America This Week: The New Politics (and Career Limitations) of Remote Work, More American Couples Go Childless, and What’s Keeping HR Up at Night.

The latest trends in society and culture from The Harris Poll

Super Tuesday is now behind us; with it, one-third of the delegates needed for each party’s presidential nomination. Now that a Biden v. Trump rematch looks all but certain, there’s an atypical national campaign issue. Immigration is now the number one issue among American voters in our Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll. Typically, elections are won and lost on the economy. But with confidence rising in The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index, will voters care more about the border than their pocketbooks come November? In our America This Week poll fielded March 1st to 3rd, among 2,085 Americans, more than two-thirds (69%) believe the worst of inflation is still ahead of us.

This week, we have four new stories: In our ongoing investigation of the American workplace with Bloomberg, return-to-office policies are suddenly tinged with political toxicity. Our second survey reveals growing concern among remote and hybrid workers that they could be overlooked for career advancement or laid off. Then, remember that 80’s acronym DINKs (double-income, no-kids)? Well, they’re back as couples weigh the growing costs of childcare. Lastly, a new Harris study of corporate HR professionals finds them bracing for increased turnover this year, even as economic conditions improve.

Return-to-Work Policies Become a Toxic Cultural Flashpoint: Bloomberg-Harris Poll

A simple question has transformed into a lightning rod: Where do you work from? In our latest workplace research with Bloomberg, the fight over working remotely or showing up in person has become a cultural flashpoint. 

  • Democrats say remote work helps equalize office inequities and think it’s unfair when companies require in-person work for jobs that can be done remotely by a 15%-pt and 14%-pt margin, respectively. But, Republicans say remote work limits career advancement by 10%-pts.

  • While two-thirds (67%) of employed Americans think remote work has become unnecessarily politicized, three in four (74%) say employees need to stop complaining about returning to the office.
  • Yet, over half (57%) agree that companies are out of touch for focusing so heavily on “back-to-office” protocols – with more Democrats agreeing (64% v. GOP: 51%).

Takeaway: The findings come as large companies have been targeting remote workers for layoffs and the white-collar job market sputters. Remote work has long pitted workers versus management, white versus blue collar, left versus right. Corporations under attack for DEI and ESG must now realize that remote/hybrid work could be another social issue that turbocharges polarization.

Remote Work Is New Threat To Advancement, Say American Workers: Bloomberg-Harris Poll

Also, in this same Bloomberg-Harris Poll, layoffs and job advancement concerns push many workers back to the office.

  • More than half (53%) of Americans said remote work is detrimental to career advancement – something even remote and hybrid workers agree on (50% and 57%).
  • And (52%) of hybrid workers said they returned to the office because of concerns about either layoffs or career advancement.
  • And among remote staff, more than half (53%) said they worried that not being in the office makes them vulnerable to job cuts and hurts their promotion chances (52%).
  • Despite these concerns (70%) of American workers say that as long as workers get their work done, it’s ok to do personal tasks during the workday.

Takeaway: “Our Peter Pan relationship with remote working is coming to an end,” said John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Poll. He noted that while Americans expressed confidence in their ability to work remotely, polling indicated a strong awareness of its “hidden penalties.”

Kids, In This Economy? NerdWallet-Harris Poll

The term DINK (double-income, no-kids) is back like espadrilles from the eighties. Whether by individual choice or economic constraints, our poll with NerdWallet in Business Insider exposes a growing social problem of the lack of support and infrastructure for working families today.

  • Over half (56%) of non-parents under 60 say they don’t plan on having kids.
  • Three in five (44%) say they don’t want children, while (31%) say that the cost of raising a kid today is too high, as is the price of child care (23%).
  • Costs are even shrinking families: Around one in five parents of minors who don’t plan to have more kids say it’s because the overall cost of raising another child is too high (22%), increasing to (30%) of Millennial parents.
  • The lack of work support exacerbates the problem: According to Express Employment Professionals-Harris Poll data, about one-third (34%) of employed Americans have put starting a family on hold due to a lack of work-life balance.
  • In our research with KinderCare, nearly half (48%) of working parents say, “Finding childcare feels impossible right now.”
  • One radical solution: Grannies. In 2023 with Fortune, we found they were the hidden force in our economic recovery as (67%) of working parents who rely on grandmas for childcare said there were times they would have lost their job without the help of their child’s grandma.

Takeaway: Childless couples in our study said their net worth outpaced that of other family structures. Yet, pushing society to adopt more double-income, no-kids lifestyles doesn’t negate the childcare cost crisis squeezing American families. And it surely won’t help stem America’s long-term decline in fertility.

2024 Is The Year Of The Turnovers: Express Employment Professionals-Harris Poll

The downside of an improving economy is employee mobility. Employee retention has become a top priority for both operations and HR in new Harris research with Express Employment Professionals in HR Dive:

  • A third (33%) of U.S. hiring managers anticipate employee turnover at their company to increase in the next year, costing an average of $36,295 (e.g., cost to rehire, lost productivity) annually. A fifth (20%) say that number climbs to $100,000 or higher.
  • For those who anticipate increased turnover this year, many point to better pay/benefits offered elsewhere (38%), increased workplace demands (35%), employees resigning (33%), employee feelings of being overworked (31%), and the competitive job market (26%) as the cause.
  • Turnover affects the company and the remaining employees: Nearly three-quarters (73%) of hiring managers say employee turnover places a heavy burden on existing employees.
  • To counteract turnover and potentially give reprieve to employees, (88%) of hiring managers said they were planning to hire in 2024.

Takeaway: “High turnover in the booming jobs market of the past few years has led to a strained workforce that is stressed and burned out,” Bill Stoller, CEO of Express Employment International, said in a statement. “With data showing more employees are remaining in place, now is the perfect time to create retention tactics to stabilize headcount with top talent.”

Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from March 1st to 3rd, among a nationally representative sample of 2,085 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 March 1st to 3rd, among a nationally representative sample of 2,085 U.S. adults.


Related Content