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The worker-employer relationship disrupted

If we're not a family, what are we?

Authors: Erica Volini (US), Jeff Schwartz(US), Kraig Eaton (US), David Mallon (US)

The pandemic strained and tested the worker-employer relationship beyond anyone’s anticipation. Going forward, thriving in an uncertain future depends on having a compelling vision for where that relationship should go.

Deloitte Insights


“Shopify, like any other for-profit company, is not a family. The very idea is preposterous. You are born into a family. You never choose it, and they can’t un-family you. The dangers of ‘family thinking’ are that it becomes incredibly hard to let poor performers go. Shopify is a team, not a family.” -- Tobias Lütke, CEO, Shopify

Shopify reminded workers that they’re a business, not a family.1 Basecamp banned societal and political discussions at work.2 Fujitsu took the first steps to end “solo work” practices.3 Goldman Sachs came under fire for workers’ 100 hour weeks.4 And Danone set its sights on becoming the world’s largest B-Corp. Whatever you thought the worker-employer relationship was before, there’s no doubt that it is under stress and evolving now.

What’s less clear is what form it will take moving forward. How will the worker-employer relationship shift as employers and workers push and pull each other in the pursuit of their various needs? Will organizations continue to embrace their role as social enterprises? Will workers’ trust in business remain steadfast, or will they look for leadership outside of organizational walls?

This special report explores one set of possible answers to the central question: How might the worker-employer relationship evolve to meet the opportunities and challenges of the post–COVID-19 world?

>> Read more on Deloitte Insights

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