Survey: NC workers lose confidence in return to work amid pandemic

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- It appears that for most workers in our state, just throwing on a mask and heading back to the office isn't going to cut it.

According to a survey by career website LinkedIn, North Carolina workers' confidence in safety at the office has fallen significantly in recent months..

"If workers are worried about their safety in the workplace, they're just not going to be as effective or efficient or as safe as they should be," said professor Greg Brown from UNC's Keenan-Flagler Business School.

He believes the workforce confidence survey--which shows a 10-point drop in our state from May to June--is directly related to COVID-19 cases. "I wasn't surprised the North Carolina worker confidence numbers were not great because we continue to see increases in cases in North Carolina, and states around North Carolina were also exploding at the same time," Brown said.

Of the 12 most populous states in the country, three others, Virginia, Texas and Georgia also saw worker confidence drop.

However, only Georgia saw more of a decline in survey scores than North Carolina.

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Brown said loss of confidence is a clear message that bosses need to reach out to employees.

"The most important thing they can do is be completely transparent about the work that they're doing," he said. "Hopefully employers are being very careful about the policies and procedures that they put in place. They need to communicate that to workers so that workers understand that employers are looking out for them."

Conversely, he said, workers should tell their boss about any worries they may have.

Brown also noted that though COVID-19 cases haven't spiked in North Carolina, he said he won't be surprised if the workforce confidence index is low in North Carolina again when the July numbers are released.

"Despite the decline in cases and hospitalizations that we've seen the last couple of weeks, the level of cases is still very high," Brown said. "So I think that level of high cases is going to cause workers to continue to be concerned about what the workplace holds for them in terms of safety."

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And if workers are given an ultimatum and forced back to the office, Brown expects their work product will inevitably suffer.
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