The EU has long supported innovation in business and in workplaces. The challenges facing Europe as it emerges from the COVID-19 crisis make the need for innovation more urgent. The NextGenerationEU recovery package requires a reorientation of business activities towards innovation for resilience. Looking to the longer term, policies such as the European Industrial Strategy aim to support the transition to a green and digital economy.
As we leave behind the lockdowns and business disruptions of COVID-19 and enter a ‘new normal’, it is time to talk about how workplaces might be transformed to drive innovation. Some may baulk at this suggestion, as we continue to grapple with the pandemic fallout, but crises have always been a cradle for change, creating a space to reflect on the things that are not working and to find solutions to them. Innovation is critical now as Europe faces into the transition to a green and digital economy. Businesses will have to develop processes, products and business models that are compatible with a climate-neutral future. They will have to digitalise across their operations and outputs, and do so fast to stay abreast of the competition.
Vaccine acceptance is key to the success of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns worldwide. Worryingly, over a quarter of people living in Europe are hesitant about taking a COVID-19 vaccine, and the level of hesitancy is especially high among heavy users of social media. The spread of misinformation on social media is an obstacle to reaching the goal of herd immunity against the coronavirus. Strategies to communicate clear and unbiased political and scientific information are needed to counter the effect of misinformation.
COVID-19 has shown that some things can hit us out of the blue. The pandemic sent a shockwave through businesses all over the world and has brought massive changes to work organisation, internal communication and day-to-day operations for many companies. Doubtless, the depth of the pandemic’s impact on workplaces depended on many factors: the nature of the business, for instance, or the sector of activity. But are there any lessons to be learnt about the factors that helped some organisations to navigate through the crisis more smoothly than others?
With its proposed directive on gender pay transparency, the European Commission has significantly bolstered the set of tools for delivering its objectives compared to those presented in its 2014 Recommendation. The proposed portfolio of measures addresses many shortcomings of the instruments that national authorities currently employ. And while some issues will still require clarification, further reflection or debate during the negotiations, the proposal is a truly European one: it draws on good practice from the policies of different countries rather than taking the approach of just one as a blueprint.
This report summarises how minimum wage rates for 2021 were set during 2020 – the year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. It reviews the difficulties faced by national decision-makers and how they reacted to the challenges of the economic and social fall-out of the pandemic when making decisions regarding the minimum wage. It maps the extent to which minimum wages were referred to in COVID-19-related support measures. It discusses advances made on the EU initiative on adequate minimum wages and maps the reactions of the EU-level social partners and national decision-makers.
Decision-makers approached minimum wage setting for 2021 cautiously due to the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Despite this, nominal statutory minimum wages rose in most Member States and the UK, although at lower rates than in recent years.
The massive and rapid adoption of telework in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 lockdowns exposed gaps in the legislation governing telework arrangements across the EU Member States. In some cases, there was no regulation in place; in others, it was too restrictive. Governments scrambled to put temporary measures in place to cover the emergency situation and the urgent need to enable workers to work from home. Now that the pandemic is receding and wholesale telework seems to be here to stay, governments are faced with the need to properly regulate such arrangements. Member States are following different paths, but the EU might step in to promote some level of standardisation.
The third round of Eurofound's e-survey, fielded in February and March 2021, sheds light on the social and economic situation of people across Europe following nearly a full year of living with COVID-19 restrictions. This report analyses the main findings and tracks ongoing developments and trends across the 27 EU Member States since the survey was first launched in April 2020.
The enormity of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives and work of Europeans is hard to capture, but Eurofound’s priority in 2020 was to record and assess the experience of this societal upheaval across the EU Member States in all its detail, variety and modulation. Living and working in Europe 2020 provides a snapshot of how the COVID-19 confinement measures changed employment, work and quality of life in Europe, as gathered by Eurofound’s research activities in 2020.
