CGS Survey Finds Companies Are Struggling to Support Deskless Workers through the Ongoing Pandemic Disruptions

Companies must rethink their approach to employee development to ensure retention and satisfaction

NEW YORK, Nov. 19, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- CGS, a global provider of business applications, enterprise learning and outsourcing services, today announced new insights from its 2020 Deskless Workforce Learning and Development Satisfaction Survey. These “deskless workers” do most of their professional work in the field, away from a desk and are often on the go, spanning industries such as construction & engineering, healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, education, hospitality and retail. With COVID-19 continuing to upend businesses globally, employers must re-examine their approach to developing and training this essential workforce.

In 2020, companies evolved and shifted much of their businesses to address the pandemic. The recent KPMG 2020 CEO Outlook found that a majority of the CEOs surveyed are changing their strategic response to the pandemic because they were personally affected. To understand how employees were feeling about businesses’ response to this crisis, CGS surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. deskless workers as to their day-to-day training needs, access to collaboration tools and safety concerns.

Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of respondents said they were satisfied with their employers’ investments in health and safety training. Yet, there were several areas related to training and development where employers could improve their approach. Key findings include:

Employers fell flat in providing wellness programs and crisis resolution
Many companies embraced remote work for the first time in March. To support this transition, one-third of survey respondents said that they received new digital learning and/or collaboration tools, such as augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR), from their employers. However, only 12 percent received mentorship or wellness sessions and even fewer (10 percent) had access to conflict resolution or management training. For those individuals employed in the retail industry, nearly half (42 percent) said they did not receive any tools or training. Given the recent national uptick in COVID-19 cases, it is even more crucial that employers develop a plan to support their employees’ emotional needs and personal development.

Increasing workloads may push retail, education and manufacturing employees out the door
More than half (52 percent) of respondents claimed that their job responsibilities and workloads increased during the pandemic, stemming mostly from staffing changes, increased demand and new work policies. Many stated they are prepared to leave their job once the pandemic ends. Retail workers are the least confident about committing to their current employers, with 53 percent stating they would remain in their current roles. In education and manufacturing, nearly one-quarter (24 percent) plan to change jobs, careers or retire. Offering relief from the increased demand will be essential to retaining talent, especially in industries such as retail where turnover rates are often high.

Companies have lagged in addressing day-to-day job training needs
As leaders position their businesses for long-term growth and prosperity, they must reconsider their commitment to day-to-day job training needs: More than 30 percent of survey respondents in the education field said they are somewhat or very dissatisfied with their employers’ investments in day-to-day job training, while 20 percent of telecommunications employees are very dissatisfied. Further to that, nearly one-third of technology employees saw no new investments in day-to-day job training. Organizations will need to re-prioritize programs that deploy continuous feedback and solutions to support training in remote environments.

“This disrupted market requires transforming the business-as-usual strategy – from health and safety of employees to offering next-generation technology for the remote workforce – to ensure continual success and future growth,” said Phil Friedman, president and CEO, CGS. “As our survey demonstrates, no industry was left untouched by this crisis and today’s limited face-to-face staff interactions could be indefinite. This means business leaders must reposition their plans, including recruiting, training and arming employees with the tools to keep them safe and informed to deliver best-in-class customer service.”

“In 2021, companies looking to maintain a competitive edge and retain talent will need to provide workers with more than traditional Learning programs as their workforce navigates the year ahead,” said Doug Stephen, president, Learning division, CGS. “The deskless workforce includes frontline employees who require new, crucial tools and skills to address today’s evolving workplace. Many organizations will need to strengthen their Learning programs to bring their staff immediate and immersive access to information for greater efficiency, increased safety and improved knowledge transfer among workers.”

The CGS Enterprise Learning Group serves as a trusted partner to many of the world’s most dynamic companies, delivering innovative, custom learning solutions essential to scaling people, processes and performance. Through tech-forward engaging programs, leveraging AI, AR/VR, machine learning and gamification, CGS provides professional development solutions, blending emerging technology with essential, virtual shoulder-to-shoulder training. Each solution is custom-tailored and designed to engage employees and keep clients’ employee-related business fundamentals strong in an ever-changing corporate environment.  

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About CGS

For 35 years, CGS has enabled global enterprises, regional companies and government agencies to drive breakthrough performance through business applications, enterprise learning and outsourcing services. CGS is wholly focused on creating comprehensive solutions that meet clients' complex, multi-dimensional needs and support clients' most fundamental business activities. Headquartered in New York City, CGS has offices across North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter at @CGSinc and @LearningCGS and on LinkedIn.

Media contact:
Susan Sweeney, CGS

Kate Connors (for CGS)