America This Week: Gen Z Sticks Out At The Office, Immigration Catches Voters Eyes, The Office Power Vacuum and Healthcare’s Hit In Confidence 

The latest trends in society and culture from The Harris Poll

Can you feel the politics heating up? On the heels of the New Hampshire Primary, our America This Week poll, fielded from January 26th to 28th among 2,086 Americans, finds a jump in concern around political divisiveness (77%, +6%-pts from December). We have launched a Risk and Reputation Unit to advise communicators and marketers on managing toxicity. Here’s a deeper dive into the practice

This week, we have four new stories: In a new Harris Poll with Fortune, Gen Z needs to prepare to manage the nuances of a non-Zoom workplace. Next, our January Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll finds a new number-one concern among voters (hint: it involves the border). Also, with Fortune, we dive into which generation controls the dialogue of work expectations. Lastly, with ZS, there is a growing patient-provider disconnect in the experience that even AI will need help to solve.

Gen Z Lacks Office Etiquette: Fortune-Harris Poll

In our latest research exclusive to Fortune, Zoom college and internships instead of boots-on-the-ground training have Gen Z finding more challenges in the IRL workplace than their predecessors. These include developing soft skills, understanding politics, and adjusting to the in-office workplace norms.

  • Eight in ten (82%) corporate managers said their new Gen Z hires’ soft skills need more guidance, time, and training.
  • It’s a challenge even Gen Z employees acknowledge: (78%) of younger employees said that they feel some of the ambient, abstract workplace soft skills can’t be taught and can only be gained by watching more seasoned employees over time. But (59%) need to figure out who to turn to for help.
  • Their lack of soft skills could cost them a promotion: Over two-thirds of Gen Z employees agree that those who socially connect with senior coworkers are more likely to be promoted.
  • Yet, three-quarters of young hires revealed that they would only talk more to their senior coworkers if they made the first move.

Takeaway: Making small talk may seem like common knowledge, but it’s one of many “basic” soft skills that Gen Z missed out on while coming of age in isolation during the pandemic – and now, employers are being forced to make up for the lost time. Take the world’s Big Four consulting firms, for example. Deloitte, PwC, KPMG, and EY are now all offering extra training to young new hires who have “less confidence doing basic tasks” such as making presentations and speaking up in meetings.

Immigration is Now The Top Concern Of Voters: Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll

With inflation and recession worries waning, our January Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll, covered by The Hill, shows that immigration is now the number one issue among U.S. voters.

  • The survey found that (35%, +7 %-pts from last month) of U.S. voters listed immigration as their paramount concern among various issues, with inflation in a close second (32%).
  • Two-thirds (64%) said conditions at the border are getting worse, while (23%) said they’re staying the same (v. improving: 13%).
  • Additionally, (68%) said the administration should make it more challenging to get into the United States illegally, and (32%) think current border policies should remain.
  • Broad majorities of Republicans and independents – (85%) and (71%) respectively – want to see stricter border enforcement, but Democrats are split at 50-50 on whether they’d like to see that.

Takeaway: The pivot to immigration mirrors both a political environment tuning into border policy as a core issue and a reduction in inflation that’s somewhat deflated the political clout of that issue. Both issues are at the tip of the Republican spear in attacks against President Biden, who is facing a reelection run with dangerously low approval numbers. Republican’s first move is to impeach Alejandro Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, over his handling of the border. While it may clear the House, The Senate is unlikely to go along.

Who’s The Boss? Fortune-Harris Poll

According to a recent Harris Poll with Fortune, the current office landscape in many companies is in flux as changing generational values, hybrid working, and other new norms lead various generations of workers to believe “they are in charge.”

  • Most employees (86%) say that the workplace norms and expectations have shifted since the pandemic started, with a third reporting feeling things have changed significantly.
  • The bosses also need clarification: Most managers (62%) report struggling to define which employee behaviors are acceptable in the new world of work.
  • Every generation sees themselves atop the food chain in setting workplace norms and expectations: A whopping (81%) of Gen Xers think their group is in control, (70%) of Millennials think they are, and (54%) of Gen Zers think it’s them (v. Boomers: 46%).
  • However, it’s the rise of Gen Xers in power: The entire respondent pool collectively thought Gen X won. Forty-one percent said Gen X has the most power dictating the current office landscape.

Takeaway: “For boomers and Gen X, this is likely recognizing a more traditional concept of power dynamics, as they are typically the corporate decision-makers,” says Amy Mulvey, senior research manager at Harris Poll. “On the other hand, millennials and Gen Z may see themselves as the future of the workforce with power to influence decision-makers at their company as they seek to attract and retain talent.”

The Healthcare Holdups: ZS-Harris Poll

The annual global Future of Health Survey, which we conduct in partnership with ZS, finds that healthcare consumers need to get the patient experience they want and need.

  • Globally, around one in four respondents across six countries said they avoid care due to hassles, with younger individuals more likely to avoid care due to hassle or cost.
  • The patient-provider disconnect: Two-thirds (64%) of oncologists think their patients feel cared for after a visit, while just (46%) of cancer patients report this. In the U.S., only (1%) of U.S. cardiologists say their patients feel frustrated after an interaction, whereas (22%) reported feeling this way.
  • Government intervention is desired to shrink health disparities: At least (76%) of individuals in the U.S., U.K., Sweden, Germany, and Japan agree that their governments should shift funding toward preventing diseases to reduce health disparities (U.S.: 84%).
  • And what about AI’s role in the future of health? Both patients and providers need convincing. Just over half (58%) in the U.S. familiar with AI believe the technology can be effective in healthcare, but this drops to (18%) of those unfamiliar. While more than (50%) of PCPs in Sweden, Germany, Japan, and China think AI will improve healthcare, only (32%) of PCPs in the U.S. and the U.K. agree.

Takeaway: Other than in Sweden, the percentage of people in every country who said, “I feel like the healthcare system doesn’t care about people like me” increased between 2022 and 2023. This perception comes with a cost: Three-quarters of individuals in every country except Japan said they put off care because accessing it is so frustrating. Solving healthcare problems will take time and effort. According to our respondents, the industry’s thorniest issues, from healthcare access to health equity, will require collaboration from every healthcare stakeholder and government.

Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from January 26th to 28th, among a nationally representative sample of 2,086 U.S. adults.

John Gerzema headshot

John Gerzema


Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from January 26th to 28th, among a nationally representative sample of 2,086 U.S. adults.


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