.”

Despite a slowing of business in many industries, more than two-thirds of respondents

(67 percent) say they personally are busier at work now than they were pre-pandemic.

Most are not going to take a break from their job. Only 20 percent say they are going to take a vacation, with 35 percent saying they are staying home because there is no place to go. Only 17 percent say they are foregoing a vacation because they are worried about catching the virus.

“It is difficult to stay fully engaged at work over extended periods of time, even when there is so much going on at home, on the job and in the world,” said Baltzley. “Yet, even if employees don’t take lengthy vacations, they must find ways to disconnect and relax in order to recharge and be productive.”

About the survey

The Korn Ferry survey of 1,064 professionals took place in late July 2020.

Survey responses

Is it more difficult to concentrate on your work now than it was at the start of the pandemic?

It was more difficult to concentrate as this was all starting                            40 percent

It is more difficult to concentrate now                                                             60 percent

If you find it hard to concentrate at work, what’s the top reason?

Dealing with too many responsibilities                                                            45 percent

Working remotely makes it hard to concentrate                                              9 percent

My priorities have shifted to factors outside work                                          15 percent

I feel overwhelmed by the pandemic and issues surrounding it                    31 percent

Are you more busy at work now or pre-pandemic?

Now                                                                                                                 67 percent

Pre-pandemic                                                                                                 33 percent

Compared to the beginning of the pandemic, how often do you take calls with the video turned on?

Much more often                                                                                             48 percent

Somewhat more often                                                                                    22 percent

Somewhat less often                                                                                      14 percent

Much less often                                                                                              16 percent

What worries you more, the economic fallout of the pandemic or the risk to your health?

Economic fallout                                                                                             61 percent

Health risk                                                                                                       39 percent

Have your concerns about work during the pandemic caused friction with your family?

Yes to a great extent                                                                                        9 percent

Yes to some extent                                                                                         46 percent

No                                                                                                                   45 percent

Are you putting off a vacation? If so what’s the top reason why?

Yes, I worry about my job                                                                               14 percent

Yes, there’s no place to go                                                                             35 percent

Yes, I’m worried I will catch the virus                                                             17 percent

Yes, I’m worried about money                                                                       14 percent

No, I’m still taking my vacation                                                                       20 percent

How surprised are you that the pandemic is still at a critical stage?

Extremely surprised                                                                                        12 percent

Somewhat surprised                                                                                       36 percent

Somewhat unsurprised                                                                                   22 percent

Not surprised at all                                                                                          30 percent

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We work with clients to design their organizational structures, roles and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward, develop and motivate their workforce. And, we help professionals navigate and advance their careers.

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