Eurofound’s work on COVID-19 examines the far-reaching socioeconomic implications of the pandemic across Europe as they continue to impact living and working conditions. A key element of the research is the e-survey, launched in April 2020, with five rounds completed at different stages during 2020, 2021 and 2022. This is complemented by the inclusion of research into the ongoing effects of the pandemic in much of Eurofound’s other areas of work.
Eurofound's representativeness studies are designed to allow the European Commission to identify the ‘management and labour’ whom it must consult under article 154 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). This series consists of studies of the representativeness of employer and worker organisations in various sectors.
This series reports on developments in minimum wage rates across the EU, including how they are set and how they have developed over time in nominal and real terms. The series explores where there are statutory minimum wages or collectively agreed minimum wages in the Member States, as well as minimum wage coverage rates by gender.
The European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) launched in 1990 and is carried out every five years, with the latest edition in 2015. It provides an overview of trends in working conditions and quality of employment for the last 30 years. It covers issues such as employment status, working time duration and organisation, work organisation, learning and training, physical and psychosocial risk factors, health and safety, work–life balance, worker participation, earnings and financial security, work and health, and most recently also the future of work.
The European Restructuring Monitor has reported on the employment impact of large-scale business restructuring since 2002. This series includes its restructuring-related databases (events, support instruments and legislation) as well as case studies and publications.
Eurofound’s Flagship report series 'Challenges and prospects in the EU' comprise research reports that contain the key results of multiannual research activities and incorporate findings from different related research projects. Flagship reports are the major output of each of Eurofound’s strategic areas of intervention and have as their objective to contribute to current policy debates.
Eurofound’s European Company Survey (ECS) maps and analyses company policies and practices which can have an impact on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, as well as the development of social dialogue in companies. This series consists of outputs from the ECS 2019, the fourth edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 2004–2005 as the European Survey on Working Time and Work-Life Balance.
This series reports on and updates latest information on the involvement of national social partners in policymaking. The series analyses the involvement of national social partners in the implementation of policy reforms within the framework of social dialogue practices, including their involvement in elaborating the National Reform Programmes (NRPs).
This series reports on the new forms of employment emerging across Europe that are driven by societal, economic and technological developments and are different from traditional standard or non-standard employment in a number of ways. This series explores what characterises these new employment forms and what implications they have for working conditions and the labour market.
The European Company Survey (ECS) is carried out every four to five years since its inception in 2004–2005, with the latest edition in 2019. The survey is designed to provide information on workplace practices to develop and evaluate socioeconomic policy in the EU. It covers issues around work organisation, working time arrangements and work–life balance, flexibility, workplace innovation, employee involvement, human resource management, social dialogue, and most recently also skills use, skills strategies and digitalisation.
With the expansion of telework and different forms of hybrid work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for policymakers to consider both the opportunities and the negative consequences that may result. This report will explore potential scenarios for such work. In doing so, it will identify trends and drivers, and predict how they might interact to create particular outcomes and how they are likely to affect workers and businesses. Policy pointers will outline what could be done to facilitate desirable outcomes and to avoid undesirable ones.
The urban-rural divide in EU countries has grown in recent years, and the depopulation of certain rural areas in favour of cities is a challenge when it comes to promoting economic development and maintaining social cohesion and convergence. Using data from Eurofound and Eurostat, this report will investigate the trends and drivers of the urban-rural divide, in various dimensions: economic and employment opportunities, access to services, living conditions and quality of life.
Adequate, affordable housing has become a matter of great concern, with an alarming number of Europeans with low or lower household incomes unable to access any, especially in capital cities. Housing was a key factor in people’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic: its quality and level of safety significantly affected how lockdowns and social distancing measures were experienced, with those who had no access to quality housing at higher risk of deteriorating living conditions and well-being.
The use of artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and the Internet of Things technologies in the workplace can bring about fundamental changes in work organisation and working conditions. This report analyses the ethical and human implications of the use of these technologies at work by drawing on qualitative interviews with policy stakeholders, input from the Network of Eurofound Correspondents and Delphi expert surveys, and case studies.