57% of employees second-guessing careers during COVID-19 pandemic

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Many workers said they are more motivated to be employed at a company that values its staff during unpredictable times, Robert Half found.

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More than half (57%) of workers said they have experienced a change in their sentiments toward work during the coronavirus pandemic, data from Robert Half found. During such unpredictable times, some 60% of that number said they want to be employed at an organization that values its staff.  

SEE: Top IT certifications to increase your salary (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

COVID-19 has thrown a major wrench in both the enterprise and economy, resulting in millions of furloughs and layoffs. More than 44.2 million US employees have filed for unemployment claims since the start of coronavirus shutdowns, according to Fortune. Those lucky enough to still have jobs have still been impacted, reevaluating their current employment during such trying times. 

“This has been a time of reflection and reprioritization for businesses and people,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half, in a press release.

“Purpose is at the forefront of everyone’s mind right now, and professionals are assessing whether their company’s values align with their own,” McDonald said. “Employers should take this opportunity to reinforce for their teams the organization’s mission and community involvement.”  

Changes in attitude

Of the 57% of employees who have experienced a shift in feelings about their work situation, some 40% said they would prioritize their personal life over their job moving forward. 

Some 33% of those respondents also said they want to pursue a more meaningful or fulfilling position. During an era of great uncertainty, employees appear to be taking this time to look inward, the data found. 

“As businesses focus on the future and when hiring ramps up, workers may begin to explore their options. Continuing to be flexible and responsive to employees’ needs will be critical for retention,” McDonald said in the release.

More employees between ages 25 and 40 (68%) said they experienced a change of perspective during the pandemic than respondents ages 41 to 54 (45%) and 55 and older (40%), indicating that older employees would prefer not making a change in that point in their careers. 

Looking at gender, more women (65%) than men (56%) expressed interest in working for a company that appreciates its employees during chaotic, uncertain times. 

Almost an equal number of working parents (41%) and employees without children (39%) said they wanted to place a greater focus on personal versus professional activities, the report found.  

Employers hoping to keep employees might consider offering more flexible schedules that allowed for windowed work. Other research from Robert Half suggested that this type of schedule is considered a perk for employees, and the majority (73%) reported the arrangement leading to boosted productivity

The enterprise has already been moving toward remote work and flexible schedules, but the pandemic has placed an even greater emphasis on the trends, as shown in the data.

“Whether it’s windowed work or alternative hours, people are happier and more productive if they have control over when—and where—they do their jobs,” McDonald added in a release

“Providing employees with flexibility will be just as important when organizations prepare to reopen and transition back to the office as it has been since the start of the pandemic,” he said. 

For more, check out 15 most in-demand tech skills for upskilling or job searching during COVID-19 on TechRepublic.

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Employees new to working remotely are a security risk

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A workforce that was rushed out of the office due to COVID-19 equates to opportunities for cybercriminals, an IBM report finds.

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Image: Olga Romanova, Getty Images/iStockphoto

An IBM survey of professionals new to working remotely finds those employees pose serious security risks—and it may not be their fault.

The report surveyed more than 2,000 people new to working at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and found that while 80% are confident in their organization’s ability to handle cyberthreats that arise due to remote work, 45% also said that they haven’t received any additional security training since going remote. 

IBM’s study mirrors other findings about the state of cybersecurity during the pandemic, specifically that it’s not keeping up by largely failing to provide security tools necessary to keep remote workers safe.

“The rapid shift to working from home has also changed the ways many organizations do business from moving face-to-face meetings to video conferencing calls to adding new collaboration tools—yet the survey showed many employees are lacking guidance, direction and policies,” IBM said in a statement. 

84% of respondents said they participate in at least one to five virtual meetings a week, and 54% said they were unaware of new policies put in place to protect those calls. 

SEE: Security Awareness and Training policy (TechRepublic Premium)

TechRepublic’s Karen Roby previously spoke to security expert Richard Bird about the biggest concerns involved with working from home, of which Bird listed three: Businesses are having difficulties adapting to the decentralized security needs of a remote workforce, people at home may not behave as safely, and bad actors thrive in uncertainty.

That last point has been backed up by other findings, specifically that data breaches have risen during the COVID-19 shutdown.

A rise in breaches coupled with an unprepared workforce is bad news, and IBM again found that companies may not be preparing their workers: 42% of respondents said they work with personally identifying information (PII) in the course of their day, and 58% said they were unaware of any new security policies around managing such data. 

53% of respondents said they’re using a personal computer to work from home, and an identical percentage said none of the devices they use for work were administered by their employer. These numbers decreased slightly for employees working with PII, but they’re still largely in the same boat. 

SEE: VPN: Picking a provider and troubleshooting tips (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

“Working from home is going to be a long-lasting reality within many organizations, and the security assumptions we once relied on in our traditional offices may not be enough as our workforce transitions to new, less controlled surroundings,” said the head of IBM’s X-Force Red security team, Charles Henderson. “Organizations need to use a risk-based approach with work-from-home models, then reassess and build from the ground up.” 

IBM’s report creates a grim landscape for WFH security, but keep in mind that all of the responses come from employees: It’s entirely possible some may be unaware of new security policies despite their employers trying to make them aware. Emails can be missed, training can be skipped, and there are other ways to fall through the security training cracks when you’re not physically in the office. 

That may not be the case, though: a study from 1Password did find that remote workers were doing their part to stay safe, with 63% of IT leaders surveyed saying users were doing a better job adhering to security policies when working remotely. 

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