- According to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Feb. 9, 34.5% of private-sector employers increased telework for some or all of the employees since the start of the pandemic. Among educational services, the information industry, professional and business services and financial activities, more than half of employers embraced telework.
- The pandemic also made a big impact on compensation and benefits. Nearly 15% of private-sector employers increased base wages, with the highest rate of wage increases happening in the accommodation and food service industries (nearly 35%), close to 15% higher than retail, which experienced the second-highest rate of wage increases. In addition, about one-quarter of private-sector employers began offering flexible or staggered work hours.
- The BLS evaluated data collected from more than 82,000 private-sector employers between July 27, 2021, and September 30, 2021.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, trend forecasters and employers have been trying to predict its more permanent impacts on work. By late 2020 and early 2021, many reports showed that remote and hybrid work would be more than just a phase. The BLS data, with its massive pool of respondents, confirms that. Among employers that increased telework, 60.2% expect it to be a permanent change, the survey showed.
Wage increases tend to be a lasting change, so the sudden wage growth for industries like food service and retail may be a new milestone as well. Many workers remain unsatisfied with pay, however, which may be due in part to wages not keeping pace with inflation.
Employers also used other, one-time compensation options, including hazard pay or an hourly bonus (offered by 5.5% of employers) and one-time bonuses for working through the pandemic (offered by 9.4% of employers). These compensation increases for workers likely won't last.
Whether benefits like staggered and flexible work hours will outlast the pandemic remains to be seen, although some experts have predicted that employers have experienced a mindset shift on flexibility and plan to integrate it more permanently into their workplace culture. Companies — particularly those in tech, which tend to be on the forefront of workplace innovation — increasingly embrace the four-day workweek, for example.