Firm News

Employers Regard “Future of Work” with Mix of Optimism and Ambivalence, According to Seyfarth Shaw Survey


Survey is part of firm’s Future Employer initiative, which helps employers navigate exponential change in the nature of work and business 
February 13, 2017 – According to survey findings released today by Seyfarth Shaw, the majority of employers are “hopeful” about changes related to the workplace, in the areas of technology, innovation and shifting workforce expectations.  
The results of the Future of Work Outlook Survey, fielded between the election and the inauguration of President Donald Trump, show the issues that are top of mind among business leaders and in-house counsel at some of the largest employers across the country.
When given an opportunity to expand on their feelings about the future of work, many in-house business leaders and lawyers expressed ambivalence about the road ahead for business, acknowledging the unique challenge of running a business while navigating issues without precedent, the need to cultivate new sources of talent, the growing complexity of the U.S. regulatory landscape, and an ever increasing global workforce. 
“Our survey provides a window into employer hopes and fears regarding the future of the workplace,” said Laura Maechtlen, vice-chair of Seyfarth’s Labor & Employment department. “Technology is just one small piece of the puzzle. Business leaders, including corporate legal departments, are navigating a shifting landscape with a new presidential administration, evolving skill sets, talent management, and the ways in which their own roles will change in the next five years.”
From 700-plus respondents, key findings of the Future of Work Outlook Survey include:
A New Hope: 70% of respondents are hopeful about future changes to the workplace.
On the Cusp of Trending: Majority of respondents (55%) do not expect demand for independent contractors to grow.
Leader of the Pack: The Department of Labor (35%) leads the group of U.S. agencies as the most aggressive employer “watchdog” for the next five years.
Out on a Limb: Most respondents (48%) believe that the Executive Branch will have the greatest impact on the workplace in the future.
Rise in Employment-based Cases: 68% of respondents believe there will be an increase in employment cases that reach the Supreme Court.
See full survey results and verbatims at
The survey is part of the firm’s new Future Employer initiative, which brings together in-house legal and business leaders to navigate the revolutionary changes facing employers, from technology advancements, to generational shifts and evolving workforce expectations. 
“We developed Future Employer as a resource to help employers define trends and new opportunities for legal and business solutions,” said Lisa Damon, chair of Seyfarth’s Labor & Employment department. “As a firm known for our forward-thinking approach to both legal issues and the business of law, we feel a responsibility to partner with clients to forge a path forward in the new economy.”
For its Future of Work Outlook Survey, Seyfarth Shaw surveyed in-house legal and business leaders via online survey for a one-month period between December 2016 and January 2017. A total of 717 respondents completed the survey. Respondents included General Counsel, Directors of HR, Associate General Counsel, HR Managers, Presidents, Senior Counsel, VP, HR and a number of other titles from industries including consumer discretionary, consumer staples, energy, financials, health care, industrials, information technology, materials, real estate, telecommunication services, and utilities. 
About Future Employer 
Future Employer by Seyfarth Shaw is the forward-thinking employer’s guide to the “Future of Work.” We are a community of legal and industry leaders who are leading the way in the transformation of the workplace. Future Employer connects subject matter experts and our clients—in person and through our online platform—to shape, guide and operationalize new approaches to legal and business solutions. 
About Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Seyfarth Shaw has more than 900 attorneys in 14 offices providing a broad range of legal services in the areas of labor and employment, employee benefits, litigation, corporate and real estate. Seyfarth’s clients include over 300 of the Fortune 500 companies and reflect virtually every industry and segment of the economy. A recognized leader in delivering value and innovation for legal services, Seyfarth’s acclaimed SeyfarthLean® client service model has earned numerous accolades from a variety of highly respected industry associations, consulting firms and media.