PwC’s Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022: five ways Irish private businesses can react positively

Amid the backdrop of the great resignation, it is unsurprising that employee empowerment is the central emerging theme in this year’s Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey, Irish Report 2022.

The survey’s insightful results illustrate that today’s workforce is very focused on areas such as fair pay, hybrid work, meaningful work, the ability “to be oneself” at work and wellbeing.

Here are five ways Irish private businesses can respond to the survey’s findings and use them to their advantage.

1. Offer competitive pay

Unsurprisingly, given the increased cost of living facing individuals today, salaries were identified as a significant issue for most survey respondents. The majority plan to ask for a pay rise (over 60% of respondents) and one in five respondents are extremely likely, or very likely, to find a new job in the next 12 months.

Employers in the private business sector may feel that they are at a competitive disadvantage and perhaps that, compared to listed companies, they have fewer opportunities to incentivise employees with rewards such as employee share schemes. Private businesses should instead look to other rewards that only they can offer.

It is imperative that private businesses review their pay scales and ensure that they offer competitive salaries and benefits. This is an important factor in both attracting and retaining top talent.

2. Capitalise on hybrid working

Historically, private businesses may have struggled to attract employees because of their geographical location. Remote work in many cases has eased this problem by removing the need for employees to be in the office five days per week. In the survey, hybrid workers are most satisfied with their work and 52% of Irish respondents prefer a mix of in-person and remote work.

The ability to flex to the needs of your employees is proving to be a winning formula, and hybrid working will assist private businesses in attracting top talent from outside their geographical area. Communicating this hybrid proposition clearly and routinely to employees can set private businesses apart from competitors.

3. Demonstrate the meaning and purpose at the heart of your business

Employees want to work in an environment where they can be their true, authentic selves. Respondents ranked job fulfilment and an ability to be one’s true self at work as a top issue when considering their current work environment. 73% of Irish employees said that finding their job fulfilling was an important factor when considering a change in work environment.

There is often a sense of collective purpose in working for a company with tradition, history and a defined role in the local community. Private businesses tend to have longer-serving employees and in some cases, several generations have worked in the business. This strong local community anchor can be used to differentiate and empower employees to express their authentic selves.

4. Commit to an open, transparent culture

This year’s survey results also show that Irish employees value meaningful engagement. However, only 24% of respondents felt that their companies provide support for them to work effectively with people who share different views.

This is a disappointing result that represents a missed opportunity for some employers. Private business leaders are encouraged to facilitate an open and transparent culture and to provide both time and space for discussions—particularly when it comes to sensitive topics.

Lead by example in your communications and demonstrate consistently that you welcome these open discussions.

5. Seize ESG opportunities now

Employees value working in an organisation where environmental, social and governance (ESG) is identified as a key priority. Acting on environmental concerns is an area of concern for employees, with only 18% of respondents stating that their company helps minimise the environmental impact of their job.

ESG can be a real area of differentiation for private businesses. Listed companies are obliged to embrace ESG against the backdrop of reporting requirements. However, without the pressure of being held to account on ESG initiatives, private companies risk falling behind. Indeed, employees are demanding that companies look beyond financial performance to broader ESG commitments.


It is imperative that Irish private businesses enhance their workforce strategies to attract and retain key talent. They must also tailor their strategies to the unique needs of their workers.

In particular, private business leaders should:

  • align their purpose and trust agenda

  • create the right environment for employees to address social and political issues

  • commit to pay transparency

  • double down on ESG commitments

  • invest in leadership development to address the needs of today’s employee

We are here to help you

As Irish private businesses compete with listed and larger companies to attract key talent, private business leaders must play to their strengths. Our study has placed us in a unique position to help you harness this strength and ensure that you succeed in this evolving climate. We are ready to help you as you face the future. Contact us today.

Contact us

Colm O'Callaghan

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 87 776 1711

Gerard McDonough

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 87 224 1517

Claire Shanahan

Director, Tax, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

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